Academic Program Assessment

The purpose of academic assessment is to improve student learning experiences through an ongoing, systematic, faculty-driven assessment process for each academic program. The academic assessment process involves:

  • Establishing student learning outcomes
  • Identifying meaningful measures and expected performance levels
  • Reviewing findings and creating action plans to improve curricula, instruction, or support
  • Implementing improvement action plans

Student Learning Outcomes identify the body of knowledge, set of skills, and dispositions of attitude that we expect students to gain by the time they complete their degree program. Because the scope of these outcomes covers several years of study, they are often broad statements. However, the means to measure success in those areas should be specific enough to identify patterns of success and difficulty for students. Assessment methods can be classified as either direct or indirect. See the Method of Assessment Chart for characteristics of each method. 

Direct Assessment methods examine student work such as papers, tests, and presentations. These measures should provide evidence of students’ knowledge or abilities.

Indirect assessments methods, such as exit interviews or surveys of students or alumni may also be used. These types of assessments are useful in understanding how students perceive they have benefited from their educational experience.

Program Effectiveness Outcomes may describe strategic goals for the department, such as graduation rates, diversity, faculty hires to enhance the curriculum, or improvements identified through the external Program Review process. Graduation and job placement rates, the number of presentations and publications by students, or examination of the program by external reviewers are also examples of appropriate measures.

Annual Assessment Reports facilitate ongoing faculty conversations that seek to identify areas for improvement in student learning. Institutional resources such as a common reporting template, help look for patterns above the individual program level and seek institutional solutions of broader scope.  The Student Learning Outcome and Program Effectiveness (SLOPE) template seeks to provide an executive summary table as a common organizing feature, while still allowing programs to include as much context and supporting documentation as is useful for the program.


SLOPE Report Template [doc]

Method of Assessment Chart [pdf]

Curriculum-Outcome Matrix [xls]

FAQs on Academic Assessment [web}

Feature Articles on Assessment [web]

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