Use Assessment to Measure Progress Toward Pluralism
As campuses increasingly prioritize interfaith cooperation in and out of the classroom, educators and other leaders are asking important questions about students’ progress toward those ends. Are students learning the knowledge and skills they need to positively engage modern religious diversity? To what degree are campus interfaith programs effective? Do students of diverse worldviews feel welcome, included, and supported on campus?
IFYC believes in the importance of asking and answering these questions. We help collegiate educators understand how to collect information to measure student learning, better understand success, and pinpoint opportunities to improve students’ experiences with religious diversity on campus. Our assessment resources can also help you translate assessment findings into action on campus.
Whether you are new to assessing interfaith initiatives or just need to access specific assessment tools, this site can assist. We offer a variety of free online assessment resources that help you understand the importance of doing interfaith assessment work and provide practical tools for assessing your program outcomes and campus climate.
Each category of resources below contains tools to help you identify useful assessment opportunities, execute an organized and efficient assessment process, and use your results to inform institutional and programmatic decisions.
Many educators are already promoting students’ learning and development and building inclusive campus communities. Interfaith assessment helps educators understand and improve this work.
Why assess interfaith cooperation on campus?
Often, educators want to understand their students and campus contexts to make informed decisions about areas of need, improvement opportunities, and resources in their areas. Other times, educators are required to report the effectiveness of their areas or understand the impact of changes in institutional policies or shifting demographics. Interfaith assessment helps educators collect information to learn about important questions they have about their students and campus contexts.
Use the Guiding Questions for Implementing Interfaith Assessment to learn about IFYC’s approach to assessment and the major considerations for campus educators who are doing interfaith assessment.
Now that you understand what interfaith assessment is and why it is important, you may want to access IFYC’s step-by-step tools that help you do effective interfaith assessment.
Assessing interfaith programs does not need to be difficult. IFYC’s assessment tools help make the process manageable and organized from the start. If you are new to assessment, the resources below provide step-by-step guidance and various tools to use in executing your assessment. Even if you are already assessing interfaith programs or your campus climate, use the resources below to expand your existing assessment toolkit.
Determine what to assess.
Plan your assessment.
Collect useful information.
Translate assessment into action on campus.
Make assessment a continuous practice.
How do you determine what to assess?
Assessing interfaith efforts on campus usually involves collecting information about two distinct, yet interrelated areas: (1) students’ learning and development as a result of engaging in interfaith experiences and (2) students’ perceptions of their campus climate for religious and secular diversity. Use the resources below to determine which of these you should assess and how to execute such an assessment.
Use the First Steps for Effective Interfaith Assessment to understand the different types of interfaith assessment you can do on your campus and how to get started.
How do you plan an interfaith assessment?
IFYC’s step-by-step planning guides streamline the process of identifying and executing an interfaith assessment project. Not only does this create an efficient process, but assessment planning starts with the use of your assessment findings—how you translate your findings into action—as the focus. Our guides present information and opportunities to connect insights with your campus to design useful assessment projects.
Useful resources for assessing students' learning and development:
- Use Planning for Interfaith Assessment: A Guide for Assessing Students’ Learning and Development to understand and plan each step of your assessment.
- Read Creating Interfaith Learning Outcomes for an overview of how to develop learning outcomes for interfaith programs.
- Access our Learning Outcomes Bank for a curated bank of interfaith learning outcomes from campuses across the country.
Do you have learning outcomes you want to share with others? We are always interested in adding learning outcomes to our bank. Contact IFYC about including your learning outcomes in this resource.
Useful resources for assessing your campus climate for religious diversity:
- Use the How to Assess the Campus Climate for Religious Diversity planning guide to understand important considerations in this type of assessment.
How do you collect useful information for your assessment?
Interfaith assessment allows educators to understand aspects of students’ learning and development and/or the campus climate for religious and secular diversity. A critical component of this involves collecting information that ultimately will answer important questions, communicate a compelling story, and provide evidence that informs programmatic and other decisions on campus. There are various ways to collect information, each with benefits and drawbacks. The resources below provide practical information to help you develop ways to collect information that are the most useful for your assessment.
Useful resources for developing surveys:
- Use Constructing Surveys for Interfaith Assessment to learn tips for developing survey instruments.
- Use the Survey Item Bank: How to Develop Useful Interfaith Surveys for examples of survey items that collect information about demographics, satisfaction, learning outcome achievement, and aspects of the campus climate.
Useful resources for conducting focus groups:
- Use the Conducting Focus Groups: A Beginner's Guide to learn tips for preparing and conducting focus groups.
Useful resources for using a rubric to assess students' work:
- Use the Pluralism and Worldview Engagement Rubric to measure student learning in the classroom or in programming.
- Use the Assessing Interfaith Development Using the Pluralism and Worldview Engagement Rubric: A Case Study to learn more about the development of the rubric and how it has been applied in interfaith assessment.
How can you translate assessment findings into action on campus?
A key part of interfaith assessment involves sharing assessment results and using these findings to implement informed change. The resource below helps you consider the various audiences that can benefit from your assessment findings and the types of decisions your findings can inform.
How can you make interfaith assessment a continuous practice on campus?
By creating ongoing cycles of assessment, educators can collect and analyze data systematically and use those insights to continuously improve interfaith efforts on campus. The resources below help you understand the importance of this and provide practical tools to help you regularly embed interfaith assessment into your work.
Access the Using the Assessment Cycle in Interfaith Programming for an overview of the systematic processes used to continuously assess interfaith programs.
While IFYC curates a variety of interfaith assessment resources, we also recommend that those interested in learning more about assessment access others’ work.
Assessment in student affairs
Measuring students' learning
Measuring the campus climate for religious and secular diversity
Assessment in Student Affairs
IFYC recommends these as basic assessment texts for those just starting to implement interfaith assessment:
- Henning, G., & Roberts, D. (2016). Student affairs assessment: Theory to practice. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
- Walwoord, B.E. (2010). Assessment clear and simple: A practical guide for institutions, departments, and general education (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
This article outlines IFYC's approach to assessing interfaith initiatives on campus as well as a brief history of assessment of religious and secular diversity in higher education:
- Snipes, J.T., & Correia-Harker B. (2017). Revisiting the assessment context: A call to interfaith assessment. Journal of College and Character, 18(2), 130-135.
Measuring the Campus Climate for Religious Diversity
IFYC recommends this text for those who are interested in understanding the various dimensions of students’ learning to assess:
- Fink, L.D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
This book explains a variety of classroom assessment techniques for faculty to use in assessing their students’ learning based on Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning:
- Barkley, E.F., & Major, C.H. (2016). Learning assessment techniques: A handbook for college faculty (1st ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Measuring the Campus Climate for Religious Diversity
Read about the Input-Environment-Output (I-E-O) model that explains the significance of students’ campus environments in their learning and development:
- Astin, A.W. (1991). Assessment for excellence: The philosophy and practice of assessment and evaluation in higher education. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education/Oryx Press Series on Higher Education.
Read about the campus climate theory on which the CRSCS, IDEALS, and VIEWS research projects are grounded:
- Milem, J.F., Chang, M.J., & Antonio, A.L. (2005). Making diversity work on campus: A research-based perspective. Washington, D.C.: Association of American Colleges and Universities.