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Office of Accreditation and Assessment
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Assessment Overview

Teachers College has a well-established and active program of assessment directed at evaluating institutional effectiveness, academic program effectiveness, and student learning. Each academic and administrative unit within the College is responsible for the design and implementation of regular and systematic assessment activities to gauge achievement of the unit’s mission and goals and the unit’s contribution to the College’s mission and goals.
 
The College’s assessment process is outlined in two documents:
It is the intention of both plans to add structure and accountability to the many diverse assessment processes and projects, yet to be flexible enough to allow individual academic and non-academic units to conduct assessments according to the units’ needs and changing contexts. 
 

Guiding Principles on Assessment

The following guiding principles on assessment were developed to outline the College’s approach to designing and implementing all assessment activities.

When: Assessment is an integral part of the daily operations of every academic and nonacademic unit.
  • Units continually evaluate the success of their efforts and view assessment as a process rather than a product.
  • The definition of the “unit” is left to the discretion of the respective vice presidents. A unit might be a department, a program, or a function.
  • Assessment occurs during all phases of unit activities. All new unit activities, programs, or initiatives are expected to include an assessment component.
How: All academic and non-academic units identify, clearly state, and periodically review their goals and objectives.
  • Unit goals and objectives are derived from and consistent with the College’s mission and strategic goals.
  • Expected outcomes for each unit goal or objective are specific and measurable.
  • Assessment activities are appropriate and employ quantitative and qualitative information gathered from a variety of sources with varying perspectives.
  • New assessments should not be designed nor should new data be collected if existing assessments and information are adequate to measure the unit’s achievement of its goals or objectives.
  • The College and units should avoid creating additional organizational structures for the purposes of assessment only. To the extent possible, all assessment activities, including planning, implementation, and reporting should be infused and integrated into existing organizational structures.
Who: Assessment activities require professional judgment and contextual understanding.
  • Individuals within the unit itself who have adequate knowledge of the unit, its programs, and its functions are responsible for planning and implementation of the unit’s assessment activities. Responsibilities are assigned to specific people within the unit.
  • The unit may seek technical advice, support, and/or training, when necessary, from the support offices at the College or from outside sources. Stakeholders (faculty, staff, students, alumni, employees, community members, and others) are consulted and, when appropriate, involved directly in the assessment activities, within time and resource limitations.
  • All assessment activities are sensitive to the social and cultural environment of the College/unit and its stakeholders.
Why: The College and units never engage in assessment for assessment’s sake.
  • The purpose of assessment is always explicit and based on identified decision-making needs.
  • Assessment findings are used to support decision-making. Units formulate action plans in response to assessment findings and carefully monitor the effectiveness of any implemented changes.
 
Responsibility for the oversight of the assessment of institutional effectiveness is shared among the following offices:

Internal Info

The following sites related to the accreditation and assessment processes are for use by TC staff. Contact Sasha Gribovskaya to request access or if you have any questions about these sites.