Assessment and Outcomes

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Program Assessment Plans

In order to satisfy the reporting requirements imposed by both the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) and the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, Western's Assessment Plan (PDF file) requires all academic programs to implement formal plans for the assessment of program outcomes in general and of student learning outcomes in particular. Western must be able to demonstrate to these outside agencies that all academic units have designed and implemented assessment plans, and must report annually on how assessment data is being used to improve academic programs. It is important to emphasize that the purpose of assessing student learning outcomes is to make inferences about programs, not about students.

Program assessment must document two kinds of learning outcomes: basic mastery of fundamental knowledge and abilities, and sequential development through a hierarchy of professional and personal abilities, including elements which foster social interaction and personal maturation, such as volunteerism, internships, capstone experiences, field-related employment experiences, collaborative learning experiences, interaction with faculty, and other experiential mechanisms.

Program assessment plans should be designed around developmental goals and objectives in ways that demonstrate how well a program curriculum works as a whole. Academic departments are encouraged to develop methods for assessing the relevant integrative abilities of their disciplines in addition to assessing the more conventional kinds of cognitive gains which have generally been more narrowly defined and easier to measure.