Assessment Goals

The Outcomes Assessment Advisory Council (OAAC) encourages academic units to develop and implement program outcomes assessment with the following concepts in mind. These characteristics form the basis for providing feedback to academic units regarding assessment methods and uses of results.

  • Faculty identify the "hallmark" program-level outcomes for all academic programs that lead to a degree (both undergraduate and graduate).  Program outcomes assessment is the process of identifying measurable (quantitative) and/or ascertainable (qualitative) criteria that are representative of student learning within a program of study.  Outcomes assessment can be tests, assignments, or activities that have the students demonstrate mastery of those hallmark program-level outcomes.  Results (data) of outcomes assessment show faculty if students are learning what is intended for them to learn, as well as suggest what changes should be made to either what or how curricula are being taught.
  • Program Outcomes Assessment seeks to help faculty understand and improve student learning by asking key questions such as “What should graduates of this program know or be able to do?”, “Have the graduates of our program acquired this learning?”, and “How can student learning, or our curriculum, be improved?”  Assessment results are not used for any evaluations or annual appraisals of faculty or staff.  They are used only in the interest of "continuous improvement."
  • Program outcomes assessment should provide feedback to the academic unit and contribute to program development. Assessment should not simply be viewed as collecting data for program evaluation; it should be viewed as integral to ongoing professional self-reflection, development, and improvement of the program.
  • Program outcomes assessment should include a variety of measures that are suited to evaluate the unique learning objectives in the unit. The measures may be quantitative or qualitative.  Creativity of the faculty is encouraged for outcomes assessment.
  • Assessment should optimally include direct and indirect measures of student learning. Direct measures are first-hand artifacts that show student learning and include a capstone experience, senior project, portfolio assessment; standardized tests, certification and licensure exams, locally developed exams, exams blind scored by multiple scorers, juried review of student performances and projects, external evaluation of student performance in internships. For graduate programs, direct measures also include faculty review of theses and practicum. Indirect measures show opinions and thoughts about student learning and include data from student surveys, alumni surveys, exit interviews, focus groups and employer surveys.
  • The same assessment methods do not have to be used every year. Program outcomes assessment should be systematic and ongoing; the timetable for implementing assessment measures should be appropriate for the curriculum and resources of the program.
  • Each academic unit should periodically review and evaluate the assessment methods and determine how these methods contribute to program development. Assessment methods may change over time as different concerns emerge regarding the curriculum and/or student learning.
  • Assessment reports should be brief summaries of the assessment activities in an academic unit and are requested annually to comply with requirements of the HLC/NCA and OBR. These reports should delineate the program-level outcomes that were assessed, the results (data), observations of both full- and part-time faculty, and what changes will be made to either what or how the curricula are taught moving forward.  The reports should be shared with faculty in all academic units and reviewed by the dean of the appropriate school. The reports are used for continued accreditation with the HLC/NCA and a variety of programmatic accrediting agencies.