Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

The Process of Outcome Assessment in a School of Allied Health Sciences

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

The Process of Outcome Assessment in a School of Allied Health Sciences

Article excerpt

This article describes a process of outcome assessment for a school of allied health sciences to assist others who may be involved in a similar endeavor. In the mid-1990s, the Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Office of Planning and Institutional Improvement charged each of the schools on its campus with developing a process to determine how and to what degree students were meeting the IUPUI Principles of Undergraduate Education; the focus was on student learning. The administration and faculty of the School of Allied Health Sciences decided to expand the assessment from student learning to include assessment of the school's five goal statements, which were part of its mission. After several years of work, faculty in the school developed a plan of assessment including competencies, strategies, measurements, and desired outcomes. In 2001, the outcomes themselves were assessed, and actions were taken; reassessment occurred in 2002. J Allied Health. 2004; 33:104-112.

OUTCOME ASSESSMENT in higher education, particularly in general education, has been receiving widespread attention. Much of the assessment has been driven by external constituencies stressing accountability. Although almost all institutions report involvement in outcomes assessment,1 often there is a documented lack of faculty involvement in the process or resistance to the process,2,3 despite the fact faculty involvement should be an integral aspect of assessment.4 Without faculty involvement, the process can be seen as merely an administrative exercise because

It is in the individual college classrooms that the fundamental work of higher education-teaching and learning-takes place. If assessment is ever to improve substantially the quality of student learning, and not just provide greater accountability and efficiency, both faculty and students must become actively, continuously and personally involved.5

As a result of accreditation standards and requirements for the various allied health disciplines, faculty at the Indiana University School of Allied Health Sciences (SAHS) had been involved in outcome assessment for many years as it pertained to their individual disciplines. Several years ago, however, when the Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) campus administration requested that all schools housed on the campus, including the SAHS, develop outcome assessments for their students specifically focused on general education objectives and assessment, faculty in the SAHS needed to develop a more inclusive assessment plan that included the general education phase of a student's learning and learning in the discipline.

Most institutions of higher education have addressed in some way the subject of general education. Some institutions have chosen to have a broad set of requirements, from which students are permitted to choose courses or learning experiences. Some institutions have developed a core curriculum that includes courses that all undergraduate students must take before graduation. Other institutions have focused on learning outcomes and require students to show mastery of these outcomes. All approaches are valid, and an institution selects a particular approach based on its own history and culture. At IUPUI, the decision was made to address general education for the institution's undergraduate students by pursuing the development of a set of learning principles that would permeate the undergraduate experience. Using a collaborative process, IUPUI developed the Principles of Undergraduate Learning (PULs), which were endorsed by the IUPUI Faculty Council in May 1998.6 The PULs describe fundamental competencies and awareness that the faculty believe all undergraduates of IUPUI should exhibit. The PULs are as follows:

1. Core communication and quantitative skills-students should be able to read, speak, and listen; perform quantitative analyses; and use information resources and technology. …

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