Overview of Research for Project 5.2

The National Center for Postsecondary Improvement (NCPI) Research Project 5.2 on žInstitutional Support For Enhancing Student Assessment And Performance"is part of a national center funded by a five-year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of EducationŪs Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI).  Project 5.2 is currently in the midst of a three phase research project that seeks to understand how institutions promote and support their student assessment efforts by examining how they:

  • respond to external pressures for student assessment;
  • adopt assessment approaches;
  • design organizational and administrative support for student assessment;
  • develop assessment management policies and practices, and;
  • use student assessment data that impact and improve student learning and institutional performance.
  • The project's ultimate aim is to enhance institutional academic performance by developing a set of organizational and administrative support strategies and an inventory of exemplary institutional policies and practices for use by policymakers and institutions. The study is guided by the research questions presented below.

    Phase One consisted of an extensive review & synthesis of the literature on the organizational and administrative context and support for student assessment in postsecondary institutions.  This literature review culminated in the publication of a comprehensive literature review and the development of a conceptual framework of institutional support for student assessment.  The conceptual framework provided the structure for designing the survey instrument on institutional assessment patterns used in Phase Two.

    Phase Two of the project involved the administration and analysis of a national survey of postsecondary institutions' organizational and administrative patterns of assessment. The instrument, entitled "Institutional Support for Student AssessmentÓ(ISSA), is a comprehensive inventory of external influences on student assessment, institutional approaches to student assessment, patterns of organizational and administrative support for student assessment, assessment management policies and practices, and the uses and impacts of assessment information.  The findings from this survey are summarized in a series of published reports.

    Phase Three is a collaborative effort with Projects 5.1 (State Policies & Regional Accreditation Practices of Assessment) and 5.3 (Student & Faculty Issues that Impact Teaching, Learning, & Assessment) to conduct case studies of institutions identified in Phase Two as having comprehensive student assessment efforts in place.  Project 5.2 has two primary research purposes in these case studies: to examine these institutions' strategies for promoting and supporting student assessment and their culture and climate for student assessment.  For this latter purpose, a survey instrument for faculty and administrators at the selected institutions entitled "Institutional Climate for Student Assessment" (ICSA) has been developed.

    Research Questions
     This research has been guided by the following specific questions:

    1. What types of measures and approaches to student assessment have institutions adopted?

    2. What is the nature of external influences for student assessment on postsecondary institutions?

    3. What institution-wide support patterns for student assessment have institutions developed?

    4. What assessment management practies and policies that promote student assessment have institutions implemented?

    5. How have institutions used student assessment information and what impacts has it had?

    6. How do patterns of external influences, student assessment approachs, institutional support patterns, assessment management practices and policies, and uses and impacts of student assessment data vary by institutional type and control?

    7. How are external influences and institutional variables related to institutional adoption of various approaches to student assessment?

    8. What is the relative influence of external factors, institutional approaches to student assessment, institutional support patterns,.and assessment management practies and policies on institutional use and impacts of student assessment information?  How does this influence vary by institutional type?


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