Assessment in Academic Programs
The purpose of Academic Assessment is to improve student learning through systematic, faculty-driven assessment of academic programs. It is a collaborative process that involves faculty, students, staff, administrators, and other campus stakeholders.
The academic assessment process involves:
- Establishing student learning outcomes
- Measuring and analyzing student achievement of the outcomes aggregated across the program
- Reviewing findings and creating action plans to improve curricula or support services
- Implementing improvements and assessing effectiveness of changes on student outcomes
Student learning outcomes describe the knowledge and skills we expect students to gain by the time they complete a course of study at Carolina.
Academic departments often address Program Outcomes in their assessment plans in addition to student learning outcomes. These 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 examples of appropriate measures.
The means of assessment should emphasize direct examination of student work such as papers, tests, and presentations. These measures should provide evidence that students’ knowledge or abilities have increased since they began their course of study.
Indirect assessments such as exit interviews; job placement rates; and students’ professional publications, presentations, and awards; or surveys of alumni may also be used as supplemental measures. These types of assessments are useful in understanding how students believe they have benefited from their educational experience and how they have applied it. They can be helpful in informing decisions related to changes in instruction or the curriculum, but they don’t provide direct evidence of what students have learned. Indirect assessments should gather information specific to the intended learning or program outcomes — for example, graduating student surveys should include questions related to the major and not just satisfaction with the college experience in general.
Templates and Examples
Assessment Report templates and examples are provided in the pane on the left side of this page. The templates are provided in a matrix and a narrative format. Both templates contain the same questions and can be adapted for use by any program. In addition, instructions and examples are provided. For more information or assistance, please contact Dr. Lynn Williford.