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Educational Assessment

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The mission of Vassar College is to make accessible “the means of a thorough, well-proportioned and liberal education”* that inspires each individual to lead a purposeful life. The College makes possible an education that promotes analytical, informed, and independent thinking and sound judgment; encourages articulate expression; and nurtures intellectual curiosity, creativity, respectful debate and engaged citizenship. Vassar supports a high standard of engagement in teaching and learning, scholarship and artistic endeavor; a broad and deep curriculum; and a residential campus that fosters a learning community.

Assessment is the process of evaluating how well Vassar is delivering education to its students that live up to its mission. It is an ongoing process that involves a clear articulation of learning outcomes and goals that embody its mission, developing tools to measure how well students are meeting those goals, and to reflect what those tools reveal in order to make improvements to our curriculum, practices, and programming that help us better fulfill our mission. The process of assessment is often referred to as the “assessment loop,” which is pictured in the side graphic.

Assessment is also an essential component in Vassar’s accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education as one of the seven standards for accreditation. To be accredited, Vassar must have “clearly stated educational goals at the institution and degree/program levels, which are interrelated with one another, with relevant educational experiences, and with the institution’s mission,” conduct “organized and systematic assessments, ...evaluating the extent of student achievement of institutional and degree/program goals,” and “consider and use…assessment results for the improvement of educational effectiveness.” (See the MSCHE Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation.)

The organization of Vassar’s assessments includes the following:

  • General education learning goals
  • Learning goals for the three content requirements for a Vassar degree:
    • First-year writing seminar
    • Quantitative analysis
    • Language proficiency
  • Learning goals for each department, interdepartmental program, and multidisciplinary program that offers a major
  • Learning goals for our “intensives” as part of the rebalanced curriculum adopted in 2016