The college of NTID at RIT was involved in outcomes assessment well before this process received national attention. As a college, NTID has been actively engaged in the assessment of institutional outcomes since its establishment in 1965. NTID’s unique mission, federal funding and strategic plan have helped shape what our college calls performance indicators and what traditionally has comprised our college’s approach to outcomes assessment.
In 1996, college-level performance indicators were established in response to the Congressionally –mandated Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). These included a series of institutional effectiveness objectives and benchmarks for: (1) enrollment; (2) diversity (student); (3) retention (first year); (4) graduation; (5) placement; (6) student satisfaction; and (7) alumni satisfaction. These performance outcome indicators have been consistently reported for the college in general, but were not broken down by program.
So, while assessment of institutional outcomes was a part of our collegiate culture for a long time, assessment of student learning outcomes at the program level was more recent. Fortunately, NTID’s Strategic Objectives (1999-2004) placed attention on student outcomes assessment and established a college steering committee, the Student Outcomes Assessment Steering Committee, to help formulate a grassroots approach. The work of the Steering Committee has provided a good beginning for our college planning.
At about the same time the Strategic Objectives were drafted, the Middle States Association (MSA) of Colleges and Schools began to place special emphasis on the assessment of student academic achievement as part of its accreditation process. In concurrence with and in response to that emphasis, the Dean charged the already established Steering Committee with oversight of the student outcomes assessment efforts to ready the college for its next scheduled MSA review.
The NTID system of assessment was uniquely unit-based and faculty-driven. The June 2001 Report of the Steering Committee on Outcomes Assessment explained this approach in the following way:
- NTID’s Strategic Plan (1992) established six domains of graduation exit competencies. These domains and their associated sub-competencies lay the framework for student outcomes assessment.
- Our accrediting body pointed out during its site visit in 1997 that NTID needed to develop a coherent approach to outcomes assessment. In their report, Middle States Association (MSA) indicated that NTID should invest further attention to student outcomes:
- "Outcomes-based measures should be more fully developed, with the inclusion of students in process-oriented, self evaluation based upon clearly communicated competencies and indicators." (Middle States Association Accreditation Site Visit Report to RIT, 1997)
- As a result, NTID’s Leadership Team requested outcomes assessment be included as one of the targeted initiatives within the NTID’s Strategic Initiatives Blueprint (1999-2004). The Blueprint specified that the central purpose of the outcomes assessment plan would be to:
- Improve teaching and learning, to contribute to the personal development of students, to ensure institutional improvement and to facilitate accountability.