The purpose of outcomes assessment

Assessment Flow Chart

The purpose of outcomes assessment is to discover whether our students learned what we wanted them to learn as a result of our teaching.

Here's how to do it:

1. Create opportunities for students to provide us information on whether and how they have learned what we want them to learn. These are assessments.

2. Collect the information. This is assessment data.

3. Look at the information to see whether students have learned what we want them to learn.

4. Analyze the information to draw informed conclusions about 

4. Finally, when the information shows us that are students are not learning what we want them to learn we must use the information to enact changes in our courses or programs that we believe, based on the information itself, our teaching experience, and our subject-matter expertise--will help students learn what we want them to learn.

Identify Outcomes

An outcomes is what a student will know or be able to do as a result of the course, program, major, or service that you are offering.

Create Opportunities for students to show what they have learned

Once you have identified what you want your students to be able to know or do, create assessment activities that will allow the students to show you what they know or what they can do as a result of the course, program, etc.
The number and type of assessment activity will depend on the outcomes. More here.

Create a curriculum or service plan

After you have created the assessment, create the assignments (for courses) or service plan (for College offices) that will teach the student how to do what you want them to be able to do, or know what you want them to know.

A curriculum is aligned with its assessment when the assessment is an accurate test of whether the student has learned what you want them to learn as a result of your course or service. 

Collect Data

There are two kinds of evidence or data used in assessment: direct and indirect.

Direct Methods are the embedded questions on exams, quizzes or assignments; research projects; oral exams or presentations; grades based on an internship or field experience. These assignments should  be built into the curriculum and count towards a grade. 

Indirect Methods can be used in addition to direct methods. They do not offer sufficient data on their own. Indirect methods include the course grade (as opposed to a grade on a specific assignment), attendance, and students' self-reflection.

Analyze Data

Did the students show you they know what you want them to know, and can do what you want them to do

What interesting or unexpected results did you collect? What does this tell you about students?

Share Results

Share the results and discuss their meaning with faculty and other program stakeholders. Use them to make decisions about ways in which the program or course may change, remain the same, reach out to other students, etc. 

Identify and Implement Changes

1. Start with negative or disappointing assessment results. Use the assessment data to draw conclusions about why students did not perform as well as you expected. Some common questions:
       1. Did the teaching method match the assessment method?
       2. Was their unfamiliar vocabulary or especially difficult wording on the assessment?
       3. Did students demonstrate a misconception that can be corrected the next time the course is taught?
       4. How much time did students have to practice this skill? Do they need more?

Assess Impact of Change

Implement change and assess again. I
s there evidence that the changes have resulted in the improvements you were aiming for? If so, then it is a cause for celebration. If not, then faculty members will have to once again analyze the findings and determine and implement further strategies to better support student learning.

Plan Share Coolect Analyze Identify assess