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Assessment, Research, and Evaluation


UC Merced students working in classroom lab

The Division of Student Affairs is committed to using assessment to better understand our students, meet them where they are, and better serve them with quality programs and services. Fifteen departments design and conduct annual assessment plans and provide annual assessment reports, and each participates in a rigorous program review process every seven years.

The Division of Student Affairs is moving steadily closer to a "culture of inquiry" where assessment is embedded in the work that we do to support student learning and provide quality student services.

What is Assessment?

The systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development.

Palomba, C.A., & Banta, T.W. (1999). Assessment essentials: Planning, implementing, and improving assessment in higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

A Team

The Assessment Team, otherwise known as The A Team, was launched in Fall 2011 and serves as a resource to Student Affairs staff. Comprised of members of the Division from various departments, the A Team works with the Coordinator of Assessment to review annual assessment plans and reports, providing feedback and encouragement to colleagues.

Members of the Assessment Team (A Team)

Program Review

The UC Merced Division of Student Affairs is guided by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), the Student Fee Advisory Committee (SFAC) and the Periodic Review Oversight Committee (PROC) a joint committee of the Senate and Administration, in our efforts to ensure that Student Affairs programs and services are ready and able to meet the needs of an ever-changing student body. As a Division committed to continuous programmatic improvement, Student Affairs must systematically assess, acknowledge, and appropriately respond to new challenges, identify potential opportunities, and routinely strive to enhance our programs and services.

The Assessment Cycle: Planning and Reporting

Student Affairs staff write annual Assessment Plans which begin with GOALS, that should be connected to our Divisional Mission and Vision.

The Assessment Plans are submitted to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs in the unit’s Annual Report each July, along with the assessment report which includes the findings and conclusions from last year’s assessments.

Ideally, staff are willing to “assess their assessment” with the Rating Scales provided to score their Assessment Plans and Assessment Reports. When A Team members review Assessment Plans and Reports, they use the Rating Scales to provide meaningful feedback to colleagues.



Capacity Building
  1. Summer Seminar Series
  2. Assessment Conferences and Courses
  3. Resources
Divisional-Sponsored Surveys

There are several institutional surveys that Student Affairs staff use most frequently to glean data about our students and their experiences. All of the survey instruments and results are found on the IRDS website.

  • New Student Survey
    • Asks incoming first year and incoming transfer students about their initial experiences (October, annually)
  • Resident Student Survey
    • Administered in February to every student living in campus-run housing, this collects the experiences of on-campus housing and dining.
  • University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES)
    • Administered bi-annually in the spring of even years, this survey is conducted by the University of California and gathers a wide variety of data about student experiences and impressions of campus.
  • National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)
    • Administered bi-annually in the spring of odd years, this national survey provides comparison data with peer institutions about the engagement inside and outside the classroom.
  • Graduate Student Survey
    • Administered each summer to current graduate students enrolled in masters or doctoral programs. 
  • Graduating Senior Survey
    • Administered to every student who files for candidacy to graduate in April, and provides an “exit interview” for the major/minor programs, the Schools and the campus experiences.
  • Undergraduate Alumni Journey Survey
    • Administered to UC Merced graduates who are 1, 3, and 5 years post-graduation.
Institutional Assessment

Student Affairs works in collaboration with other campus assessment entities. Our Division is represented on the Campus Assessment Working Group which serves to inform and coordinate assessment efforts across Divisions and Schools. The Campus Assessment Working Group maintains the Campus Survey Calendar to help ensure that institutional surveys do not overlap, in an effort to reduce survey fatigue on campus.

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