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!

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.


Please join the DSA Assessment Committee for an upcoming webinar on "Assessment and The First-Year Experience Course" presented by the Student Affairs Assessment Leaders (SAAL).  This session will be live-streamed on Tuesday, April 4th from 1-2pm in Colonial Health Center Conference Room #1.  Contact Toby Davidow at  or Robert Snyder at with any questions.

During this webinar, we will discuss the role of the first-year experience course and assessment approaches used to measure learning outcomes and support student success. We will review the history and purpose of the first-year experience course. Then, we will explore strategies to assess the course from both an academic and student services perspective.


As a result of participating in this webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the purpose and typical learning outcomes of the first-year experience course.
  • Determine direct and indirect assessment methods connected to the course learning outcomes.
  • Identify assessment strategies that can address the student services components of the course.
  • Discuss how assessment data can be used to make improvements to the first-year experience course.

*About Our Presenter *

Dr. Christine Harrington is the Executive Director of the Center for Student Success at the NJ Council of Community Colleges. She has taught psychology and student success courses for over 15 years at Middlesex County College in Edison NJ. She has also served as the Director of the Center for the Enrichment of Learning and Teaching (CELT) for five years and as the Assessment Coordinator for three years. She is the author of Student Success in College: Doing What Works! 2nd edition <>,
a research-based text for the first-year seminar course and the recipient of the 2016 Excellence in Teaching First-Year Seminars award. Her latest book, Dynamic Lecturing, published by Stylus, will be available in July 2017.

Thanks to all DSA staff and our partners across the university who participated in the Assessment Results Showcase on Monday, March 20th.  Please complete this survey to provide your feedback on the Showcase.  Include below is a brief summary of each of the presentations that were included in the Showcase, along with highlights of the discussion around each presentation.  The handouts for the presentations are available here.

DSA Dashboard Discussion – Planning and Outreach (Robert Snyder)

DSA implemented a dashboard assessment and reporting tool beginning in Spring 2014, with each DSA department creating and submitting a dashboard three times a year: fall (October), winter (February), and spring (May).  The dashboard provides a brief synopsis of departmental goals, progress towards goals using metrics/key performance indicators, and highlights/achievements in a consistent format.  This is an opportunity to learn more about the purpose and content of the dashboards, how DSA stakeholders use the dashboards, and how DSA staff can support the development of the dashboards for their departments.

Thoughts from the presentation: What you can do to get involved with Dashboards: 1) know they are available, 2) use them, 3) contribute information, including metrics and stories. GW’s dashboard provide a digestible synopsis of the department’s activities and reflects the division’s preference for a balance between qualitative and quantitative data.

Financial Literacy and Behaviors Among GW Students – Colonial Central & Survey, Research, & Analysis (Jennifer Joslin Vader and Kim Dam)

In the Fall of 2016, Colonial Central conducted a survey of GW students to better understand their financial behaviors and their level of financial literacy using a foundation of the National Financial Capability Survey released by FINRA Investor Education Foundation. Working with a Senior Research Associate from Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center in the School of Business, we developed a targeted survey for delivery to both undergraduate and graduate GW students.

Thoughts from the table: This survey provides an example of a national lack of financial literacy, not just among college students. The survey revealed that students, especially graduate students, are very concerned about debt and generally students overestimate their financial literacy. Consistent with national trends, females demonstrated less financial literacy than males. In response to this survey, a freshmen seminar was offered and virtual programming is being organized.

First-Year Connections Survey – Enrollment Management & Retention (Lindsay Peck)

The inaugural First-Year Connections Survey was administered to all first-year students in Spring 2016 as an opportunity to amplify student voices related to their experience at GW. Connections Survey data are being used to: a) determine interventions for students who report major concerns, b) discern patterns in student attitudes or behaviors based on academic performance, and c) assess the institution's fulfillment of the brand promise.

Thoughts from the table: Some initial interesting findings from this survey include that the survey suggests GW’s brand is communicated to students in the way it was originally thought and respondents do not dislike the advising process in contrast to what is often anecdotally heard.

Health and Wellness Needs Assessment of GW Students Using the ACHA NCHA Survey – Colonial Health Center (Alexis Janda Knott)

The Colonial Health Center conducted the American College Health Association’s national survey in November of 2016 among a representative random sample of 3,000 students with a 20% response rate. The ACHA survey assesses a breadth of topics including but not limited to: substance abuse, mental health, chronic and infectious disease prevalence, sexual and relationship health, and physical well-being.

Thoughts from the table: In general, GW’s students’ health is on par with the national population. One notable difference is that GW students report somewhat higher levels of stress. Among GW students there is a large gap between perceived and actual drug use. Many GW students report feeling overwhelmed and exhausted during the past two weeks.

Student Organization Training: A Benchmarking Assessment – Center for Student Engagement (Kaitlyn Schmitt)

In Spring 2016, the CSE undertook a benchmarking project to examine training practices of student organization leaders at peer institutions. Based on this data, the CSE learned new ideas for training methods, examined trends of challenges with student organization training, and identified best practices for student organization leader training.

Thoughts from the table: Based on benchmarking, GW has developed a mandatory in-person training system that is individualized through collaboration between student organizations and their advisor. There is a mandatory “soft skills training” through Excellence in Leadership Seminars, and student leaders have the opportunity to customize trainings based on the needs of their organizations. Student sentiments about mandatory training and attendance remain ongoing challenges. Incentives are provided through not being able to register without successful completion of the program. The CSE continues to think about how online or electronic resources and trainings may be used.  

Using Assessment to Advance GW’s Student Organizations – Center for Student Engagement (Anne Graham)

The presentation provided an overview of the comprehensive program review process undertaken by the Center for Student Engagement’s Student Involvement team in examination of GW’s student organization management and support. The presentation also addressed how the program review contributed to significant structural, personnel, goal, and operational changes with the area of student organization management and support.

Thoughts from the table: This table discussed the Student Involvement Program Review, alignment of research questions and industry standards (CAS), the justification of resources, and refocusing staff professional areas, advising, training, and expectations for students and staff.  

Using Rubrics to Document Learning Outcomes – Intramural Sports (Dan Gardner)

Intramural Sports uses self-evaluation rubrics, completed by referees, and officials evaluation rubrics, completed by supervisors observing the referees, to score referee performances across a variety of competencies. VALUE was used as a source of the rubrics.

Military and Veterans Student Services Census Assessment – Office of Military and Veteran Student Services (Kellis Robbins)

Assessment of census data for all military-affiliated students at GW. Presentation included demographics on this unique population as well as comparison to national averages, and how these demographics reflect on the overall GW commitment to this population.

All DSA staff now have access to the full version of SPSS 24 to support statistical analysis needs by following these steps:

  • Contact Toby Davidow at to request the authorized licensed product code to make it the full version

Should you require any assistance with installing SPSS, submit an IT Help Ticket or visit the Tech Commons in in the Lower Level of Gelman Library on weekdays from 9am-8pm.