Assessment has been defined as, "the systematic collection, review, and use of information about eductational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development" (Palomba & Banta, 1999, p. 4). Quality assessment helps ensure that programs are helping to fulfill the mission of Holy Family University. Assessment can let programs (including administrative units) know whether or not they are meeting their objectives in support of the broader university goals and where to make adjustments in the curriculum to better meet those objectives.
Proper assessment planning and execution also helps faculty to understand where students need more support and how best to provide that support. Good assessment practices will ultimately lead to better classroom experiences for both faculty and students.
Program level assessment is necessary beyond the grades students receive for several reasons. The first and most important is that program assessment aims to measure different objectives than those found at the course level. While in a course there is specific subject matter that needs to be learned at the program level objectives may be concerned with general ability to apply knowledge to real world experiences, or ability to articulate arguments and synthesize information from various sources. These objectives while related are typically a different level of analysis.
Grades are also not sufficient measures of program assessment because of factors such as grade inflation and individual school/unit/instructor differences in grading practices. Program assessment allows the university to determine not just if students are passing, but whether objectives are being met in support of the broader mission.
Additionally, program assessment helps the university to meet accreditation standards. While this external force is certainly important, the strongest drive for the university and individuals to want to partake in quality assessment is to strengthen programs so that our graduates can compete and be successful in their chosen field.