The Council 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.
- Program Outcomes Assessment is based on a process in which faculty have identified the desired student outcomes that are consistent with the objectives of the academic unit. Assessment focuses on evaluating student achievement of these expected learning outcomes. Assessment results must not be used for any evaluations or annual appraisals of faculty or staff.
- 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?”
- 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 self-evaluation, 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.
- Assessment should optimally include direct and indirect measures of student learning. Direct measures 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 include data from student surveys, alumni surveys, exit interviews, retention and transfer rates, length of time to degree, graduation rates, job placement, and program acceptance.
- 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 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. 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.