Assessment Drivers and Practices in Undergraduate Psychology Programs: A Survey of Associate and Baccalaureate Degree Programs

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Abstract

The Undergraduate Study in Psychology (USP) is a collaborative effort of the American Psychological Association (APA) Board of Educational Affairs, the Education Directorate, and the Center for Workforce Studies to collect information on undergraduate psychology programs, faculty, students, and curriculum. The overall goal of USP is to paint a portrait of undergraduate education in psychology over time by surveying various aspects of undergraduate education biennially. APA’s USP gathered data on the 2014 curricular offerings and assessment practices of associate (n = 110) and baccalaureate (n = 329) psychology programs across the nation. The USP included questions concerning learning goals, program reviews, and two clusters of questions from the National Institute on Learning Outcomes Assessment concerning assessment drivers and practices. Eighty-eight percent of associate programs and 94% of baccalaureate programs reported formal learning goals, and the vast majority of those programs incorporated into their learning goals portions of the APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major (2007). Most undergraduate psychology programs routinely performed program reviews; however, 40% of associate programs and 14% of baccalaureate programs did not do so. The most frequently used assessment methods were rubrics to evaluate student work, locally developed exams, locally developed student surveys, and assessment of final projects. Despite considerable heterogeneity in the results, institutional accreditation requirements, faculty/staff interest, program commitment, institutional commitment, and internal program review requirements were rated as the strongest drivers of assessment among psychology programs, a pattern generally consistent with drivers in other academic disciplines.

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