The Discipline Assessment Cycle (DAC) is the process whereby Austin Community College documents the extent to which students have attained the learning outcomes and objectives set before them. It pulls together information at the course- and program-level, with data regarding general education and, where relevant, the skills associated with the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS). The framework of the DAC is designed to promote meaningful assessment, while simultaneously providing a single repository for assessment information from across the institution.
The data gathered is then forwarded to other processes and bodies within the College where such information is needed, such as the institutional planning process, budget development, and committees and councils. It also serves to provide documentation to outside accrediting bodies, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools - Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) or discipline-specific accreditors, such as the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement.
The steps of the assessment cycle include:
• identifying Program-level Student Learning Outcomes (PSLOs), General Education Competencies, Snapshot data, and Course-level Student Learning Outcomes (CSLOs);
• measuring these outcomes;
• mapping these outcomes to the courses in which they are taught;
• analyzing the results of the measures;
• creating an action plan for improvement;
• implementing this action plan; and
• "closing the loop" by assessing and evaluating the results of the action plan.
Because of the complex organizational structure of ACC, the terms "department," "discipline," and "program" are often used interchangeably. For the sake of clarity, the following definitions are used:
• departments are administrative units that may include several disciplines (e.g., Behavioral and Social Sciences, Health Information Technology);
• disciplines are areas of study (e.g., Psychology, Health Information Technology); and
• programs are plans of coursework that lead to an Associate's degree, Certificate, or Field of Study (e.g., AA Psychology, AAS Health Information Technology, Certificate in Medical Coding, Criminal Justice Field of Study).
With regard to the assessment of student learning outcomes, results of the assessments will be examined in the aggregate form, so results from multiple sections will be combined.
These results will NOT be used in faculty evaluations.
The purpose of gathering this information is for institutional and departmental decision-making.
To assist in compiling and entering assessment information, some other resources are provided below.
• For a glossary of assessment terms as they are used here at ACC, please click here.
• For a guide to timelines for assessment, please download the DAC Annual Timeline.
• For a guide to completing and submitting the assessment information in TracDat, please download the DAC/TracDat Manual.
• For a template in which to write entries and responses before copying and pasting them into the TracDat system, please download The Assessment Worksheet.
For Core Curriculum/General Education courses, general education outcomes are assessed over a three-year period, with certain Component Areas assessing particular competencies in given years. The General Education Schedule provides this framework.