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Academic Affairs Office

Assessment of Student Learning

Introduction

Assessment of student learning is critical to New Mexico Tech for a variety of reasons. Fundamentally, the purpose of assessment is to ensure that students gain the knowledge and skills necessary for them to function as professionals and members of the broader society. For background information on the basics of how assessment is conducted, please see our assessment primer. If you have any questions about assessment of student learning, or New Mexico Tech's internal processes for such assessment, please contact Peter Mozley (Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs).

Organization of Campus-Wide Assessment Activities

At New Mexico Tech, we perform a variety of assessment types including: course assessment, program assessment, co-curricular assessment, general education assessment, and Institute-wide assessment. The New Mexico Tech Assessment Task Force is made up of faculty, staff, and administrators (see below) and is responsible for coordinating campus-wide assessment activities, conducting annual assessment reviews, and producing assessment reports. The current workflow for New Mexico Tech's assessment activities, including the central role of the Task Force, is summarized below.

Assessment Flowchart

The schedule for assessment reporting and review is as follows:

Membership of New Mexico Tech's Assessment Task Force

Name Title Role
Dr. Peter Mozley Assoc. VP Academic Affairs Co-Chair
Dr. Aly El Osery Chair Electrical Engineering Co-Chair
Dr. Lynda Ballou Professor in Mathematics  Member
Dr. Daniel Cadol Associate Professor in Hydrology Member 
Dr. Jamie Kimberley Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering Member 
Dr. Lorie Liebrock Dean of Graduate Studies Member 
Ms. Lisa Majkowski Associate Director of Advancement and Alumni Relations Member 
Dr. Jesse Priest Assistant Professor in CLASS Member 
Dr. Donghyeon Ryu Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering Member 
Dr. Steve Simpson CLASS Department Chair Member 
Mr. Mitchell Tappen Residential Life Director Member 
Dr. Lindsay Waldrop Assistant Professor in Biology Member 
Dr. Kevin Wedeward Dean of Engineering Member
Dr. David Westpfahl Professor in Physics Member

The review process is as follows: 

  1. Reports are initially reviewed by the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs (AVPAA) and one or more additional reviewers using a Google Forms rubric.  Results are compiled in an associated spreadsheet.
  2. The Task Force meets and conducts a “panel discussion” in which reviewers detail the strengths and weaknesses of the reports and appropriate feedback. 
  3. The AVPAA drafts summary comments and scores.
  4. Summary comments and scores are reviewed by the Task Force.

Classroom Assessment

All courses are required to have course learning outcomes explicitly detailed in the course syllabus, as well as a listing of the learning outcomes of the host department or program. The course learning outcomes are in some cases focused on skills or knowledge specific to the course, though broad outcomes are also often included.  This activity is left up to individual instructors. Some of the data are reported to the department assessment coordinator for use in department/program assessment.

General Education Assessment

Courses required for the general education core curriculum are assessed separately by the departments.  This information is formally reported to the Office of Academic Affairs and evaluated by the Assessment Task Force. A statewide steering committee recently overhauled general education requirements for all public universities in New Mexico (see https://provost.nmsu.edu/state-wide-gen-ed/).  This included developing common learning outcomes for general education courses. Once this overhaul is completed, and the process for assessment finalized, New Mexico Tech will adopt the new learning outcomes and any associated general education assessment practices.

Department/Program Assessment 

Department assessment has traditionally been the main focus of assessment activities at New Mexico Tech.  Assessment at this level is done separately for the undergraduate and graduate programs. This effort is summarized in department assessment reports, which are produced on an annual basis (by academic year).  Most have a common format, following a template provided by the Office of Academic Affairs. However, use of this template is not mandatory and the learning outcomes and performance indicators used by departments vary.  There are fundamental differences between the assessment of our engineering programs and the arts and sciences programs, because the engineering programs are required to assess performance on learning outcomes prescribed by ABET.  The engineering departments are, of course, allowed to assess additional outcomes if they wish, and in some cases do.

Co-Curricular Assessment

The principal co-curricular assessment that Tech in performed prior to 2014-2015 focused on assessing student learning associated with the Student Research Symposium (SRS).  The NMT Student Research Symposium (SRS) is annual, co-curricular event where NMT students present their research to their peers, professors, the NMT community, and the public. This program began as the university’s accreditation Quality Initiative; assessment is a key component of the program. The SRS continues to assess the student participants’ professional oral and poster presentation skills, and their ability to communicate research to a general, educated, multi-disciplinary audience.

Starting in the 2014-2015 performance period a number of non-academic offices on campus began to assess various aspects of student learning.  This includes the Office of Student Learning (OSL), the Office of Student Affairs, and the Office of Residential Life.

Institute-Wide Assessment

The Institute also has a set of Institute-wide learning outcomes, which overlap with most department level outcomes.  The Institute learning outcomes are that NMT students will:

The principal mechanism for institutional assessment at Tech has been by examination of assessment reports from the various departments and by student and alumni surveys.