Resource Administration


Why Assess?

Why do we need to assess?  We create programs because we know we need them, so why is assessing them so important -- we know they're good, and we'll get complaints if they are not good.  We know our students and what they're like, so why profile them?  It's all just related to accreditation, isn't it?

Over the years the term "assessment" has cultivated quite accidentally a very negative connotation.  To "assess" brings images of extra work, data that sits and is not analyzed, reports looked over perhaps once but which then sit on dusty shelves, and surveying fatigue.  Additionally, to many, to "assess" something  seems to imply that there exists a problem and we are using some methodology such as a survey to search out this flaw.

Personally, I prefer the term "information gathering".  It is not that we program then we must "assess it", investigating the program to see what is wrong.  Instead visualize the following: we have some important question that we would like answered, and whose answer we will use in some predetermined way.  How do we gather the information?  We look to see what information we are already collecting and if we can slip our question in there, or perhaps we are already collecting this information and are just not documenting it in any systematic way.  We may need to come up with a new way to collect this information altogether. Since this information is important to us, we know how it will be used, and we've thought about the least effortful ways possible to collect it, it is not a waste of time to us.

This is assessment to me.

The information you collect may be about students' profiles, experiences, needs, thoughts, attitudes, the campus environment, your department's needs, predictors of needs etc. -- any question/kind of research that is important to you (important being defined as being necessary and/or usable).  To close the circle, information on a program can be collected too, but think of it more as a profile of your program -- what are its characteristics and how well do they fit the planned characteristics of the program?

If we think of assessment in this way, "information gathering", most will occur before programs are initiated, and will feed into how the program is shaped.  Information about the program itself would be as a follow-up, and would be just one of the types of information a department would collect.

Happy information gathering!

Conceptual Framework

O.A.S.I.S. Summary Document - A summary of strategic overall long-term assessment planning in Student Affairs.


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Division Student Learning Outcomes


#1. Students exhibit connection and application of knowledge developed across classroom, co-curricular, residential, and other learning environments.

#2. Students demonstrate integration of academic, social, cultural, and personal developmental progress through increasingly autonomous navigation of Duke University.

#3. Students seek and engage in at least one deep friendship or group experience that has a sustained impact on the student’s understanding of their own identity and their connectedness to others.

#4. Students learn and practice knowledge, attitudes, and skills that reflect an expanded understanding of culture and its influences.

#5. Students display heightened social responsibility and move towards active citizenship.

#6. Students integrate an ethical perspective into their personal decision making processes.

#7. Students use a comprehensive view of leadership to identify and advance their personal leadership domain(s) within the Duke community and society at large.

#8. Students develop the capacity to identify and appropriately use resources available for achieving and sustaining physical, emotional and spiritual health.

#9. Students develop emotional competence and authenticity in relation to self and others.

#10. Students progress towards congruence between internal values and beliefs and external behaviors.

#11. Students initiate conversations, activities, and relationships that encourage healthy behaviors and reduce unhealthy behaviors.


A student displaying active citizenship is one who understands the obligation and undertakes the responsibility to improve community conditions, build healthier communities and address social problems (Tufts, 2009).

Authenticity in relation to self and others speaks to a student’s clarification and development of their identity, interests, and values.

Autonomous navigation is the ability for a student to self-govern through charting a developmentally progressive course of action.

A comprehensive view of leadership reflects the theory underlying the Six Domains of Leadership (Sitkin & Lind, 2006), focusing on capitalizing on strengths and overcoming weaknesses in domains such as the personal, relational, contextual, inspirational, supportive, and responsible.

Connectedness creates a sense of belongingness for the student via a meaningful relationship developed within the frame of the university.

Culture reflects a student’s worldview that is related to participation in one or more culture groups.  These groups are typically defined by national and/or ethnic boundaries, but they may also represent other affiliations (Hammer & Bennett, 2001).

Deep friendship refers to the quality of that student interaction.

Emotional competence occurs when a student has the ability to not only identify, understand the source of, and modulate their emotions, but also to directly and effectively express their emotions, allowing the student to relate to others and imbuing them with a sense of agency.

Influences on culture are interpreted broadly to include not only identity but also positions in society, i.e. gender, race, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religion, education, etc.

The knowledge, attitudes, and skills referred to encompass the capacity to function effectively in a diverse world utilizing a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes and policies based on an understanding and appreciation for differences between people.  This demands the capacity for self-assessment and consciousness of dynamics when cultures, groups and individuals interact.

Learning environments are spaces whereby learners manage content, process and communicate with others in supportive environments which have high levels of self efficacy and self-motivation and use learning as a primary transformative force (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1989).

Personal decision-making processes refer to the series of internal steps that occur when an individual consciously makes a choice within a real-world situation based on the individual’s own attitudes and experiences.

Social responsibility involves a student’s progression from a siloed perspective of the self towards an empathetic outlook within a broadened community of others.

Sustained impact is demonstrated by an experience that leads to personal growth and reflections.

Creation of Division Learning Outcomes

In Spring 2006, 19 individuals representing various departments and functions across the Division were charged with identifying key issues for future consideration and divisional preparedness to respond to these issues over the next few years.  The dialogue and review of many documents resulted in a thematic analysis, which formed the foundation of the Division’s Strategic Plan.  These five goals articulated within the Student Affairs Strategic Plan have provided the philosophy and direction by which our practice has actualized over the last few years.


Protocols and Resource Handouts

Although research into the co-curricular aspect of college and iniversity students' lives is not a new concept, the emergence of Student Affairs Assessment areas is relatively new.  We do feel very supported though by higher education personnel associations who have carved a niche for student affairs assessment discussions as well as by the vast amount of assessment information available online.


Other Student Affairs Office Websites


Recording Student Attendance

We are excited to let you know that attendance tracking through the DukeGroups system is now ready for rollout! This simple tool is your gateway to gathering basic assessment data about the students attending your programs and events, information that will greatly enhance your ability to demonstrate progress towards goals and objectives for your department, and the division as a whole.