- What is it?
A process through which faculty determine what students
should know at the end of a course/program/major/minor, and then measure
whether or not students have gained the knowledge, skills and abilities
that faculty had identified."Rather than disconnected from content
and teaching, assessment becomes the means fof ascertaining what and
how well students achieve what faculty members intend them to achieve.
(Peggy Maki, 2002 AAHE Bulletin)
- Who specifies the student learning outcomes to be achieved?
The faculty in the discipline, always.
- Who determines what assessment tools will be used to assess whether
students have achieved the student learning outcomes created by the
The faculty, always. There are resource people on campus,
books, journals,and websites that can assist in this process.
- What types of learning outcomes assessment tools are there?
There are many designs and formats that can be used.
Some take the form of student portfolios, others use pre- and post-
tests. Some departments require a senior capstone course so that
students have a formal opportunity to integrate their learning and
design projects or papers to demonstrate mastery of the knowledge,
skills and abilities required of their major and program.Information
regarding how to choose and how to design assessment tools to meet
your discipline specific needs will be shared in department meeting
in the workshops sponsored by NEIU's Center for Teaching and Learning.
In addition, the CTL will provide information regarding how to design
and/or refine assessment plans to make use of these tools as well
as other data.
- Why is it important that we engage in Learning Outcomes Assessment
- Research shows that implementation of learning outcomes plans
improves student learning (See "Learning Outcomes Assessment
- The Illinois Board of Higher Education and out accrediting body,
the North Central Association, require that we show that we assess
student learning and modify our programs as needed to improve
Leaning Outcomes Assessment Benefits
- Learning Outcomes Assessment (LOA) provides the instructor with
valuable information needed to shape and refine instructional goals
and objectives; content, pedagogy and emphases to increase student
learning and achieve positive learning outcomes.
- LOA provides an opportunity for both instructors and students to
be more reflective about teaching and learning.
- LOA empowers instructor and students to contribute more fully to
teaching and learning processes, resulting in:
- deeper learning
- greater student retention
- enhanced faculty-student relationships, and
- generally more positive outcomes for faculty and the institution
Key Point: Learning Outcomes Assessment is integral to high quality
- Assessment drives student learning - our assessment tools tell
students what we consider important.
- Used in a systematic way as part of a "feedback mechanism
or loop," learning outcomes assessment data help faculty make
decisions about curricular modifications and instructional choices
to better achieve course and departmental objectives, and to improve
- We’re just getting started. What do we have to have in our
All assessment plans must address five areas. These are:
(a) Faculty involvement—this should describe how program
faculty are involved in defining expected learning outcomes and
the process used for getting faculty input into the departmental/program
(b) Program Goals—the plan should state what the program’s
goals are for student learning and how these are linked, as appropriate,
to the University’s mission, goals and priorities
(c) Learning Outcomes—these should follow from the program
goals. These are more narrow and specific statements about what
we expect that a student in this program will learn. Each learning
outcome is clearly specified and is measurable.
(d) Assessment—this section should describe the assessment
tools that are used to measure whether the program’s learning
goals and outcomes have been achieved. Program assessment should
include both direct and indirect measures.
(e)The “Feedback Loop”—this section describes
HOW the assessment results will be used. Specifically, it should
answer WHEN the results will be reviewed, by WHOM and for WHAT purposes.
If there are programmatic changes that have
been made as a result of assessment, this should be documented.
- Our department developed an assessment plan back in 2001, do we
need to develop another one from scratch?
The short answer is NO. Assessment is an ONGOING activity. Perhaps
you used an assessment tool last year that didn’t work well
for the department. So this year the department decides to try out
a new assessment tool or practice. Alternatively, the department
had great success in using the assessment tools and discovered that
they needed to create a new course to bridge a gap in learning that
was discovered. This needs to be documented.
If you have a good assessment plan that already encompasses the
key areas described above, then all that is needed are annual updates
that would describe any changes in the plan, assessment results
and actions taken as a result of the assessment results.
- I just heard each course has to address ALL program learning outcomes.
Is this true?
NO. However, each course should address at least one of
the program learning outcomes.
- What about direct and indirect measures of assessment? Must each
program learning outcome have both forms of assessment?
NO. Each learning outcome does not have to have both forms of
A department may choose to directly measure a specific learning
outcome say through a review of essays produced in a capstone
course. However, you do not need, necessarily, to conduct student
interviews just to say you have an indirect measure.
However, when a program describes the range of assessment tools
used to encompass all of its learning outcomes, there should be
a mix between direct and indirect measures. Please note: Indirect
measures by themselves are insufficient.