Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


Brenat College, like most institution of higher education today, has faced accreditation association mandates to demonstrate institutional effectiveness particularly in its educational programs. The development of meaningful measures of student outcomes had become critically important both for major programs and the overall core curriculum. Since the core did not have any single departmental identity, it was especially important that an institutional plan for core outcomes and program assessment be developed. The development of such a plan was the purpose of this MARP. The two primary research questions were: What is the best structure and content for a core curricular assessment plan at Brenau Women's College? What is a reasonable plan for evaluation of the core curricular assessment pian once it is implemented? An extensive body of literature on outcomes assessment had developed over the previous five to ten years and served as a primary source of guidance for the development of Brenau's plan. The evolution of the outcomes assessment movement was investigated; prevailing definitions of the terms assessment, accountability, outcomes and institutional effectiveness were researched, particularly with respect to core curricula; literature on the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' institutional effectiveness criteria were studied and SACS personnel interviewed; and current practice among other institutions was explored and analyzed for applicability to Brenau. In addition, five institutions were directly investigated by telephone interview to obtain insight into their current efforts in core curriculum assessment. Subsequently, Brenau records were reviewed and administrators interviewed to determine Brenau’s a current status and direction vis a vis core curriculum assessment. And finally, literature on program assessment was researched to assist in development of a plan to evaluate the plan itself. Based on the results of the aforementioned inquiries, a plan was developed to assess student outcomes in the various components of the Brenau core curriculum, as well as to assess the core program in its entirety. Following reviews and revision in the faculty Assessment Committee, the final plan contained the following elements: a statement of goal, nine assumptions, eight assessment elements with subcategories, and a plan for evaluation of the plan once implemented. The plan tor evaluation called for annual formative reviews by department chairs and the Dean, annual core portfolio review interview by the Assessment Committee faculty, and annual reviews of the results of the projected core questionnaire, with results of all the aforementioned reported to the Dean and ultimately the faculty at each fall faculty retreat. Projected summative evaluation of the Core Curricular Assessment Plan called for core assessment plan review as part of each five year disciplinary analysis process as well as part of each ten year reaccreditation review. The Brenau Core Curriculum Assessment Plan underwent its first formative evaluation immediately following development via the faculty Assessment Committee, as well as by a visiting SACS reaccreditation committee. Six conclusions resulted from the study. Assessment was perceived to have a dual focus of external accountability and internal improvement. Core curricular assessment was viewed as having no single correct approach. Predictable pitfalls required attention in any core assessment pian. Standardized testing and portfolio assessment both had advantages and disadvantages. Portfolio appeared to address the disadvantages of standardized tests. Finally. Brenau's plan appeared to respond to the College's mission, to address key assessment issues, utilized a variety of measurements, responded to SACS criteria, and provided flexibility for adaptation over time as results of assessment and changing needs of the institution were periodically evaluated. Eight recommendations evolved from the study. They were that the Brenau administration formally adopt the plan as developed; that the plan be disseminated to all Brenau faculty and that review meetings be scheduled; that on Institutional Effectiveness Overview Committee be formed; that the Benau assessment and institutional research efforts be better coordinated particularly with respect to database management; that various faculty development opportunities be offered to support assessment plans and goals; that Brenau consider a reorganization of its core curricular outcomes into a more succinct and manageable format; that this study and its findings be shared with SACS; and that the study and its findings be shared further via topical papers submitted to regional end national forums on assessment and institutional research.

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