Book By: Randy L. Swing
Review By: Karen Thurmond
Center for Academic Transition
University of Memphis

With today’s focus on assessment within academic advising, one may wonder the best way to start the assessment process.  Is there one clear and engaging resource that provides practical tips that can help us begin the assessment of our first year programs?  The National Resource Center for the First Year of College and Students in Transition, in collaboration with the Policy Center on the First Year of College, has provided such a resource.  

Proving and Improving II: Tools and Techniques for Assessing the First College Year, like its predecessor Proving and Improving: Strategies for Assessing the First Year of College contains invited essays first published on the First Year Assessment electronic mailing list (FYA-L) a highly successful list that continues as a joint venture of the Policy Center and the National Resource Center. Volume II steps beyond the electronic list to incorporate a number of new contributions including an appendix of assessment instruments. 

This six-part monograph sorts out various aspects for assessing the first year as ti leads the reader through specific assessment approaches, individual methods and instruments, to programs that demonstrate each method.  Randy Swing’s ‘Introduction to First Year Assessment’ starts even a newcomer off on the right foot. Mary Stuart Hunter prefaces this volume by stating that Swing helps to “demystifies assessment for even the most apprehensive practitioners” (pp. vii-viii). She is correct as, by itself, Swing’s introduction may be worth the cost of Volume II. The balance of the monograph builds on Swing’s ’assessment basics’ toward a gem of an appendix that sorts over 50 assessment instruments by type, alphabetically, and finally references the source, cost, and location of the instrument. 

Assessment is not easy, but Volume II will prepare even the most novice for the work of ’proving’ and ’improving’ a first year program.


First-Year Assessment (FYA) Electronic mailing list. Site information retrieved from http://www.brevard.edu/fyc/listserv/index.htm.   

Proving And Improving Volume II:  Tools and Techniques for Assessing the First College Year. (2004). Book by Swing, Randy L. (Eds). Review by Karen Thurmond. Columbia, SC: National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience & Students in Transition. , 207 pp. ISBN #1-889271-44-6.

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