National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment |

National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

Occasional Paper 34 - A Portrait of the Assessment Professional in the United States: Results from a National Survey



Nicholas, M. C. & Slotnick, R. C. (2018, April). A Portrait of the Assessment Professional in the United States: Results from a National Survey. (Occasional Paper 34). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).

Paper Abstract

While the systematic assessment of student learning has been undertaken since the 1980s, scant research is available that outlines a profile of assessment professionals or the roles and responsibilities these individuals perform in institutions of higher education. This study presents the results of the Assessment Professional Survey (n=305). By examining the demographics, range of roles and responsibilities, types of methodological skills and the service contribution of these professionals, this study provides the first national portrait of the assessment professional.

Findings are valuable for (a) the field of assessment, as it represents the first systematic attempt to create a profile of the assessment professional (b) institutions, as they work to provide authentic evidence of student learning, (c) assessment professionals, to understand how they fit within their own institutions and in relationship to other assessment professionals, and (d) new entrants to the assessment profession, to position themselves in the assessment job market.

Biography of the Authors

Mark C. Nicholas
is Executive Director for Institutional Assessment at Framingham State University, Massachusetts. He has been actively involved with assessment in various capacities since 2006. His research interests focus on critical thinking as a process and outcome in higher education. He has published on critical thinking and faculty development, accountability and assessment, research methodologies and academic program review. He is currently working on a grantfunded research project focused on assignment design and rubric creation with a goal of creating developmental pathways through the curriculum.

Ruth C. Slotnick is the Director of Assessment at Bridgewater State University, Massachusetts. She currently serves as the Program Chair for the Measurement and Assessment in Higher Education Special Interest Group (SIG 64) for the American Education Research Association. Ruth was an investigator on an American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Quality Collaborative (QC) grant, a three-year project supported by the Lumina Foundation to examine the alignment of student learning outcomes at two-and four-year institutions using the LEAP VALUE rubrics and the Degree Qualifications Profile. Ruth has published articles on rubric development and the role of the assessment practitioner.






For additional resources, please check:


Cooper, T., & Terrell, T. (2013, August). What are institutions spending on assessment? Is it worth the cost? 

Jankowski, N. A., & Slotnick, R. C. (2015). The five essential roles of assessment practitioners. Journal of Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness, 5(1), 78-100.

Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education (AALHE)

Ariovich, L., Bral, C., Gregg, P., Gulliford, M., & Morrow, J.A. (2018, May). The Assessment Profession in Higher Education: Addressing the Varied Professional Development Needs of Practitioners. Lexington, KY: Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education and Watermark.