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Noncognitive Construct Resource Database

The Noncognitive Construct Resource Database has been purposefully designed to provide student affairs professionals with an overview of different constructs that are frequently used for assessment practices.  Student affairs practitioners often seek to assess abstract concepts, such as growth, spirituality, or engagement, which can be difficult to operationalize.  Unfortunately, deciding on a working definition for a construct can be almost as difficult as measuring the construct itself!  As such, the following resources provide:

  • A condensed explanation of how to begin conducting assessment
  • A non-exhaustive database of constructs used in student affairs assessment that includes:
    • related terms that are periodically used to describe a given construct
    • a short introduction to each construct of interest
    • a description of when (or when not) to measure a construct
    • related evidence-based literature that can be used to aid programmatic decisions
    • examples of instruments or programs that have been used to assess a construct
    • links to other related constructs if the prior information doesn’t quite match a professional’s assessment goals
Before You Get Started

Student affairs professionals wanting to assess student learning and development outcomes should reference JMU’s Center for Assessment and Research Studies webpage and the JMU Assessment Cycle if they have not done so already.  The Assessment Cycle provides groundwork for navigating much of the information in this database.  In order to conduct assessment studies within the realm of student affairs, it is necessary to understand what needs to be assessed and why, create learning objectives that are mapped to outcomes, and utilize relevant instruments.  Furthermore, assessment practitioners should base their construct selection and data collection techniques on those originally determined motives.  For example, if a department’s assessment specialists wanted to assess health behaviors, they should determine what types of health behaviors they wish to measure, why they want to measure them, and how they believe they could best capture this information.  Student affairs professionals should not use this database to choose a construct, assess learning improvement, and then use the data/results to match a desired outcome after the fact. 

For help with developing assessment plans, improving knowledge of assessment practices, or understanding how to make evidence-based programmatic decisions, consider scheduling a consulting appointment with SASS.

Additional Resources

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