Discipline Assessment Cycle (DAC)

ACC documents the extent to which students have attained learning outcomes and objectives through the Discipline Assessment Cycle (DAC). The DAC combines 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 DAC framework is designed to promote meaningful assessment, while simultaneously providing a single repository for assessment information from across the institution.

The data gathered is forwarded to be incorporated with other planning processes, such as the institutional planning process, budget development, and committees and councils. It also provides documentation for outside accrediting bodies, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) or discipline-specific accreditors, such as the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement. 

Assessment cycle steps 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.

ACC often uses the terms “department,” “discipline,” and “program” interchangeably. For 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 associates degree, certificate, or Field of Study (e.g., AA Psychology, AAS Health Information Technology, Certificate in Medical Coding, Criminal Justice Field of Study).

Regarding 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. Assessment information is entered and stored in the TracDat (Nuventive.Improve) system. 

Assessment Resources

The following resources can be useful for compiling and entering assessment information.

• Assessment & Planning Glossary
• DAC Annual Timeline
• DAC/TracDat Manual (guide to completing and submitting assessment information in TracDat)
• DAC Assessment Worksheet (for writing entries and responses before copying and pasting them into the TracDat system)
DAC Peer Review Rubric (to view what faculty peer reviewers use to provide feedback on disciplines’ assessment processes)

General Education outcomes are assessed over a 3-year period for Core Curriculum/General Education courses, with certain Component Areas assessing particular competencies in given years. The General Education Assessment Schedule provides this framework.  The General Education Assessment Schedule for AY ’25 to AY ’27 is available here.

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