Martha L.A. Stassen, Ph.D.

Associate Provost for Assessment and Educational Effectiveness

Dr. Stassen has been at UMass Amherst since 1994 where she supports individual faculty members and departments in their efforts to implement course-based, department-based, and General Education assessment. She also works collaboratively with faculty and administrators on a number of campus-wide assessment efforts, including coordinating UMass Amherst’s participation in the American Association for Colleges and Universities’ (AAC&U) VALUE Institute. A central tenet of these efforts is ensuring that they are responsive to (and actually inform) the teaching and learning priorities of instructors and the campus and help guide institutional efforts to improve student learning and success.

Her support for educational innovations includes working with the Provost’s Office to implement a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded multi-institutional pilot project (“A New Approach to the Evaluation of Teaching”) to augment the information provided by the campus’s Student Response to Instruction (SRTI) instrument, which the Office of Academic Planning and Assessment (OAPA) directs. She was the Principle Investigator of a $275,000 Davis Educational Foundation grant to implement the University’s upper-division Integrative Experience (IE) General Education requirement. She provides assessment and evaluation consultation and direction on a number of other externally funded instructional improvement initiatives, including Mount Holyoke College’s National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Connections grant, “Historical Imagination in the Liberal Arts,” and a multi-institutional team on a Ford and William T. Grant-funded study of the impact of an Intergroup Dialogue curriculum on student learning and development. She has also collaborated with colleagues in Student Affairs on assessment projects focused on first-year students’ transitions to college and residential living-learning.

Her most recent publications include co-authored articles on “Context Matters: Using Qualitative Inquiry to Inform Departmental Effectiveness and Student Success,” which describes OAPA’s use of qualitative evidence to inform institutional effectiveness; “Intersections of Writing, Reflection, and Integration” drawing from research conducted on the campus’ Integrative Experience; and an article in AAC&U’s Peer Review “Making the VALUE Initiative Work for Us” based on her campus’s participation in a national student learning assessment project. Other articles include “Defining Critical Thinking in Higher Education,” a study of various definitions of “Critical Thinking” and standardized testing, and a chapter focused on student engagement in intergroup dialogue courses. She is also the lead author of two assessment handbooks used by a variety of higher education institutions across the United States.

Stassen serves as a New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) comprehensive review peer evaluator, a reviewer for the Excellence in Assessment Designation (EIA), and an Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness (JAIE). She is Past-President and former Board Member of the New England Educational Assessment Network (NEEAN), and has taught and advised graduate students in UMass Amherst’s Higher Education Program. She also works with a range of colleges and universities, providing consultation and workshops focused on supporting their assessment and student learning initiatives. She holds a B.A. in English (Music Minor) from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

She can be contacted at or 413-545-5146.

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