Starting A Doctoral Program
in Assessment and Measurement
To assist other universities interested in starting a
doctoral program in assessment and measurement, we have
compiled a list that we hope will guide others in their
endeavors. We begin this document with a brief description
of the characteristics of the institution offering this
program. We then move on to some recommendations in the
areas of faculty-student involvement and leadership, academic
requirements, graduate student opportunities, and issues
Putting Things in Context
What are some general suggestions for institutions offering
the doctoral program?
- Offer advanced assessment techniques (i.e., IRT, generalizability
theory, computer-based testing) practiced in a broad range
of areas such as student affairs, student development,
general education, and academic departments.
- Offer opportunities for applied experiences that are
closely aligned with institutional assessment efforts.
- Develop strong relationships with local businesses,
hospitals, and social science organizations to
practicum experiences in different accountability
contexts (e.g., healthcare, business, non-profit).
- Develop contacts with other university faculty
and staff who are interested in applied assessment.
What are some recommendations for faculty and doctoral
- Participate in frequent conversations with institutions
offering similar programs in measurement and higher education
policy. Many new lessons are learned each year when starting
a doctoral program. Time and effort can be saved if this
information is shared.
- Develop a clearly stated mission, focus, and learning
objectives. Faculty and staff should have a shared
vision for where
the program is headed and assumptions concerning
what will be learned should be clarified through
objectives for each class.
- Encourage an apprenticeship model of training. Faculty
members should be willing to work with doctoral
students and share their area of expertise within
the classroom setting. Be willing to include students
work, research, and consulting relationships when
at all possible.
- Expose students to off campus consulting experiences,
as an effective model of a consulting relationship.
- Maintain forward thinking in technological applications.
Many new technological applications can be
applied to assessment and measurement. For example,
out information on the
newest software for processes such as qualitative
data collection, online surveys, and online
- Engage students in thinking about the research
agenda for the assessment and measurement
field. This is
a young field
without a well-defined research agenda. Faculty
should assist students in evaluating the
trends and challenge them to consider new
directions for research.
- Model the role of effective researchers.
For example, faculty should talk about
research issues and discuss
journals with students.
- Expose students to local and national professional
organizations (e.g., National Council
on Measurement in Education, American
Association of Higher Education, American
Psychological Association, National Alliance
- Begin planning early for establishing
internship sites. Often the potential
several months to obtain
approval and funding for the internship
- Consider the quality of experience
and supervision that different internship
sites can provide.
- Develop specific policies and procedures
regarding all aspects of the doctoral
progress, evaluation procedures,
dismissals). Do not be afraid to
for the worst-case scenario.
Revisit your policies and procedures
to discuss what is working and
what could use revision.
with other similar programs could
- Establish evaluative procedures
for professional development.
- Publish a student handbook explicitly
stating the policies, procedures,
processes of the program. Annually
revise and clarify procedures
and expectations outlined in
- Document decisions and their
rationale as policies and
the policies and procedures
are revisited or as program
may be helpful.
- Develop policies for graduate
students working with assessment
protect student confidentiality.
is helpful to have the
with a faculty member before
any assessment information
to an outside
- Develop explicit policies
of reports authored
- Have a specific recruitment
plan. Determine what
type of students
you are targeting
they are located.
If you are only accepting
students with specific
institutions in your
area offer these degrees.
- Emphasize and evaluate
groups, and a variety of audiences.
What are the academic requirements of the institution
offering this doctoral program?
- Interpersonal communication in course work and applied
experiences; evaluate out-of-class interactions every semester.
- Course work in classical test theory.
- Course work involving modern measurement techniques
including item response theory, generalizability
theory, and structural
- Course work in test development.
- Course work that involves understanding how students
learn including cognitive development.
- Exposure to various theories of college impact
including psychosocial and other student
- Knowledge of the assessment practitioner's
role in consultation.
- Relationships with other departments to
find common interests.
- Research agendas for the assessment and
- Application of assessment data to course
- Development and utilization of computer
- Public policy issues of accountability
including the origin and nature
of mandates and state
What opportunities are available for graduate students?
- Supervised learning using the scholar-practitioner model.
- In-depth and applied experiences working with faculty
across the campus.
- Participation in local and national workshops and
- Interactions with other graduate students on
- Independent and collaborative research with
- Training in advanced measurement and statistics
software (i.e. item response theory, generalizability
structural equation modeling software).
- Development of a professional portfolio of
accomplishments, processes, and products.
- Provisions made for student led workshops
in item writing, standard setting, and
student development assessment.
- Meetings with assessment liaisons for
- Involvement in the administration of
an annual Alumni Survey.
- Sharing of information concerning
the strategies of assessment implementation.
Educate students about the history of the
university's assessment plan.
university departments with developing the assessment
portion of their annual reports.
- Discuss state assessment and accreditation requirements
and discussion of the university-wide impact.
- Expose students to meetings with stakeholders such
as parents and government officials.
What are funding considerations?
- Allot money for students' participation in and travel
to local and national professional conferences.
- Determine availability of graduate assistantships.
Availability of graduate assistantship often is the
for a student to select a graduate program.
- Plan for graduate student office space, computers,
- Allot time/money for program faculty member to
supervise the student internship process. Student
onsite and at external sites takes a great deal
of faculty time,
energy, and funding.
Supported in Part with a Grant from the Fund for the Improvement
of Postsecondary Education