Academic Assessment Overview

Outcomes assessment, as part of institutional effectiveness, is a process that helps faculty and staff gauge academic program success by comparing student achievement results to expectations and continually making improvements based on evidence. With its focus on program and curricular improvement, outcomes assessment indicates the extent to which students demonstrate competence in their disciplines. Like teaching, the purpose of outcomes assessment is to ensure that students are learning what you intend for them to learn.

The traditional method of assessing student learning by focusing on input doesn’t reveal the competencies students have when they graduate. We need a way to describe what students are able to do as a result of their learning. We need a way to share evidence about the value they attain from the university. For academic units, value is defined by achieving outcomes, that is, the knowledge, skills, and abilities that you expect students to demonstrate.

What are some fundamental reasons to conduct outcomes assessment? - Outcomes assessment helps faculty and staff in understanding the context of student learning
- Outcomes assessment offers an ongoing process for collecting valid evidence about student learning
- Outcomes assessment provides usable information through analyzing the evidence, reflecting on their meaning and then sharing findings with constituents
- Outcomes assessment is a practical, efficient, grounded method for improving student learning
What are some benefits of outcomes assessment? - Enhancing student learning
- Evaluating effectiveness of curricula
- Improving the program and its standing
- Informing planning and decision making
- Supporting student recruitment
- Providing evidence of need when requesting resources
How does assessment planning work? Faculty, staff, and administrators can work together to develop and implement an assessment plan (PDF) that identifies and measures important outcomes/objectives and sources of data. The plan should be reviewed frequently and revised any time new learning or operational goals are identified. Generally, programs update assessment plans early each academic year and submit results, analyses, and action plans by the following fall.

The institutional effectiveness feedback loop shows the path toward improvement. Programs continually work through this iterative cycle to refine curricular and programmatic planning and delivery.

Institutional Effectiveness Feedback Loop

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