Assessment and Accreditation Council

Council Purposehigher learning commission logo

Northwestern University has reconvened the assessment and accreditation council to advise on and facilitate matters related to 1) student learning assessment and 2) the University’s upcoming reaffirmation of accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission.

The Council has been charged by the Provost to look more comprehensively at assessment, in follow up to the University’s last accreditation visit. The Council has been working to facilitate a campus-wide effort focusing on the assessment of student learning outcomes. The Council’s efforts have focused on both undergraduate and graduate curricular and co-curricular assessment. As part of these efforts, the Council is developing a framework for the assessment of undergraduate education and has established an annual Learning, Teaching and Assessment Forum.

In addition, the Council is serving as an advising body as we prepare for the University’s upcoming re-accreditation review. Northwestern will undergo its decennial review for reaffirmation of accreditation in April 2015. For this re-accreditation cycle, Northwestern is serving as a pioneer institution in the Higher Learning Commission’s new Open Pathway for Reaffirmation of Accreditation process, which includes both improvement and assurance components. Over the past four years, the Council has contributed to the University’s efforts in developing and executing our improvement project, or Quality Initiative, focused on enhancing the assessment of student learning. The Council is also providing input on the development of accreditation materials and preparations for the site visit for the upcoming comprehensive evaluation. More information about Northwestern’s re-accreditation process can be found here.

Council Goals and Strategy for Assessment

The purpose of assessment is to support evidence-driven decision-making and measure knowledge, skills, or abilities against defined competencies or learning outcomes for the improvement of learning. At Northwestern, our strategy is to assess curricular and co-curricular activities in an integrated manner. Rather than a centrally controlled and monitored student assessment process, the Council is developing a faculty-driven framework to help guide student learning outcomes assessment efforts (curricular and co-curricular) that are currently underway across the University. The framework will not prescribe one assessment methodology for measuring student learning. Rather, the framework, which is being established by faculty and staff, is intended to provide support for units that are at various stages of assessment and utilize different approaches to assessment. The Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Framework will be accessible from this page (with NetID login) once it is complete.

The Council’s goals and strategy for assessment include:

  • Raising awareness and educate faculty and others of assessment processes and outcomes
  • Conducting a current inventory of assessment efforts that summarizes the assessment activities undertaken by the various academic and administrative units at the university
  • Developing a set of best practices for assessments based on the inventory results
  • Providing a forum for addressing assessment issues facing the University
  • In support of the measurement of student learning, establishing an assessment vocabulary, implementation processes, and methods for data generation and reporting
  • Providing a set of building blocks and best practices, with the appropriate stakeholders, that can be assembled, modified, or shaped to a particular unit’s integrated approach to learning, teaching, and assessment
  • Establishing a foundation of terms, processes, and procedures so that all stakeholders involved with the development or consumption of assessment results may operate from a common understanding
  • Developing an overarching strategy for developing and implementing the goals of the framework

Learning, Teaching and Assessment Forum

The Learning, Teaching and Assessment Forum on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 is an annual event sponsored by the Office of the Provost, in collaboration with the University Assessment Council. 

CALL FOR PROPOSALS 2014-2015:  Proposal submissions must be received by September 12, 2014.

This university-wide event is designed to:

  • Provide faculty, doctoral students, and administrators the opportunity to showcase their assessment initiatives at the class, department/program, school, and/or university levels.
  • Share and highlight teaching & assessment innovations, strategies, practices, and outcomes.
  • Demonstrate the University’s assessment framework in practice.
  • Promote dialogue about assessment, its purpose and value for improving learning & teaching.
  • Click to submit your proposal.

We will post information about the assessment forum at the beginning of academic year. You may access to 2013 presentations through “Critical Reflections on Learning” on the program's secure website (NetID required).

Council Members

  • Ron Braeutigam, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education
  • Susanna Calkins, Associate Director of Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching
  • Stephen Carr, Academic Associate Dean, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Dona Cordero, Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Director, Office of Change Management
  • Debbie Crimmins, Associate Director of Institutional Research, Office of Administration and Planning
  • Tracy Davis, Associate Dean, Academic, Graduate School Administration
  • Sally Ewing, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Programs, School of Communication
  • Mary Finn, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
  • Linda Garton, Assistant Dean for Admissions & Student Affairs, Bienen School of Music
  • Thomas Geraghty, Professor, Legal Clinic, School of Law
  • Desiree Hanford, Lecturer, Editorial, Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
  • Bill Hayward, Senior Director, Institutional Research, Office of Administration and Planning
  • Larry Hedges, Professor, Statistics, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
  • Jake Julia, Associate Provost of Academic Initiatives and Associate Vice President, Office of Change Management
  • Peter Kaye, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate and Credit Programs, School of Professional Studies
  • Liz Kinsley, Graduate Student, Rhetoric and Public Culture, School of Communication
  • Gregory Light, Director of Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching
  • Michele M McDonough, Lecturer, Molecular Biosciences, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
  • Lisa Metzger-Mugg, Manager, Institutional Analysis, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
  • Susan Olson, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, School of Education and Social Policy
  • Alison Lanser Phillips, Assistant Registrar, University Registrar
  • Jennifer Puchtel, Manager Accreditation Process, Office of the Provost
  • Anna Rennich, Undergraduate, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences; ASG Vice President for Academics
  • Marianne Ryan, Associate University Librarian, Library Administration
  • Babette Seligmann Sanders, Associate Professor, Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Robyn Schuster, Director, Dean's Office, Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
  • H. David Smith, Senior Lecturer, Psychology, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
  • Kathryn Symank, Chief Operations Officer, Qatar, NUQ
  • Patricia Telles-Irvin, Vice President for Student Affairs
  • David Uttal, Professor, Psychology, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences