Program-Level Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Tools
The material in this section has been adapted from the Handbook titled Course-based Review and Assessment: Methods for Understanding Student Learning, published by the Office of Academic Planning and Assessment at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. www.umass.edu/oapa/oapa/publications/. Martha L.A. Stassen, Kathryn Doherty and Myra Poe, authors. Used by permission. Edited and adapted by Linda Hansell, Community College of Philadelphia.
Programs should select and develop assessment methods that are appropriate to program goals, objectives and learning outcomes, i.e., methods that will provide the most useful and relevant information for the purposes that faculty in the department have identified.
The evidence you collect depends on the questions you want to answer.
In thinking about program assessment, these questions come to mind:
- When students graduate from this program, what do they know, or know how to do?
- What does the evidence show in relation to students’ obtaining the skills described in the program's student learning outcomes?
- Does the program do a good job at what it sets out to do?
- How can the program experience be improved?
- How does the program compare to others?
adapted from Volkwein, J., “Program evaluation and assessment: What’s the Question?” (1996).
Using these assessment questions to guide method selection can help define your data collection priorities.
Use multiple methods to assess each learning outcome.
Many outcomes will be difficult to assess using only one measure. The advantages to using more than one method include:
- multiple measures can assess different components of a complex task
- no need to try to design a complicated all-purpose method
- greater accuracy and authority achieved when several methods of assessment produce similar findings
Choose at least one direct and one indirect measure for each student learning outcome. Include qualitative as well as quantitative measures. All assessment measures do not have to involve quantitative measurement. A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods can offer the most effective way to assess goals and outcomes. Use an assessment method that matches your departmental culture.
- tests and exams
- formal presentations or recitals
- writing samples
- forced-choice surveys
- open-ended questions on surveys and interviews
- exit interviews
Choose assessment methods that allow you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the program.
Effective methods of assessment provide both positive and negative feedback. Finding out what is working well is only one goal of program assessment.