Assessment refers to a process of (1) defining student learning outcomes for a course or degree program, (2) measuring whether students are achieving the identified learning outcomes, (3) analyzing the results, and (4) determining how to use the results to make changes in teaching or the curriculum to improve student learning. This assessment plan articulates a process for ongoing assessment of Albany Law School’s learning outcomes for each degree program beginning in academic year 2016-2017.
Assessment Plan Goals
The goals of this assessment plan are to improve student learning and to ensure we comply with various accrediting rules. Specifically, our goals are:
- To strengthen Albany law School’s program of education by gathering data about student learning, analyzing the data, and adopting changes to respond to areas of strength and weakness
- To articulate a process to assess student learning outcomes at an institutional level over a 7-year period.
- To identify the roles of faculty and the administration in conducting institutional assessment.
- To demonstrate compliance with the ABA’s requirement that, by the 2017-18 academic year, every accredited Law School has a publicly available assessment plan.
- To provide students with a certification under “Pathway 1” of 22 N.Y.C.R.R. § 520.18 that they have the requisite skills and values that the Law School has identified as important to the practice of law.
- To demonstrate compliance with the Standards promulgated by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
In Fall 2016 and in Spring 2017, a syllabus from each course taught was collected and an analysis conducted to identify which of the learning outcomes were covered in which courses. Every course in the law school’s curriculum is designed to achieve some, but not necessarily all, of the student learning outcomes set out above. The results will be made available on our assessment website. The Curriculum Map identifies where each of our learning outcomes is being covered in our required, core, and elective curriculum.
Implementation and Roles
The Assessment Committee will play the leading role in coordinating our institutional assessment activities, as per the following:
- During each year, Albany Law School will assess one to two learning outcomes using a combination of direct and indirect measures in accordance with the timeline set forth in the chart below.
- Each spring, the Assessment Committee will meet to discuss the method(s) by which each outcome scheduled to be reviewed will be measured. The Committee will identify the direct and indirect measures it will use to collect data and develop rubrics, surveys, or other instruments as necessary. Performance indicators may be modified as a majority of the committee deems appropriate.
- In the following fall, the Committee will begin to collect the data.
- After gathering the data for each outcome, the Assessment Committee will analyze the data and report its findings to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Academic Affairs Committee.
- The Assessment Committee will also make recommendations regarding changes to the academic program to the Academic Dean and Academic Affairs Committee based on its findings as to whether outcomes were achieved.
- The Academic Affairs Committee will review reports and make recommendations based on the reports. Recommendations may be directed to administrative departments, faculty committees, Faculty, Associate Deans, or the Dean.
- At the last faculty meeting of the academic year, the Assessment Committee will deliver an annual report on assessment to the Faculty.
- At the last faculty meeting of the academic year, the Academic Affairs Committee will deliver an annual report detailing curricular changes proposed or made in response to the assessment report.
Conducting the Assessment
In the spring before each annual cycle, the Assessment Committee will create a plan for assessment of the Program outcomes identified for the following year. The plan will identify what data will be collected and how the Committee will gather and analyze the data. For each learning outcome that is assessed, the Assessment Committee must use at least two measures, at least one of which is “direct,” and compare the results. (See examples below)
Assessment data will be analyzed and reported in an aggregated fashion. Identifiable student and faculty information will be redacted. The Assessment Committee will keep minutes and document findings. The Assessment Committee is responsible for following up on recommendations made year-to-year. In addition, in accordance with ABA Standard 315, the Assessment Committee is charged with conducting an ongoing evaluation of the assessment process itself. It will report, on at least an annual basis, progress under this plan, recommending changes to the learning outcomes or assessment process.
Examples of Direct and Indirect Measures
See the Timetable for the Assessment Plan