Outcomes Assessment

Outcomes or Student Learning Outcomes are the measurable changes in (1) knowledge, (2) skills, (3) behaviors, or (4) values, that faculty, curriculum developers, program developers, institutions, and students define for students.  This question,  “What are the things we want students to (1) know and (2) be able to do once they complete a class, course, major, or undergraduate degrees,” is a common and useful version of the definition.

Outcomes assessment is the method(s) and process(es) used to measure learning outcomes. Assessment is an integral part of of teaching and learning, as it gives us the data with which we can critically evaluate what we do: get students to learn through our teaching.  Outcomes assessment is typically viewed as part of a four (4) step cycle seen below.  Learning goals are student learning outcomes.  Learning opportunities should be broadly viewed as anything teachers do to engage students and have them think about our / their learning goals.  Assessing learning will be expanded upon on these pages.  Last, upon analysis of assessment data, we must reflect on what worked what did not work; what students know and can do AND what students do not know and cannot do.  This personal, program, and / or institutional reflection will lead to continual improvements of our teaching and our students’ learning.

four step assessment cycle

Teaching and Learning Assessment Cycle. Cornell University – Assessment of Student Learning

“Assessment is an on-going process. We don’t ‘get it done’; we ‘get on with it.’”
Outcomes Assessment, Miami of Ohio (Credit:Allen, Mary. 2006. Assessment Workshop Materials – California State University, Bakersfield.)

These pages are meant to do several things:

  • Point to assessment resources and information at UMW,
  • Report authoritative and useful information for those thinking about learning outcomes and outcomes assessment.

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