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Assessment Overview

Continuous quality assessments are the primary means by which Olivet College improves its programs and services. This is essential to the college’s Vision and Strategic Priorities and is best promoted by an environment encouraging intentional reflection that is based on objective evidence.

All areas of Olivet College are committed to helping students learn and to promoting their scholarly excellence. As such, assessment helps identify that which produces the skills, orientations, and ethics that we believe characterize graduates who can contribute to the common good.

Academics is especially important because it provides many of the indicators of student success and learning. Key indicators stem from the all-college outcomes and the outcomes for each major.

We believe that success is reinforced by experiences in the community-at-large. At Olivet College, these include success in daily living, residences, playing fields, clubs and organizations, and other activities .

Ultimately, all assessments speak to the college’s mission of providing an Education for Individual and Social Responsibility.   

Assessment Process
Olivet College assessments are planned, resulting in valid interpretations in the yearly assessment report. The assessment reports are used, in part, to create strategic plans that are aligned with the college’s mission in each area.

Assessment plans are reviewed in October and end-of-year reports prepared in May. The President and the Administrative Responsibility Team provide oversight of all activities. Assessment in the academic area is aided by an assessment committee composed of department chairs.

Those using this site are subject to the understandings of responsible use described under the institutional research link.

Assessment Definitions

Descriptions of common assessment processes and terms

Learning Outcomes

All-college and departmental learning outcomes

Assessment Plan

Assessment forms, measures, and targets/benchmarks for each

Annual Assessment Report Annual assessments for each area and department

Strategic Plans

Long-term activities based on assignments

Institutional Plan Assessment activities for the entire college
Timeline Important deadlines this year and over the next decade
Sharing Our Learning Data and reports for college professionals. This includes the Focus on… assessment series.
Institutional Effectiveness Other assessments and measures of the College’s efficacy
Institutional Research Goals of institutional research, assessment resources, and other data
Public Information A compendium of Right-to-Know College for the year

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Student Learning Outcomes

Responsibility Matrix
Olivet College believes that our future lies with those who accept responsibility for themselves and others in an increasingly diverse world. The Olivet College Compact articulates this idea of individual and social responsibility and is the foundation of the second strategic priority, fostering a culture of responsibility. The college’s assessments provide evidence for this from academics, community life, and direct measures on students. These measures are best conceptualized in the framework of the Olivet College Compact in the Matrix shown below.

Compact Statement Evaluation of Studies, Classes
and Assignments
Evidence from Participation
Beyond the Classroom
Inventories of Beliefs and Values (surveys)

I am responsible for my own learning and personal development

Class attendance, use of learning resources, president’s and dean’s list, personal growth, course assignments and homework, graduate study

Conferences, course field trips, study abroad, honors program participation, special awards, professional organization participation

Learning styles
Achievement motives
Personal growth

I am responsible for contributing to the learning of others

Tutoring, teaching and lab assistance, group projects, class presentations

Conference presentation,
leadership on campus

Goals and attitudes
I am responsible for service to Olivet College and the larger community

Service Learning, community service, practicum and field experiences, co-ops and internships


Volunteering, Service Days,
clubs, organizations, athletic team participation, alternative spring break, work-study

Personal civic responsibility
I am responsible for the quality of the physical environment Environmental studies courses

Recycling, Service Day,
Earth Day on campus

Attitudes, respect for facilities

I am responsible for treating all people with respect

Coursework in race, gender, culture, understanding conflict

Community sanctions,
campus crime statistics,
pledging incidents

Academic-friendly values,
valuing others

I am responsible for behaving and communicating with honesty and integrity General and professional ethics courses Academic Integrity incidents
I am responsible for the development and growth of Olivet College

Student recruiting, participation in on and off campus college events,
alumni giving

Reputation of College

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Faculty Assessment of Learning

In addition to evaluation in courses, Olivet College faculty assess all students on six outcomes: critical thinking, individual responsibility, social responsibility, writing, public presentation, and group work. These assessments are guided by clearly articulated standards in rubrics which they developed. Current versions are available here.

In addition, every academic department has identified measurable outcomes that are especially important to graduates in their disciplines (See Department Outcomes ). Every course syllabus identifies which all-college and departmental outcomes are addressed and assessed.

Data for the most recent faculty assessments of learning are found under Sharing Our Learning.

Strategic Plan

The Strategic Plan forecasts the direction of each department. Each plan identifies short- and long-term goals and activities that are aligned with the college’s mission and strategic priorities. These are informed by the assessment plans and yearly reports and the future needs of students and the college. These are essential to Olivet College’s financial planning and continuous improvement.

The most recent strategic plans are available for the academic area and for Community Life

Assessment Plan

A special emphasis is placed on teaching and learning at Olivet College.  That is why Olivet College faculty are committed to understanding best practices and good assessment.  We are learning how good assessment can inform instruction as we take a more intense look at the work our students are producing for their required portfolio exhibits.  We are focusing on each of our all-college outcomes as well as outcomes for each academic major/department.  Olivet College is dedicated to making sure that each student receives the best education we can provide and that we are able to document that success.
This process includes:

  • Identifying the discipline or industry’s expectations (departmental advisory councils)
  • Assessing students
  • Specifying outcomes based on assessment
  • Designing instruction to meet student needs in concert with outside expectations and stated outcomes
  • Providing quality instruction including appropriate guided and independent practice with purposeful feedback
  • Assessing students knowledge, performance, and attributes through both direct and indirect measures
  • Evaluating instructional effectiveness
  • Incorporating that learning into action plans

The Offices of Academic Affairs and Institutional Research are dedicated to helping faculty accomplish these goals through data collections, professional development activities, and opportunities for dialogue. Other resources and activities are described under the institutional research section of this site, below.

Olivet College is committed to a positive culture outside of the classroom that supports each and every student’s education for individual and social responsibility. Towards this, the Office of Student Life offers programs and resources that assist students in their own and others’ learning; personal growth as individuals’ participation, leadership, and service to the college and community; and maintaining personal and social ethics for an increasingly diverse society. Each service is assessed annually in their ability to promote these outcomes, including residence and Greek life, Student educational and recreational activities, multicultural activities, and academic and nonacademic clubs and organizations.

Goal 1: All majors as well as our Liberal Arts Core Program will meet HLC standard expectations for outcomes and assessment by Dec. 2009.

  • All majors will have clear, measurable outcomes identified by Dec. 2008.
  • All programs will have appropriate assessment methods for their first outcome by Dec. 2009, with additional outcomes added each year.
  • All programs will have identified criteria for success for each assessment by December.

Goal 2: All academic departments will effectively use assessment data for one all-college outcome and one outcome in the major to enhance student learning during the 2009 – 10 academic year

  • All academic departments will submit an annual assessment report in May of each year.
  • All academic departments will identify planned actions for the subsequent academic year that reflect findings articulated in the annual assessment report.
  • Annual Strategic Plans will reflect planned actions designed to improve instruction.
  • Annual Assessment Plans will identify new outcomes to assess during the current academic year as well as assessment measures and criteria for success for each assessment.

Goal 3: All faculty will be engaged in active assessment at the course level to improve student learning.

  • All faculty will include clear, measurable outcomes in their course syllabi for Spring 2010 Semester.
  • All faculty will include both direct and indirect measures in their course assessments.
  • All faculty will indicate how they use assessment to improve instruction in their individual courses.

Goal 4: Professional development opportunities will be available to help engage faculty in effective assessment practices.

  • A minimum of $10,000 will be allocated each academic year for faculty to use for professional development in the area of assessment.
  • Olivet College will apply to become members of the HLC Academy for Assessment of student learning in 2009-10.

Goal 5: Assessment will be an important part of the campus culture

  • Focus On, a newsletter published by Academic Affairs and the Office of Institutional Research, will be distributed monthly starting in Sept. 2008.
  • All programs within the Student Resource Center will include an assessment component in their annual strategic plan. 
  • Student Life will include an assessment component in their annual strategic plan. 

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Overview and Timeline of Institutional Assessment Activities

Action Timeline Plan For Information Generated

Implemented alumni survey, administered during the summer of 2004, and summarized in Aug. 2005.  Survey generated responses regarding postgraduate employment and education, satisfaction and importance of the Olivet Plan, and reputation of the college using NSSE (National Survey of Student Engagement) norms.


Survey completed

Summary shared with Liberal Arts Core faculty committee and directors of elements of the Olivet Plan in two sessions.  Goals for sharing included: develop an understanding of the report and be able to explain it to others; identify strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum as perceived by graduates; and, examine the relationship between our courses and what graduates are saying about them.  A shortened version was shared with the whole faculty at a faculty meeting.  Changes were made to SL, SE, and DW designated courses.  Requirements for courses being designated SL, SE, or DW were revised.

Recent graduates survey administered to graduates 1 year later in late spring/summer of 2006, 2007, 2008. Collection is by mail, telephone, and personal contacts.

Yearly, ongoing

Results used in primary outcomes report for President and Administrative Responsibility Team, with findings shared appropriately, including President’s retention committee.

Implemented  the senior survey, administered in May of 2005, 2006, and 2007.  Parts of the initial summary were combined with recent graduate survey results for report prepared  in Aug. 2005.

Yearly, ongoing

This survey has been partially mined, with changes reflecting a set of most important questions. 


Results normed nationally for direct measures of teaching reputation, academic engagement, adaptive functioning, exiting values and beliefs, residence life services, personnel, and facilities.

Yearly, ongoing

Data have contributed to: 1) student engagement, including new class attendance reporting policy; 2) Primary outcomes report for President and Administrative Responsibility Team; 3) Retention Committee initiatives; 4)Student Life actions in services, personnel, and  facilities; 5) understanding of upper-division re-enrollment decisions.


6 year graduation rate report on graduation and retention
report has been normed as far back as 2001. Norms for 4 and 2-year colleges established in 2008


Report issued Nov. 2005, norms a part of ongoing collection

Norms are used in primary outcomes report for President and Administrative Responsibility Team; Retention Committee;

Retention Report (data mine) of 2004 cohort with analysis of retention with involvement in athletics, residential life, values, progress in the first year, and academic motivation variables.
Report has been normed as far back as we have data.  Portions appear in the senior survey too.

Main report issued June 2006
Ongoing and yearly retention analysis
Spring 2009

Norms are used in primary outcomes report of President and Administrative Responsibility Team; Retention Committee; studies of academic motivation, shared in Focus on in 2008-09

Results used to establish retention and graduation rate data for academic departments; indicator process shared with MI/AIR, on request

Implemented new student survey at start of 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 academic years.
After modification, administered all years although the 2006-07 was a bad collection year. (We lost our common class, IDS 151 to administer the survey). Increased thoroughness in 2009 by using new student orientation.

Main reports issued July 2005
and Jan. 2006
Yearly and ongoing

Established entry year indexes for:
 longitudinal studies of student outcomes, esp. for IR/SOR; 2) retention and graduation;
academic achievement and engagement;
4) new student recruitment decisions.
Major indicators validated for motivations, personal civic responsibility,


Report on academic engagement produced that included data mines of engagement and student well being; race and gender issues; engagement and the college’s reputation

March 2006

Results used by Retention Committee; studies of academic motivation, shared in Focus on in 2008-09

Charge drafted and formation of assessment task force – Charge to establish a formal process for assessment at Olivet College

May 2007 Discussion and reading of Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education by Mary J. Allen and Prioritizing Academic Programs and Services by Robert Dickeson

Re-write of Writing and EISR portfolio exhibit analysis

Summer 2007 Results shared with assessment task force
Oct. 2007

Rubric development, validation studies, and assessment of graduate’s Academic Writing. Review of recent graduates’ portfolio academic writing exhibits was completed by institutional research. Writing and Rhetoric Adjunct conducted the actual review. Initial benchmarks established for college.

Spring 2004

Report issued Jan. 2005

Results shared with key writing faculty.

Student satisfaction and importance was high as evidenced in the senior/alumni survey.

WAC and WIC groups established.  Writing director appointed.  Standard for writing revised and endorsed by faculty.

Development, validation studies of, and assessment using rubrics of student’s Individual Responsibility and of Social Responsibility institutional research.
Review and analysis of recent graduates’ portfolio exhibits used for initial benchmarks of college.

Report issued Jan. 2006

Report shared with department chairs.

Institutional picture of primary outcomes information is ready for sharing.  We will start with the VP group. 

Rubric development , validation studies on, and use of reasoning and critical thinking was completed by Institutional Research. Three full-time faculty reviewed the exhibits.

Data collected summer of 2005
Final Report issued Jan. 2007

Reanalysis in Spring 2009

Reports shared with academic area, reported to faculty in Focus on in Fall 2008.

Used in longitudinal analysis of new CT analysis in Spring 2009

Adoption of Book – Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education by Mary J. Allen

Oct. 2007  

Assessment Task Force adopts format for writing all-college and major outcomes

Oct. 2007 Format shared with department chairs in Nov. 2007 with first drafts of outcome rewrites due by Jan. 2008

Assessment Advocate Committee formed and charged with creating rubrics faculty could use for analyzing student portfolio exhibits for all six college-wide outcomes.

Spring 2008  

Faculty and Dean attend HLC Assessment Workshop

Feb. 2008  

Faculty endorse six college-wide outcome rubrics and agree to use the reasoning and critical thinking rubric during the next academic year

May 2008 faculty meeting  

Faculty participate in work week – focus on assessment, curriculum, and RRGPSP

Aug. 2008 Workshop/overview of assessment

Department chairs serve as assessment team.  Adopt Assessment Clear and Simple.

Sept. 2008  
Six issues of Focus On produced Issued monthly from Sept. 2008 - May 2009 Shared with faculty with invitations for small group discussion

Assessment plans produced and submitted to academic affairs for review

Fall 2008 Semester Plans need to include attention to reasoning and critical thinking and one major outcome
Faculty meetings Monthly throughout the 2008-09 academic year Assessment and reasoning and critical thinking materials shared
Assessment reports produced and submitted to academic affairs for review May 2009 Department members revise syllabi to address weaknesses articulated in assessment reports during the summer of 2009

Assessment Web site established

Summer 2009 Reach out to constituents
Longitudinal assessment of students Fall 2009 Focus groups discuss four issues identified in report

The most recent departmental assessment plans are available for the academic area and for Community Life.   

Assessment Report

Assessment reports are yearly evaluations across the college’s services, policies, personnel, and facilities. Each report provides vital statistics on students served during the year, goals for students, and their progress on objective measures already identified in the assessment plan. Each unit identifies: a) strengths and weaknesses within their data and; b) changes implied by the measures and;
c) recommendations for the future.

The most recent reports are available for the academic area and for Community Life.   

Sharing Our Learning

A culture of learning requires that all members analyze and reflect on findings about the institution. Data mines and analyses of trends and national norms are important for understanding the college’s processes. These are shared with the college on an ongoing basis through appropriate Administrative Responsibility Team members, who discuss findings with their constituent groups. Institutional research also provides individualized summaries and interpretations for departments, committees, and individuals.

This Web site is a primary means of sharing institutional research with the constituents. Groups may access reports relevant to them through the links, below. You will be asked a proper authorization to access data. 

All professionals may access summaries of assessments important to the college’s current strategic priorities in the periodic Focus on series available in the Institutional Research folder of the e-mail client Public Folders. These and other campus-wide documents are available here.

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Assessments of Institutional Effectiveness

Olivet College takes its own responsibility for assessing all areas and functions very seriously, drawing on both quantitative and qualitative sources across all constituencies. The President’s Office receives regularly updated summaries of primary outcomes on student progress, graduates, services, personnel, facilities, and finances. Tracked over years and against appropriate benchmarks, this data affect decisions by various departments and programs across the college.

Qualitative data is collected regularly across the campus, including the Parent Advisory Council, focus groups with students and faculty, and the student feedback forum each semester. Staff and faculty senates also make recommendations, with minutes available to campus personnel in the Public Folders of the e-mail client.

The college regularly measures and surveys experiences, values, and opinions of new students and students at the end of the first year and at graduation. Graduates are surveyed one year after matriculation for their professional status and opinions on various services and facilities. Student opinion surveys are completed for every course every semester, with summaries made available to individual faculty, department chairs, and the academic dean available here.

Ongoing Assessment Activities

  • All academic majors/departments have measurable learning outcomes.
  • All courses identify which of the all-college outcomes will be addressed and assessed.
  • All faculty members are responsible for conducting assessment of student learning in their courses and using that information to inform instruction 
  • Each academic department is responsible for assessing one all-college outcome each year and one outcome from each major each year.
  • Yearly assessment plans are collected and reviewed in Oct.of each academic year.
  • Annual assessment reports are collected and reviewed in May of each academic year.
  • The Office of Academic Affairs produces an assessment newsletter (Focus-On) monthly as well as provides assessment tips to faculty at monthly faculty meetings.
  • Surveys are administered to new students twice during the freshman year.
  • Surveys are administered to graduating seniors each May.
  • An assessment site has been established and is maintained under the guidance of the Office of Academic Affairs and Institutional Research and Assessment. Surveys are available from at the Institutional Research site for professionals with a proper log on here

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Institutional Research

Olivet College assessments are dedicated to continuous improvement of programs and services that develop responsible graduates with the competencies, orientations, and ethics to better themselves and others. The Office of Institutional Research is guided by the precept that the core of all improvement is learning based on systematic inquiry and evidence. 

This culture of learning is best achieved in an environment of reflective assessment established on the same trust and values practiced in the classroom. Key to that trust is honesty, supported by the values of objectivity and of inquiry aimed at understanding. In all of this, Olivet College assessments are sensitive to the needs of individuals and of a dynamic, diverse society.
Goals and Commitments
The Office of Institutional Research supports Olivet College’s educational mission and strategic priorities by informing decision-making at all levels; We strive to create a learning culture of evidence founded on the best knowledge and scientific methods; And we promote the welfare of all through ethical and professional use of all information shared with us:

Research Ethics
All institutional research at Olivet College is guided by the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (APA, 2003) and the Association for Institutional Research’s (2001) Code of Ethics. The security and confidentiality of all data is assured by Institutional Research and Assessment, the President of the College, and all college personnel participating in data collection or reporting. All data is treated as sensitive and is handled congruent with FERPA by institutional personnel only as is needed to fulfill their job expectations. Student responses are never reported back to teachers, advisors, or other students. Surveys, for example, are always shredded after data is collated and secured.

Those not performing institutional research should obtain the permission of the President of the college or their supervising vice president. All individuals are bound by the ethical principles of their profession, of institutional research at Olivet College, and the principles of responsible use of results, below:

Responsible Use
All college data, including that in plans and reports and data mines, are governed by FERPA and the college’s confidentiality policies. Those who see such reports or data are subject to these understandings. This means that assessment information and data must be used with caution and common sense and is released publicly only as authorized by a vice president or as indicated. No individual data is reported, but should individual information be inferred or apparent or discovered from a report, users agree that they will protect confidentiality and identity of the individual.

Major activities involve: a) data mining for causes of retention, excellence, graduation, and post-graduate success of students; b) overseeing external reporting and data requests (e.g., IPEDS); and c) monitoring federal, state, and accrediting requirements, including required disclosures.

The Office of Institutional Research prepares special and regular reports in conjunction with and for the President and Administrative Responsibility Team. This includes the summaries of the college’s primary outcomes and national and regional benchmarks. Institutional research also reports findings to various college groups, through the Assessment web site and the Focus on series prepared with the Office of Academic Affairs.

The Office of Institutional Research consults on all matters of efficient data collection and interpretation, including database, survey, and research design. Projects range from assistance with assessment design and automation, to measurement creation, standardization, and validation, and statistical analyses.

The Office of Institutional Research prepares reports for committees, departments, and others who evaluate and design services and programs. Each year, outcomes are produced for unit/departmental yearly reports, showing mean performance, variability, and numbers or percentages of samples that achieving specified standards in their Assessment Plans.

Association for Institutional Research at http://www.airweb.org/
Michigan Association for Institutional Research at http://www.miair.wayne.edu/
The Higher Learning Commission at http://www.ncahlc.org/
Teacher Education and Accreditation Council at http://www.teac.org/.
Michigan Department of Education at http://www.michigan.gov/mde

References and Readings
Allen, Mary J. (2003). Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.
American Psychological Association. (2002). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Association for Institutional Research. (2001). Code of Ethics. Tallahassee, FL: Association for Institutional Research.
Walvoord, Barbara E. (2004). Assessment Clear and Simple. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.

Public Information

It is your right to know important information about Olivet College. The College notifies constituents each year of their right to the information below:

General Institutional Information
This is available in the Olivet College Academic Catalog. Click this link to find information on accreditation, educational offerings, policies, faculty, and facilities; student activities; career and job placement services; and student financial assistance and policies.

Yearly Reports
Annual reports for different areas may be found in the Public Documents web site . Click this link to see reports of:  Available information and who to contact for assistance in obtaining that information; Health and Safety; Undergraduate Enrollment and Diversity; Student outcomes; Intercollegiate Athletic Program; and the Teacher Preparation Program.

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