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Assessment

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Assessment is the process of determining the degree to which students are learning what faculty believe is essential for them to know so faculty can make changes to improve the process of teaching and learning.

How does Christopher Newport assess student learning?

Christopher Newport uses a variety of methods to assess student learning, including:

  • Student performance on tests, assignments and activities that are a regular part of courses
  • Standardized exams like the Educational Testing Services Major Field Tests to assess academic disciplines like psychology and economics, and Madison Assessment’s Scientific Reasoning Test to evaluate the Natural World Area of Inquiry
  • Faculty review of a sample of capstone projects to identify patterns of strengths and weaknesses in the work produced by students in a particular major

Students’ degree of satisfaction with their CNU experiences, motivation to perform well in their courses and interest in engaging in extracurricular activities may also affect learning. Therefore, the University gathers students’ perceptions through national standardized surveys like the National Survey of Student Engagement, questionnaires developed on campus such as the CNU Graduate Exit Survey and focus groups. We also ask alumni to provide information to the University about their views on CNU and their post-graduation activities.

A number of the assessment activities the University conducts necessitate student participation outside of their regular coursework. Some of these are voluntary (though strongly encouraged), while others are required as part of students’ degree program. Students will be informed if they are obliged to undertake the activity or if they may opt out.

The Undergraduate Catalog describes students’ responsibilities as follows: "The University engages in a number of assessment processes in order to gauge the effectiveness of its educational programs and administrative operations. These processes may require students to participate in examinations, surveys, interviews or other information-gathering activities that are not part of any specific course. Each student will be given at least a 10-day notification for any assessment and evaluation activity that requires scheduling prior to participation. The satisfactory completion of assessment and evaluation is a general requirement for graduation from the University."

Students have the opportunity to play an active role in improving the quality of their own degrees. By enabling faculty to make better decisions about what to teach, how to teach it and when to teach it, students’ assessment results help enhance the education of those who come after them, just as those who came before them helped strengthen their education.

Moreover, when students take a standardized national test, they have the opportunity to affect how well CNU is ranked on the test relative to other colleges and universities and, therefore, can help shape the school’s reputation.

Finally, the University may offer various incentives such prizes to encourage student participation and motivation to do their best work. Students will be informed in advance about any incentives associated with participation.

Students’ instructors will know their scores on tests that affect their course grade. In all other circumstances, their test performance and survey answers will be kept confidential. Although the Office of Assessment needs students to write their names and/or CNU ID numbers on the tests and surveys they take outside of classes in order to correlate their responses with information in the student database (GPA, admission test scores etc.), we always remove any identifying information before reporting the results. Faculty and administrators only see the aggregated findings, never individuals’ scores.


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