The Documents You Need to Support Assessment Continuity and Vision

The Documents You Need to Support Assessment Continuity and Vision

In a previous blog post, I recommended assessment professionals develop four documents that can help to guide their work. The guidance was meant to focus our efforts, especially as we get pulled in a million directions. More to the point, these documents also offer a consistent source of reflection for professionals at the end of the year and a springboard for using data in practice. As the field of student affairs assessment continues to evolve, these four documents can help provide continuity and vision for assessment professionals and an entire division. 

The first post recommended developing a trend paper and prioritization strategy. Take a look back at the blog for more information about these first two documents. The next two documents include a timeline and maturity outline.


One of the greatest challenges facing Student Affairs assessment offices is adapting timelines to meet the various needs of other functional units. Many divisions are made up of twenty or more functional units that may have different ‘busy times.’ Creating clear timelines will help to hold everyone accountable. Additionally, knowing the timeline helps to anchor the work and make it more manageable and deliberate. In many cases, the assessment timeline is a source of truth for following the assessment cycle as it can illustrate when different stages should begin and end. Review below for an example of how a timeline can be overlaid on an assessment cycle.

In addition to developing this timeline, communicating the timeline to stakeholders is imperative.  

Growth and Maturity Development Outline

Individual assessment offices often provide critical training opportunities for professionals on campus. Assessment specific skill development and growth is critical in every role on campus. All professionals need the following skills to perform well in their role: critical thinking, active listening, and using data to make decisions. The assessment team on your campus should spend time evaluating the current state of assessment skills in the division. This is especially beneficial as there has been an immense amount of turnover at most institutions. I suggest using a rubric to gather and assess skill levels. Rubrics including those from AAC&U and the NASPA/ACPA professional competencies are great options. After identifying the current level, the team should identify areas for growth and gaps that currently exist. To operationalize this analysis, the assessment team should develop appropriate training and workshops that cover these areas and engage staff in meaningful opportunities.

Additional resources for maturity models:

Maturity models are more common in technology related fields. However, their application to the field of education will help to provide vision and document progress. Given their relatively new use, please reach out to me if you want to see an example and discuss the application to your work. 

Next Steps

Taken together, these four documents can help pave the way for the success of any student affairs assessment office. Specifically, when undertaken with sincerity, these documents bring foresight to the needs of a division and strategic planning. Completing these items may be most effective during the summer, but no matter when they are created, they will provide value to an individual unit and/or division. 

Additional information about any document or technique can be provided by the author. Please contact Kim Kruchen at The SAAL repository also has a number of great resources that can assist with this type of planning.

Kimberly Kruchen
Associate Director
University of Colorado at Boulder

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