Assessment and Outcomes

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Teaching - Learning Fellows, Summer 2003 Learning Outcome Project

WWU Primer on improving the Teaching, Learning, Assessment Cycle

Janice Lapsansky, Project Leader

Beginning in June 2003, four faculty members engaged in a pilot project designed to lead Western Washington University’s teaching community in the regular and systematic assessment of student learning outcomes (SLO) in undergraduate courses. Supported by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and the Office of Institutional Assessment, Research, and Testing, this effort was launched as one mechanism to facilitate the transition from program assessment to individual course assessment.

Sustainable implementation of regular and formal classroom assessment was the central objective of this project. The program focused primarily on assessment of learning outcomes in general education courses within four disciplines: History, Environmental Science, Psychology, and Geology. The primary goal was to produce exemplars of classroom assessment, incorporated into an instructional design with the potential to help students become more reflective and effective learners.

Each participating faculty member selected a student research partner to access the student perspective in order to gain a deeper understanding of student learning and of effective communication of course objectives in classroom practice. The structure of the program and the methods employed were characteristic of scholarship in any field: incorporating literature review, creativity, collaboration, enactment, and dissemination activities. The project leader solicited mid-point and final evaluations from participants to document and make improvements to the process.

Below is a graphic depiction of the assessment learning cycle in which the four faculty participated. More detailed synopses of each faculty member's contributions to the project are available on the links to environmental science, geology, history, and psychology.

Assessment Learning Cycle