Office of Assessment
Grand Canyon University (GCU) fosters a culture of student assessment and improvement by establishing a strong foundation for assessment of student learning and implementing institutional goals and benchmarks.
The Office of Assessment, as part of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, functions to facilitate continuous improvement of student learning and is responsible for management, analysis and informational reporting of assessment data collected by GCU.
Yet, "assessment" is greater than a single office or operational area. All stakeholders are involved in student learning and institutional experience and, therefore, are part of the ongoing collaboration and effort to promote a culture of assessment among faculty, staff and students.
Learn more about assessment at GCU and our commitment to the highest standards of academic excellence by calling us at 855-GCU-LOPE.
The assessment glossary is available to help you understand key terms and phrases related to the Office of Assessment and Operation Impact.
Our mission is to facilitate continuous improvement of student learning and to remove obstacles to learning by affecting change at operational, tactical and strategic levels. In addition, we manage, store and report assessment data collected by GCU. Our office is a central institutional resource for ensuring that GCU is producing high-quality graduates and fulfilling its goals as set forth in the university's declared mission and vision, pillars and guiding principles.
If you would like to learn more about student assessment methodologies, the importance of assessment and the significant role assessment plays in higher education, please visit the sites below. These resources include information from accrediting bodies, education associations and articles for best practices for assessment.
- Association of American Colleges and Universities (aacu.org)
- Center for Education Assessment (nciea.org)
- Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) (cae.org)
- The Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org)
- Internet Resources for Higher Education Outcomes Assessment - NC State University (assessmentcommons.org)
- Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education (assessmentcommons.org)
- National Center for Education Statistics (nces.ed.gov)
- Nine Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning
- TaskStream (taskstream.com)
Student Assessment at Grand Canyon University
At GCU, student assessment is defined as the process of gathering and discussing information from multiple and diverse sources in order to develop a deep understanding of what students know, understand and can do with their knowledge as a result of their educational experiences. This process culminates when assessment results are used to improve subsequent learning (Huba and Freed, 2000).
GCU's faculty-driven, course-embedded and performance-based approach to assessment is ongoing, intentional, thorough and applicable so that it will have the most significant possible impact on improvement of student learning and university functions and processes. Our ultimate goal is to improve student learning and the total university experience by enhancing instructional effectiveness, removing obstacles to learning, facilitating student persistence toward completion of an academic program and demonstrating purposeful effort toward institutional effectiveness.
Essential to the institutionalization of assessment and our commitment to continuous improvement is the development of a culture of assessment among faculty, staff and students. The resulting establishment of widespread reflective practice and acquired evaluative expertise characterizes our community and commitment to a culture of student assessment.
Assessment of Student Learning
GCU employs multiple methods to ensure the assessment of student learning. At the university-level, GCU practices a blind review process of student artifacts collected through the university's curriculum-embedded, direct assessment approach for both undergraduate and graduate mission-critical competencies. The blind review process is designed to ensure that the student learning evidence compiled through these campus-wide efforts is authentic, valid and reliable.
Programmatic assessment evaluates course, program and university-wide outcomes on an ongoing basis. The resulting data guide improvement action plans, inform curricular and instructional changes and spur further development at all levels to more effectively meet student and all stakeholder needs.
Program efficacy and performance are assessed and evaluated in a recursive three- to five-year cycle which culminates in a formal program review. Program review assesses data gathered from multiple indicators appropriate to a program's mission and educational purposes, and concomitant with student success and external requirements. Ongoing student assessment, analysis and improvement actions occur during the cycle, all of which provide evidence for the final review.
Additionally, GCU participates in a wide variety of national assessment initiatives which provide outcome assessment and comparative benchmarking opportunities, as well as informative data for assessing instructional and curricular effectiveness and for informing improvement actions. These include, but are not limited to, NSSE, CLA, ETS PP, NCLEX, AEPA, NES, Praxis, Peregrine and MCAT.
GCU also develops, deploys and continually improves a wide range of surveys to obtain input from constituencies. This systematic and robust approach includes recurring faculty and student end of course surveys, end of program surveys, initial course surveys, alumni surveys, student services surveys and a wide variety of other discipline- and area-specific surveys.
Assessment of student learning results and targeted survey analyses contribute much of the information required for internal and external accountability and success.
University Assessment Committee
The University Assessment Committee (UAC) identifies assessment goals for GCU, provides discussion and assistance in the development of assessment tools and assists with creating a culture of assessment at GCU. The individual committee members work collaboratively to identify and develop assessment tools and serve as liaisons in communicating assessment strategies and building a culture of student assessment in their respective colleges or departments.
The membership of the UAC includes the director of academic assessment as chair, representatives from each of our eight colleges and representative administrative personnel.
Purpose and Scope
It is the purpose and responsibility of the UAC to ensure GCU focuses on learner-centered assessment as a best practice. The assessment process requires establishing the outcomes to be measured, selecting and/or creating measurement instruments, determining measurement criteria and using the data to generate changes for improvement. Therefore, the UAC is charged with assessing the accomplishment of GCU's goals as set forth in the mission statements as well as program and general education core skills goals. The UAC is also responsible for monitoring and evaluating the assessment efforts of individual colleges.