What to Assess
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Given what has been said about what assessment is (and isn’t), programs, curricula, and courses have each been the focus of assessment.  What to assess depends on the focus of assessment.  Program assessment will necessarily include curricula assessment and course assessment, but it will likely necessitate assessment of other items.  Program assessment involves a self-evaluation of all program goals and learning objectives.  When conducting program assessment, what to assess depends on the nature of the program goals and learning objectives and their associated outcome measures.  The key question is:  “What must we measure to determine our program’s success in meeting its goals and learning objectives?”


You may also wish to consider the following:

Where are particular program goals and learning objectives addressed?

  • Courses or other places?
  • Not all learning outcomes are based in the classroom/at the course level.
  • Program goals and objectives extend beyond the specific goals we have in our classes.

What approaches are you going to use to assess program goals and learning outcomes?

  • In-class or out-of-class (or both)?
  • Are you using direct (e.g., exams) or indirect (e.g., student surveys) measures to assess learning outcomes?
  • Are you using qualitative and/or quantitative measures?

Who are you going to assess?

  • All students?
  • A particular student cohort?
  • A sample of students?

What is your schedule for assessing learning outcomes?

  • At the completion of each course?
  • At the completion of a required set of courses?
  • Upon graduation?

Assessment methods should reflect the type of learning to be measured (Click here for Bloom’s Taxonomy). The student learning outcomes must govern the choice of measures.  A combination of assessment approaches can be the most effective way to measure student learning.  Assessment tools should be chosen so that students are given multiple ways to demonstrate their learning.