Assessment and Outcomes

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Selecting Measurable Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes are observable indicators or evidence of actual student learning. Each program must select an array of assessment tools, which can include both direct measures of student knowledge and performance, and indirect measures of changes in student behavior, attitudes, or values.

Direct measures include national standardized tests; licensing or certification exams; local content or competency exams, papers, or projects; skills tests, projects, reports, demonstrations, or performances; portfolio analysis; capstone projects, experiences, or performances; email or online discussion board content; and so forth.

Indirect measures include surveys of students, alumni, or employers; student or graduate profiles, interviews, or focus groups; transcript analysis; periodic review of syllabi, textbooks, exams, or other curricular materials; and so forth.

Each program will have its own unique needs and its own set of outcomes. What is important is that each outcome provides evidence about the accomplishment of a particular program objective. Ideally, each objective will be assessed by multiple outcomes measures so that:

  • Each outcome is a measurable estimator of a program objective
  • Outcomes selected are feasible measures given the resources available
  • Outcomes link actual student learning to intended post-graduate abilities
  • Outcomes accurately reflect ability and knowledge
  • Outcomes can be direct or indirect measures