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College of Arts and Sciences

USD Internal Assessment Grants

In a continuing effort to recognize the work of assessment as critically important, this program is co-sponsored jointly by the CAS-Dean’s office and the Provost’s office as way of providing support to faculty.  Now that we have several years of assessment under our belts, we are seeing an important shift in the way several programs understand and are beginning to use the process. In our initial efforts, many of us assumed that the goal was “accountability” but in the last round of reports, it is clear that some programs have taken assessment to the next level. They have used their assessment committees to pose researchable questions about some aspect of student learning, and have consequently changed their plans and approaches to reflect this shift.  We believe that the grants from this program can reinforce the approach to assessment as curricular research within your own departmental plan.   It can also provide unique opportunities to expand your own research agendas to include the scholarship of teaching and learning as rapidly growing areas of research across disciplines in higher education.  Key assessment research projects will answer critical questions you raise about your curriculum.  Here are some possible examples:

  • Development of a specific rubric for departmental outcomes; for example, creating a holistic rubric that combines reading comprehension, critical analysis, and writing.
  • Creation of levels of learning for a program-level rubric that will help the department to distinguish learning at lower-division and upper-division levels.
  • Development of outcomes and curricular map of courses for a new major or minor (with program-level support).
  • Comparison of outcome analysis with students’ perceptions of outcome achievement from a departmental senior survey.
  • Comparison of systematic differences in effects using various pedagogical approaches.
  • Comparison of objective measure (test) of a competency triangulated with departmental assessment of same competency (e.g., critical thinking test scores with rubric-evaluated essays employing critical thinking).
  • Investigating the cost-benefit trade of administering the Major Field Test or similar discipline-based objective examination.
  • Pilot of a portfolio project.
  • Pilot of an assessment project for adjuncts teaching a basic course.

In future terms, we will post synopses of the funded projects for your review.


The call for the second Assessment Grant Proposals is now open:

The grant funding is for a limited number of programs during the spring and summer, 2014: 

Purpose: The purpose of these grants is to support faculty work in assessment of student learning outcomes within academic programs.

Award: A total of 8 grants at $500.00 maximum for each grant will be awarded.

Use of Funds:  Funds must be used toward researchable questions regarding assessment of student learning within an academic program.  Examples of likely candidates appear above.  Funding is granted when assessment project summaries of results have been submitted.

Eligibility: Stipends will be awarded only to continuing full-time tenured/tenure-track faculty. Priority will be given to first time applicants.

Exclusions: Funds may not be used for assessment work that is being funded by other sources. Awards cannot be used to fund travel to conferences for presentations about the assessment projects. However, travel awards for presentations such as these projects ARE available through the Center for Educational Excellence.

Grant Applications: All applications should include the following:

  1. Academic Department and Program.
  2. Name(s) of faculty member(s) responsible for the proposed assessment work.
  3. Description of project, including action steps, timeline for completion, and an explanation of why this work must be completed in the summer months.
  4. Statement of how the proposed assessment work fits into the program’s overall assessment plan.
  5. Budget for project presented as a list of planned expenditures, including any stipends.
  6. How success of the proposed project will be determined.
  7. Statement of support from the department chair that indicates how the proposed project fits into the ongoing assessment work of the department.

Review Procedures: Submit applications via email to Carole Huston, CAS-Associate Dean of Assessment and Program Review, at The Assessment A-Team will review all applications.

Application Deadlines: Applications will be accepted on a continuing basis until March 1, 2014, or until funds are expended. All grants will be awarded by April 1st, 2014, and funds will be disbursed at the conclusion of the project when the grant summary is received..

Grant Summary: Faculty awarded a grant will submit a grant summary by September 30, 2014 to the CAS dean's office, attn: Carole Huston.  The grant summary must include:

  • A summary of completed activities.
  • A reflection on the success of the project.
  • The next steps to be taken in the assessment plan for the program.

Disbursement of Grant Funds: Funds awarded for the purchase of goods and materials will be disbursed upon submission of receipts, or the goods and materials will be purchased for you upon request. Stipends will be disbursed upon submission of the grant summary.

If you should have questions about the program, or need assistance in completing your grant application, please contact Carole Huston at, ext.4545.