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Assessment of the Academic Program

Matters pertaining to assessment of the academic program at Whitman College fall under the responsibilities of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Helen Kim (kimh2@whitman.edu).

The college's Assessment Committee, chaired by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, consists of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty (Alzada Tipton), the elected faculty chairs of the three academic divisions, as well as the director of Institutional Research (Neal Christopherson), the director of Enterprise Technology (Mike Osterman), and the Senior Associate Dean of Students (Juli Dunn). At Whitman College, student learning is one key indicator of overall student success and a critical component of mission fulfillment. To ensure the high quality and continuous improvement of the academic program, Whitman has implemented a system of regular assessment and evaluation of student learning and the offices that support it. Specifically:

  • Instructors assess student learning and the achievement of distribution area-specific student learning outcomes in all courses that fulfill distribution requirements.
  • Instructors in the First Year Seminars participate in the assessment of First Year Seminars-specific student learning outcomes.
  • All academic departments and programs assess achievement of student learning outcomes established for the major courses of study.
  • All incoming first-year students are assessed for writing proficiency. Students for whom additional instruction would be useful are enrolled in Rhetoric, Writing and Public Discourse 170 and are reassessed upon completion of that course.
  • All academic departments and programs are periodically reviewed by a panel of peers from respected institutions of higher learning. These external reviews consist of in-depth self-studies, alumni surveys, and other materials.  The overall goals of the reviews are to facilitate objective assessment of the quality of Whitman's educational programs, to seek best practices in curricular matters, and to strive for continuous improvement of the student academic experience.
  • Campuswide academic programs (e.g. First Year Seminars, Global Studies) are periodically reviewed by a panel of peers from respected post-secondary institutions. Similar to those for academic departments, these reviews entail detailed self-studies, alumni surveys, and other materials in order to facilitate objective assessment, to seek best practices, and to strive for continuous improvement.
  • Offices that support the academic program (e.g. Off-Campus Studies, Penrose Library, Registrar's Office, etc.) are periodically reviewed by a panel of peers from respected institutions of higher education, in order to ensure the highest level of support for student learning.
  • The Office of Institutional Research, which reports to the Provost and Dean of the Faculty, facilitates data collection, analysis, and reporting for the purposes of planning and decision-making for the academic program.
  • The office of Provost and Dean of the Faculty works closely with other campus offices to find ways that assessment of student experiences (for example, co-curricular experiences, off-campus study, community engagement, residence life, and advising) may enhance student learning, broadly speaking, and thus contribute to the fulfillment of the college's academic mission.  

The college documents direct and indirect measures of student learning and related experiences. Student participation in assessment at the college is important as well, including surveys that ask students to reflect on their overall collegiate learning experiences (e.g., the National Survey of Student Engagement, the HEDS Senior Survey, the CIRP College Senior Survey, and the Research Practices Survey). Information about student surveys, as well as the college's Factbook, can be found on the Office of Institutional Research website.

Faculty and staff members who need assistance with survey construction or other assessment materials may contact the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Helen Kim (kimh2@whitman.edu) or the Director of Institutional Research Neal Christopherson (christnj@whitman.edu) for consultation.  


Provost and Dean of the Faculty
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