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Introduction

 

Outcomes assessment is not a destination, but rather a journey with quality improvements as its driver.

Dr. Karen Shumway

 

The intent of outcomes assessment (or assurance of learning) is to evaluate and improve how well the learning goals of a program are achieved.  Critical discussion points surrounding outcomes assessment center around whether students achieve learning that is relevant to their chosen program (degree and major) and whether their knowledge and skills are appropriate to the level of degree earned.  The purpose of learning goals are to communicate with students, faculty and stakeholders regarding priorities and expectations and to assist students in choosing programs that meet their personal educational needs.  It is impossible to construct learning goals that exhaustively cover all aspects of a program, so emphasis should be placed on encompassing the most important targets or indicators of educational progress.  Learning goals vary from program to program and institution to institution based on characteristics such as mission, student population, targeted employment opportunities and discipline-based requirements.

While outcomes assessment is critical to accreditation, it is best accomplished and most effective when it becomes a part of the culture and daily operations of the academic unit.  Done well, an outcomes assessment program may utilize measures of learning already in place by simply aggregating results across students and faculty members, analyzing trends and making needed course or curriculum improvements. 

Stage Descriptions and Steps

Each program or major at ASU will work through six stages to develop a sustainable assesment process. In each stage, descriptions, examples and assignments will be provided. The stages are:

  • Stage 1: Develop and Articulate Learning Goals. This stage will explain the purpose of learning goals.
  • Stage 2: Develop an Assessment Plan. This stage will help you determine where the learning goals will be assessed.
  • Stage 3: Develop an Assessment Activity. This stage will assist you in determining how the learning goals will be assessed.
  • Stage 4: Develop an Assessment Rubrics. This stage will help you develop assessment measures.
  • Stage 5: Collect and Analyze Data. This stage will guide you on how to build an assessment database.
  • Stage 6: Compile Useful Records of Results and Improvements. This stage will explain how results must be used to to improve student learning.

© Dr. Karen Shumway