A Comprehensive Assessment Plan for Professional Preparation Programs in Health Education at Eastern Illinois University

Article excerpt

Federal- and state-mandated criteria for accountability and assessment of student competence led to an "assessment movement" in higher education during the 1980s.|1~ Legislative mandates emerged in response to critiques of student and institutional performance, coupled with declining revenue sources for public education.|1-3~ As a result of the reform movement in higher education, more than 80% of American colleges and universities implemented assessment measures.|4~ The National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges suggests the focus of institutional program and student outcomes assessment be directed toward increasing effectiveness of academic programs and improving student learning and performance.|5~ The federal focus on assessment prompted all six of higher education's regional accrediting bodies to revise procedures and place more emphasis on assessment as a form of institutional accountability.|6~ Since accreditation is now linked directly to assessment, all institutions of higher education will be required to engage in student assessment activities.

ASSESSMENT IN HIGHER EDUCATION

Numerous methods and techniques have been identified as appropriate approaches in the assessment process.|7~ Locally developed achievement measures in the form of comprehensive examinations, recording of student performances, and simulation exercises have been used successfully as assessment strategies. These activities can be administered on a before-and-after basis to allow a more comprehensive view of student progress.|8~

Other ways of collecting assessment data that may reflect the quality of student preparation include surveying external groups such as alumni, employers of graduates, internship preceptors, and educational institutions that former students might later attend.|1,9~ Advisory councils comprised of individuals from these groups can provide expertise in developing assessment instruments and surveys.|10~

Self-report data collection in the forms of surveys, inventories, interviews, panels, and journals allow students to assess their own progress in the program. Self-assessment can prove beneficial to students by allowing them to be more self-guided, as well as providing significant information concerning the program and curriculum.|11~

Program quality can be assessed through pass rates on professional licensing examinations such as the National Athletic Trainers Association Certification Exam and the National Teacher Exams.|7~ Use of nationally standardized examinations such as the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (ACT/CAAP) as an assessment method probably is more common to institutions than most other assessment tools.|12~

Collecting samples of student course work in the form of portfolios has been used as an assessment tool. Examples of portfolio components include examinations, research or term papers, academic writings, video tapes of student performances, and course projects or assignments. Faculty members as well as employers, intern preceptors, and advisory council members review and analyze portfolios to assess student progress toward institutional or departmental goals.|7,13,14~

ASSESSMENT IN HEALTH EDUCATION

The Role Delineation Project Curriculum Framework, developed by the National Task Force on the Preparation and Practice of Health Educators,|15~ assists in standardizing educational goals and objectives for preparation of entry-level health educators. The Framework has been used to assess and revise graduate and undergraduate curricula at a number of universities.|16~

Using a self-assessment tool based on the seven responsibilities for entry-level health educators, Schmidt and Beall|17~ compared perceptions of students in a professional school and community health preparation program prior to and following their field experience. Hayden|18~ used a self-assessment instrument to survey senior health education majors' perceived competencies as they prepared to take the certification examination. …