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The Mellon Project for the Assessment
of Liberal Arts

Assistant Dean of Faculty for Institutional Research
315-859-4084
315-859-4677 (fax)

Since 1999, with major funding support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Hamilton College has undertaken a series of research initiatives in the assessment of liberal arts education. This website is designed to present the results of that research to both the College community and to the general public.

Our research has been conducted by a part-time Director, Project Assistant, a number of faculty working groups, scores of student research assistants, and several outside consultants. Daniel F. Chambliss, the Eugene M. Tobin Distinguished Professor of Sociology, has headed up the Project since its inception. Some of the reports are topical, addressing specific issues in the student educational experience. Others are comprehensive, covering the range of what we learned about students' experience in college, given in chronological order from the first year through the senior year. Still others are policy reports consisting of recommendations for faculty and academic readers, based on our findings.
 
In 2001, as a central component of the Mellon Assessment Project, a panel of 100 students was randomly selected from the incoming Class of 2005. Student interviewers interviewed panel members, throughout their college careers and for two years afterwards, on subjects of dorm life, friends, relationships, advising, classes, majors, professors, activities, junior year abroad, sports, and a wide range of other topics. A total of 340 interviews have been collected, transcribed, and analyzed.

An important part of the Mellon Assessment Project ("MAP") has revolved around writing at Hamilton College. Over five years, more than 1,100 papers were collected from panel members and other samples of students. Outside evaluators were brought in to read the papers and rate them according to a rubric established by the Hamilton College Writing Center.

In the early years, faculty working groups were organized to work on a variety of topical research studies. The data collected from all this work is set forth in our on-campus reports.

Another success of the Project is the annual peer conference held every spring at Hamilton College. There have been seven conferences to-date. This is a weekend where invited guests from other small liberal arts colleges (Bryn Mawr, Carleton, Colby, Middlebury, Skidmore, Wellesley, Williams – to name a few) come together to hear about the Mellon Assessment Project and to share what assessment is taking place at their institutions.

Articles and publications have been produced from collected data. Most recently (September 2008), Dr. Chambliss did an interview with Justin Pope of The Associated Press, and "Over time, liberal arts grads show they can succeed in business" was published in many national and international publications. Other Hamilton College faculty have also published articles and given talks regarding research data.

Currently Dan Chambliss and Christopher Takacs, Hamilton College Class of 2005 graduate (and current graduate student at the University of Chicago) are collaborating to write a book to be published by the Harvard University Press, sharing some of the lessons learned from the MAP research.

Cupola