Why Do We Assess and Evaluate?

The Division of Student Affairs at Longwood University assesses student learning and evaluates programs for many reasons.
Student Affairs administrators employ assessment and evaluation to better understand the needs of a constantly changing student population. In addition, assessment and evaluation are used to foster student learning, such as identity and skill development.
Assessment and evaluation are also used to improve the quality and affordability of programs and services.
Furthermore, assessment helps Student Affairs administrators develop effective university policies and procedures, contribute to strategic planning, and demonstrate to external constituents their commitment to continually change to meet various student development needs and learning styles.
In short, we use assessment and evaluation to determine and reinforce what we do well and improve what we do not.

What is the Difference between Assessment and Evaluation?

Evaluation appraises the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organizations to improve their effectiveness.
Assessment is an on-going process aimed at improving student learning, programs, and services that involves a process of:

  • publicly sharing expectations
  • defining criteria and standards for quality
  • gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence about how well performance matches the criteria
  • using the results to documents, explain, and improve performance.

The Division of Student Affairs at Longwood University uses both evaluation and assessment to guide our work. Evaluation is to determine significance or worth or judge the effectiveness of educational programs. Assessment is to determine a rate or amount and is used as an activity to measure student learning and other human characteristics.


CAS Standards

A Matter of Strategic Planning
The Division of Student Affairs uses national standards for practice in Student Affairs created by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS). CAS collaborates with specific professional associations to create national best practice guidelines in each area. We use these best practices as one way to judge our work.

Participation Numbers

The Division of Student Affairs at Longwood University is committed to sustaining an environment that offers a comprehensive array of student learning opportunities. Student Affairs values tracking participation numbers at its programs because this information helps student affairs professionals and the students with whom they work with decide how to provide quality educational and entertainment programming that meets the needs of the Longwood student.

Customer Service

The Division of Student Affairs at Longwood University is committed to providing first rate customer service to its students. Student Affairs desires to assess and continually improve customer service because a student that has had an excellent experience with a particular department will be more willing to direct their peers to take advantage of the services of that department and will use the services again.

Training Evaluations

The Division of Student Affairs at Longwood University is committed to providing effective and professional training for our student and professional staff. By assessing current training practices, such as content, applicability, and ease of use, student affairs professionals can consistently improve the effectiveness student and professional staff training.

Program Evaluations

Service Evaluation: Spring 2001
All students using Disability Support Services, and a random selection of faculty using Disability Support Services on behalf of their students, were surveyed in regards to their satisfaction of service.

All responders rated services provided as satisfactory to excellent.

All responders rated services necessary and essential to student success.


The Division of Student Affairs is committed to evaluating the various services that we provide to our constituents as a measure of effectiveness. What our primary stakeholders, students, report has value in the evaluation of individual services and is a critical part of the feedback mechanism.

Content Area Specific Evaluations

The departments within the Division of Student Affairs use a variety of content area-specific assessment and evaluation tools such as surveys by Educational Benchmarking, Inc,, the National College Health Assessment, and others. These tools allow the department to compare their areas with national standards developed for their department's content area. The results of the assessment and evaluation will assist the department in program changes and/or improvements.

Learning Plans

A Formative Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes

"Sure, the students like your programs and services, but what evidence do you have that what you are doing is making a difference?"
~ Terenzini and Upcraft, p.217

This quote by P. T. Terenzini and M.L. Upcraft illustrates why Longwood's Division of Student Affairs uses learning as a critical feedback mechanism. Each department engages in a 7-step Learning Plan process to:

  • define our philosophy toward learning
  • incorporate Longwood's six student development goals
  • outline desired learning outcomes
  • design activities and interactions that encourage achievement of the learning outcomes
  • assess whether or not the learning occurred
  • examine the results
  • plan future actions based on the results.

Learning Plans and their outcomes also serve to provide evidence of what should be done to improve delivery and to modify planning.