AALHE and Watermark Release New Report on the State of the Assessment Profession

Watermark and the AALHE are proud to announce their first joint research study analyzing the professional development needs of assessment practitioners.

NEW YORK, NYJune 7, 2018—Increasing calls for accountability and quality improvement in higher education have prompted institutions to further develop methods that reinforce their commitment to student success, including the assessment of student learning outcomes. A new report released by the Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education (AALHE) and Watermark this week explores the evolution of outcomes assessment on college campuses and provides recommendations to better support assessment practitioners in performing this critical work.

In 2016, the AALHE and Watermark, the largest provider of assessment software for higher ed worldwide, partnered toward a common mission to improve student learning. Together, the organizations strive to develop resources that help assessment practitioners and institutions advance the practice of meaningful assessment, provide opportunities for assessment professionals to connect, as well as conduct and share research on current assessment practices and results.

As part of these efforts, Watermark and AALHE worked collaboratively to analyze data related to assessment in higher education. The organizations have released the report co-authored by Laura Ariovich (Prince George’s Community College), Conna Bral (Midwestern State University), Patricia Gregg (Georgia State University), Matthew Gulliford (Watermark), and Jennifer Ann Morrow (University of Tennessee), titled:

The Assessment Profession in Higher Education: Addressing the Varied Professional Development Needs of Practitioners

The report provides insights into several areas of assessment including:

  • practitioners’ perceptions of assessment
  • the roles/positions and activities conducted by assessment practitioners
  • practitioners’ professional development needs

The results of the research revealed mixed perceptions among assessment practitioners that reflect a maturing industry. For example, some survey respondents cited real progress in utilizing outcomes assessment to inform program improvements.

“I enjoy seeing faculty discuss results and come up with improvements to the program curriculum and pedagogy,” stated one assessment analyst who participated in the research.”

Other professionals cited a lack of sufficient training and resources as barriers to maximizing the impact of outcomes assessment efforts on campuses.

“The scope of assessment activities and the limited number of qualified individuals to conduct high quality (i.e., reliable and valid) assessments mean decisions often have to be made on what will be done and what we don’t have the manpower or time to do,” stated a Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Research and Compliance.

The report authors provide practical recommendations for institutions and professional organizations to better support assessment practitioners, particularly in the area of professional development.

  • Collaborative sharing across institutions and assessment personnel should be examined as a viable method for supporting the work of assessment practitioners.
  • Professional associations, individual institutions, and consortia should offer professional development opportunities in a wide variety of delivery methods to meet the varied needs of practitioners.
  • Topics addressed in professional development offerings must include both assessment tasks, such as conducting data collection and analysis activities, and more complex assessment work, such as creating assessment cultures and facilitating change in higher education organizations.

“We see a real alignment in our organizations to advance the practice of assessment and help institutions use better data to improve student learning and institutional outcomes – an area that is of critical and growing importance to the future of higher education,” said Dr. Monica Stitt-Bergh, President of AALHE. “We share the belief that this collaboration has been mutually beneficial for our organizations and higher education more broadly.”

“We have a great deal of respect for AALHE, its researchers, and the leadership it provides for the higher education community,” said Kevin Michielsen, CEO of Watermark. “This study underscores our commitment to supporting and empowering higher education with the kind of information and insight needed to drive decision making that ultimately improves student and institutional outcomes.”

To learn more about Watermark and AALHE’s collaborative efforts and to download the report, visit www.watermarkinsights.com.

About Watermark
Watermark’s mission is to put better data into the hands of administrators, educators, and learners everywhere in order to empower them to connect information and gain insights into learning which will drive meaningful improvements. Through its innovative educational intelligence platform, Watermark supports institutions in developing an intentional approach to learning and development based on data they can trust.

Founded in 2009, the Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education is a non-profit professional association for assessment practitioners at colleges, universities, and higher education support organizations. It serves the needs of those in higher education for whom assessment is a tool to help them understand learning and develop processes for improving it. AALHE provides resources and a forum to support assessment practitioners’ professional development and the research, documentation, open discussion of issues, strategies, policies, and processes associated with the use of assessment to improve student learning and institutional effectiveness in fostering student success. For more information and to become a member, visit www.aalhe.org.

Victoria Guzzo
Director of Corporate Communications