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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Institution-based models of assessment: Four community college case studies
by Ebersole, Tara Eisenhauer, Ph.D., University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 2007, 251; 3325313
Abstract (Summary)

Institutions of higher learning need to meet state level and accrediting agency mandates regarding student learning outcomes assessment. Accountability in postsecondary education is currently undergoing rapid change at all levels and using assessment is becoming a common means to reveal how well students are learning and progressing at an institution. Currently, each institution is allowed the freedom to develop its own unique assessment plans and policies.

This was a multiple-case research involving four community colleges to examine the relationship between the assessment policies and the impact of the processes on student learning. The case studies involved collecting data from three sources, assessment documents from the four institutions, phone interviews with specific college employees, and phone interviews with external stakeholders who were knowledgeable about the administration and results of the colleges' assessment program. The data were analyzed in individual descriptive narratives for each institution and then within matrices for comparative analysis.

The four institutions in this study were found to be exemplary in the engagement efforts, and energy expended in assessment of student learning outcomes. Each institution was found to provide resources, support, and leadership for their assessment programs. Course, program and institutional level assessment methods were similar across the institutions with greatest variability found primarily in the methods used to assess broad-based skills in the general education program. Within institution variability existed for the successful use and impact of assessment data for different disciplines. Overall, the evidence for improvement of student learning was limited to a few courses and programs at each institution. The reason for this is not yet known and requires further study. Total costs for the assessment programs were often shared among multiple areas within the institutions and most funding for assessment is derived from a reprioritization of existing internal budgets.

The findings suggest that imposing new mandates with regards to assessment may be premature. Significantly more research should be conducted to determine the cost/benefit relationships of assessment on institutions and the most effective means of ensuring a positive impact of assessment on student learning.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: LaNoue, George R.
Commitee: Demorest, Marilyn E., Linksz, Donna, Mandell, Marvin B., Marcotte, Dave E.
School: University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Department: Public Policy
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-A 69/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Community college education, Educational tests & measurements
Keywords: Accountability, Assessment, Community college, Education, Institution-based, Learning, Outcomes, Postsecondary
Publication Number: 3325313
ISBN: 978-0-549-79337-3
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