Departmental Assessment: How Some Campuses Are Effectively Evaluating the Collective Work of Faculty

Document Type

Research Report

Original Publication Date



Originally published by American Association for Higher Education, One Dupont Circle, Suite 360, Washington, DC 20036-1110.

ERIC Document: ED451739

Date of Submission

July 2014


From This study assessed the ways in which academic departments in U.S. colleges and universities are evaluated through a survey of about 130 institutions across the Carnegie university categories. This survey and literature review were supplemented by site visits to eight universities. The authors were surprised to find a great amount of departmental evaluation going on at the universities. The collective work of faculty is evaluated in as many as five different ways and some campuses use all five of these approaches. The problem is that these methods are disconnected from one another. The methods are: (1) program review; (2) outcomes assessment; (3) specialized accreditation; (4) financial accounting initiatives; and (5) internal quality assurance. The research suggests that effective departmental assessment depends on: (1) the degree to which the organizational and cultural setting promotes an atmosphere conducive to evaluation; (2) the credibility and fairness of the evaluation policies and practices; and (3) the validity and reliability of the evaluation standards, criteria, and measures. The study concludes unit assessment that takes place in a climate supportive of quality improvement, enhances organizational motivation by treating the department as a collective, gives maximum flexibility to identify and answer their own evaluation questions, and takes seriously issues of data quality and credibility that will be both effective and growth-producing. (Contains 2 tables and 28 references.) (SLD)


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