Student Affairs Assessment Leaders (SAAL) is pleased to announce that registration for "Applying and Leading Assessment in Student Affairs,” an online open course available at no charge through Colorado State University in collaboration
with SAAL, will open on January 8, 2018.

This eight-week course starts on February 5, 2018. The curriculum is self-paced and aims to provide participants the opportunity to:

    • Review concepts that contribute to sound assessment practice and a sustainable culture of evidence,
    • Explore and engage in the development of foundational assessment components including planning, articulating goals and outcomes, and providing feedback,
    • Identify and practice strategies for guiding assessment efforts across multiple functional areas and building assessment capacity among teams, and
    • Discover ways to translate data to a story of student success and a plan for action.

The first assessment staff training of the semester began with the good, the bad, and the alternatives to surveys. The workshop, “Beyond Surveys”, was presented by Kaitlyn Schmitt and Emily Kane on Thursday, November 16. The workshop included an overview of the downfalls of surveys, alternative assessment methods, and a productive conversation about practical application.

Survey fatigue, surveying individuals to the point where they become uninterested in taking surveys, is one of the commonly encountered downfalls of using surveys. Surveys can also be time-intensive to build and lack explanations for the data gathered. However, surveys can be useful to measure quantitative data, understand surface level opinion, and sample a large number of participants.  

A solution to survey fatigue, along with the other downfalls of surveys, is to use an alternative assessment method. Some alternative assessment methods include found data, focus groups, benchmarking, rubrics, and observation. The workshop outlined when to use each method, as well as their downfalls.

At staff trainings, members of the Assessment Committee strive to help participants practically apply their newfound knowledge to their work. As such, this workshop ended with a productive conversation which led participants to formulate new ideas about how to efficiently utilize alternative assessment methods in current and upcoming projects.

If you would like to learn more about found data, visit to view the 2017 presentation, “Found Data”.

For a copy of the entire “Beyond Surveys” presentation, visit

Don’t miss our upcoming staff trainings!

  • “R Rubrics 4 U?” workshop presented by Robert Snyder on Wednesday, February 28, 2018, at 1pm.
  • Drop-in office hours on Wednesday, July 18, at 1-3pm. Office hours are open for anyone in the division to ask any assessment questions, including but not limited to Continuous Improvement Projects, learning oriented assessment, or an assessment project you would like to work on. Benefit from the collective brainpower of the Assessment Committee and join us for office hours. Sign up today or feel free to drop in!

The following is an overview of the Continuous Improvement Projects (CIP) that DSA departments have proposed to undertake. The Continuous Improvement Project is a rigorous, standards driven assessment model that analyzes at least one program or service in each department every year. Throughout the course of the Departmental Continuous Improvement Project process, updates will be provided as appropriate. Some projects will also be spotlighted in the Assessment Results Showcase as part of the DSA Forum on Monday, March 19, at 1-2:30pm.  

Center for Career Services

  • GW Students of Color: Engagement with the Center for Career Services: Develop and implement two focus groups for Black and Latino students to understand how they perceive and utilize career services.

Center for Student Engagement

  • An evaluation and development of a proposal for an updated student org advising structure: Update our advising structure for student organizations to provide a high level of service and support within a reasonable staffing and workload structure.
  • Greek Life Task Force Revisited: Gain feedback from constituents on the recommendations, the implementation, and whether any updates are necessary to the Greek Life Task Force.
  • CSE Staff meetings revamp project: Review each of our meetings: All staff members, SAT (advising) team, and senior leadership to determine their relevance, value, content, delivery method, timing, and frequency.
  • CSE and GW Housing Merger: Examine all of the ways that these two important organizations come together and how to best manage the integration of the different cultures, processes, systems, people, and passions present in GW Housing and CSE.

Colonial Health Center

  • Electronic Health Records System: Identify the needs of the Colonial Health Center related to selecting an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system. This includes evaluating the current vendors for EHR systems for college student health centers and selecting the appropriate vendor that meets our needs.

Office of Military and Veteran Student Services

  • Departmental Review/Action Plan: Examine the purpose and structure of the office, communications and social media, engagement and community building, and academic and financial policies and procedures.

Planning and Outreach

  • Evaluating and Enhancing the Continuous Improvement Project (CIP) model at the Conclusion of its First Year: Gain feedback on the new Continuous Improvement Project model in order to improve the process moving forward.

Student Rights and Responsibilities

  • Case Referrals: Process Improvement focusing on the referral process for drug and alcohol cases- includes Student Rights and Responsibilities, Health Promotion Education, and Student Support and Family Engagement.

Student Support and Family Engagement

  • Assessment of Academic Component of Colonial Inauguration: Analyze survey results, campus partner feedback, and best practices to determine the most effective way to engage students with the academic experience at CI.

Mark your calendars to join the DSA Assessment Committee for the following training activities throughout the 2017-18 academic year.

Beyond Surveys

Are you experiencing “survey fatigue”? Not seeing the assessment results you were hoping for? Got data and don’t know what to do with it? Wondering how other schools do something?

Join Emily Kane and Kaitlyn Schmitt from the DSA Assessment Committee for “Beyond Surveys”, a presentation on Thursday, November 16th at 10am in Marvin Center 506. Learn about the limitations and alternatives to surveys. By the end of the presentation, you’ll be able to identify the best assessment method for your purpose.


Join Us for Office Hours!

Got questions about dashboards, Continuous Improvement Projects, learning-oriented assessment, or another assessment topic? Benefit from the collective brainpower of the Division of Student Affairs Assessment Committee during Office Hours on Thursday, December 14th from 1-3pm in District House B115

Assessment Committee members will be ready and revved up to assist with your assessment projects. Sign up today or just drop by!

Office Hours will also be held Wednesday, July 11, 2018 from 1-3pm, location TBD.


R Rubrics 4 U?

Are you looking for a way to evaluate your work - including recruitment and selection processes and the learning student’s experience through your programs and services - in a standardized way?  Have you heard about rubrics, but have no idea what they are or where to start with building and incorporating them into your efforts?

Save-the-date to join Robert Snyder from the DSA Assessment Committee for “R Rubrics 4 U?", a workshop on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 1pm in a TBD location. Learn about rubrics, why to use them, and how they are already being used in student affairs and elsewhere.  By the end of the presentation, you’ll be able to determine if rubrics make sense for your work and the next steps with building them if they are.

We look forward to seeing you there!


DSA Staff Forum: Assessment Results Showcase

The annual showcase will highlight a number of assessment projects from DSA and across the university on Monday, March 19, 2018 from 1-2:30pm in Marvin Center 407.

Please contact any member of the Assessment Committee if you have questions or ideas or are looking for guidance on an assessment project: Rachel Brown (Career Services), Toby Davidow (Planning and Outreach), Jay Jones (Student Affairs), Emily Kane (Colonial Health Center), Kaitlyn Schmitt (Center for Student Engagement), Robert Snyder (Planning and Outreach), and Rebekah Swieringa (Planning and Outreach).


A Common Sense Assessment Resource

What is learning oriented assessment? Why should I use it? What are the most effective ways to use it? Linda Suskie, an expert in the assessment field, has a blog that answers these questions and more. One of Suskie’s recent blog posts, Assessing learning in co-curricular experiences, identifies tips for assessing student learning. The post details efficient and effective ways to assess co-curricular experiences.

Advice throughout her blog includes practical tips for assessing learning outcomes, what types of data to collect, when to assess, and much more. If you are looking for a great resource to better understand learning oriented assessment or assessment practices in general, visit the blog, A Common Sense Approach to Assessment & Accreditation.

By Kaitlyn Schmitt, Center for Student Engagement

In April 2017, 259 student leaders responded to the Student Organization Resources Evaluation survey. The Center for Student Engagement (CSE) used that data to make improvements to resources for student organizations, including online resources, advising, and the Excellence in Leadership Seminar (ELS).

More than 55% of students said they would like to see the OrgSync Guides re-organized, so the OrgSync Guides were re-organized and made searchable by keyword. Available under the “Files” tab in organizations' OrgSync portals or in the “Search for Anything” bar, these written guides on topics such as “OrgSync How To’s” and “Organization Finances” can assist student leaders with many common organization tasks, on-demand, when they want it, at their own pace.

Staff advisors continue to build relationships with student organizations. More than 55% of students preferred receiving support from their staff advisor. Seventy-three percent of students were satisfied with their advisor’s level of involvement in their organization, and 24% of student leaders would like more involvement from their advisor. Both student leaders and advisors were encouraged to discuss the advisor's level of involvement and how they can best meet student needs.

Forty-five percent of students were not familiar with the Student Organization Resource Desk for receiving walk-in advising, and 11% of students confused the Resource Desk with CSE Finance Office hours to complete financial transactions. Despite this, nearly 80% of respondents who did visit the Resource Desk in 2016-2017 resolved their issue on-site. Thus, the CSE is increasing marketing of these resources, including pointing out resources in advising meetings and asking advisors to promote their hours at the Resource Desk to their organizations.

Finally, several feedback-driven changes were made to ELS, a workshop series to provide student leadership development that also serves as student organization training. Last year, three out of four students reported being satisfied with ELS. Participation in ELS had a positive impact on student organizations, including providing student leaders with increased knowledge; greater self-awareness; more connections with students, faculty and staff; and more ideas for their organization.

New ELS topics were introduced to provide more options and address the variety of needs of student organizations that students detailed in the survey. New topics include GW Policies and Procedures, President’s Roundtable, and Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership.

Additionally, a significant minority of students indicated preference to attending student organization training in one day instead of throughout the year. To accommodate this preference, a block of ELS sessions will be offered on September 30. Dubbed “ELS Express”, attendance at these sessions will meet the training requirement for student organizations and help student leaders be prepared for the academic year.

Overall, the Student Organization Resources Evaluation provided valuable usage, satisfaction, and learning data for student organization resources, allowing the CSE to focus our improvement efforts in areas of need.

Check out the new “You've Been Engaged” blog for information on CSE assessment projects and results.


In November of 2016, the ACHA survey was dispersed to GWU students in order to gain an in-depth snapshot of the health status and wellness behaviors at our university. The goal of this survey was to provide a needs assessment of the GW student body to direct future programming needs and assess the success of current programs. The survey was sent out to 3153 randomly selected undergraduate and graduate students, and 629 (20%) responded. Of the respondents, 80.6% were undergraduates, 19.4% were graduate students, and the demographic split was similarly matched to that of the university.

The survey looked at a number of areas of wellness, including sexual health, physical health, mental health, and substance use. In comparing the impact of physical and mental health on academics, undergraduates indicated a significantly higher level of stress, sleep difficulties, anxiety and roommate difficulties than graduate students. Undergraduate students also noted that cold/flu/sore throat, as well as sinus/ear infections/bronchitis/sore throats are significantly more likely to impact academics than with graduate students.  Below is a chart comparing the impact of a number of areas of physical and mental health on academics in our undergraduates, as compared to the ACHA normative sample.

Other interesting areas of data show that GWU students use substances more frequently and in greater quantity than the national averages. Additionally, GWU students experience more negative outcomes when drinking. As is often seen with data, the perceptions of social norms within students surrounding drugs and alcohol are skewed, with GWU students often thinking that others use drugs or alcohol more than is reported. Additional data is available surrounding the sexual health and various areas of mental and physical health and can be obtained by contacting Emily Kane ( or Trisha Nash (

From June 21-23 , Toby Davidow (Planning and Outreach) attended the ACPA Assessment Institute in Costa Mesa, CA. The Assessment Institute was an opportunity to learn more about best assessment practices from leaders in the assessment field. Topics such as "Writing Success Criteria" to "Survey Design" were featured in the intensive, two and a half days. Toby had the opportunity to meet with some leaders individually to get feedback on some of GW's assessment practices. If you are interested in the schedule of events and/or session handouts, please contact Toby directly (

Assessment Workshop Recap: The Quest for Found Data

On Thursday, May 4th, DSA Assessment Committee members Dan Gardner, Athletics and Recreation, and Robert Snyder, Planning and Outreach, co-presented “The Quest for Found Data” The workshop covered found data and its importance as an assessment approach, sources of found data at GW, and techniques for using found data and applying it your efforts.

See the workshop slides for additional information.  The Assessment Committee is available for consultation on departmental assessment activities and welcomes feedback on topics for future workshops.

The DSA Assessment Committee sponsored a viewing of the Student Affairs Assessment Leaders (SAAL) Structured Conversations webinar on “Assessment and the First-Year Experience Course” on Tuesday, April 4th. Please find the link to the recording of the session here and the powerpoint from the session here.

Should you be interested in other Structured Conversations from SAAL, you can find all of their webinars and corresponding powerpoints here.


Are you looking to evaluate, develop, and/or enhance a program or service, but don't want to deal with the hassle of collecting new data to support your efforts?

Join DSA Assessment Committee members Dan Gardner and Robert Snyder for a workshop, "The Quest for Found Data" on Thursday, May 4, 2-3pm in Marvin Center, Room 301.  Through this interactive workshop you will have the opportunity to learn about:

  • Found data and its importance as an assessment approach
  • Sources of found data at GW
  • Techniques for using found data and applying it your efforts

You are encouraged to come with an example of a program or service on which you are working so the facilitators and fellow participants can help you approach it with found data in real time, although the workshop will include a few examples for those who simply want to learn about this technique.  All levels of assessment knowledge are welcome.

Register for "The Quest for Found Data" workshop today and encourage your colleagues to join you!