How to Approach Assessment

Assessment should be a continuous, reflective practice. Use the annual report as an opportunity to compare data to previous years, note any patterns, consider the impact and effectiveness of changes, and forecast how data can be used to inform future changes to instruction or program curricula. Review this slideshow (PDF) for a refresher on how to prepare for submitting your annual program report. 


Program Assessment Reporting Template

This template is designed to help you structure your Learning Outcomes Assessment report (due annually on October 1). The fields in this template are exactly as they appear in Xitracs. Completing this program assessment reporting template first will allow you to easily copy/paste and import the information. 


Program Assessment Workbook

Is your department designing a new degree program or certificate?  Or, do you need to make significant revisions to your existing student learning outcomes and assessment plan?  This self-guided Program Assessment Workbook walks you through a set of comprehensive steps for developing or revising your academic program assessment strategy.  


Curriculum Mapping

Curriculum mapping is a helpful exercise to visualize the interaction between various learning outcomes, clarify where learning outcomes are addressed throughout the program, and identify potential gaps in learning outcomes assessment. This Curriculum Mapping Overview can help you get started. Also, review this blog post by assessment expert Linda Suskie: Why are we doing curriculum maps?


Example Learning Outcomes Assessment Reports 

The following examples of best practice in assessment include a range of disciplines from across the campus (shared with permission). These reports showcase well crafted student learning outcomes, multiple measures to capture evidence of students' learning, and plans for improvement(s) or changes based on analysis of the assessment results.

Using Assessment Results for Program Improvement

The primary reason for assessment at the program or course level is to determine if students are learning the content and skills specified in the student learning outcomes. Ideally, assessment data should provide insight into changes and/or improvements that can strengthen students' learning in the program. Though this seems straightforward, the most common feedback offered on annual assessment reports relates to identifying targeted improvements based on assessment data. The following questions* can help guide faculty conversations regarding changes or improvements upon analysis of assessment data:

1. Review the Student Learning Outcomes.

  • Are the SLOs clear? If not, reword for clarity.
  • Do the SLOs align with the curriculum, instruction, and assessment? If not, consider changes to the component that needs adjustment for all components to be aligned.
  • Are these the correct SLOs? If not, amend SLOs to articulate the appropriate outcomes. 

2. Review the Curriculum.

  • Does the curriculum align with the SLOs? If not, consider changes in the curriculum. This could include changes in content, methods of teaching, or amount of time spent on various topics.
  • Does the curriculum lend itself to instruction with content and methods that are consistent with the assessment? If not, consider amending the curriculum (or instruction) to improve alignment. 

3. Review the Instruction.

  • Is the instruction aligned with the curriculum? If not, consider changes in instruction. 
  • Is the instruction aligned with the assessment? If not, consider  adjustments in instruction or assessments so that they are aligned.
  • If the class has multiple sections, is the instruction consistent across sections? If not, work with the multiple instructors or sections to ensure consistency in instruction. 
  • Are instructors, including teaching assistants, prepared and trained to deliver the course?

*Adapted from Miller & Brophy (2019) - Using Assessment Results for Program Improvement (PDF)

Assessing Student Learning in Nine Easy Steps

The following tutorial series was originally created by Dr. Michelle Saint-Germain, Professor of Public Policy and Administration and Director of Program Review and Assessment at California State University Long Beach.  Each video is approximately 4-5 minutes and contains excellent information on developing and assesing student learning outcomes (SLOs)!

   Topic / Video Tutorial  Description
 1   What Are Student   Learning Outcomes?  Where to begin?  The first step involves understanding what we mean by "student learning outcomes."
 2   Writing Student   Learning Outcomes  Writing student learning outcomes involves identifying what graduates should know and/or be able to do upon   completion of the program.
 3   Levels of Student   Learning  Student learning outcomes should be phrased to ask students to demonstrate their learning on different levels:   basic, intermediate, and advanced.
 4    Mapping Student   Learning Outcomes to   the Curriculum  Curriculum mapping is pinpointing where in the curriculum students have opportunities to master learning   outcomes. It also looks at how well the curriculum supports student learning on the SLOs.
 5   Choosing Assessment   Measures  Assessment of student learning refers to the process of finding out how well students did in regard to what they   are expected to know and be able to do (i.e., the student learning outcomes). An assessment tool or measure can   be any type of student work that demonstrates what students have learned.
 6   Matching Assessment   to Teaching and   Learning  In between SLOs and assessment measures are the teaching and learning experiences in individual courses and   the types of assignments students complete in those courses. 
 7   Collecting Assessment   Evidence  Once assessment measures are chosen for each of the SLOs, the next step is to collect samples of student work.   The two most common ways are embedded assessment measures or external assessment measures.


 8   Analyzing Evidence of   Student Learning  The next step is to evaluate the student work as evidence of learning on a particular SLO; specify the criteria that   are important in evaluating the work, and determine the standards or expectations for student learning.
 9   Using Evidence of   Student Learning for   Program Improvement   Often referred to as "closing the loop," the analysis should yield meaningful conversation about program   adjustments to improve student success.