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Methods & Measures

The objective is to answer the research question: Have students learned what is expected of them upon completion of the program? Often, particular course-embedded requirements, such as a senior capstone paper, serve as natural and appropriate assessment vehicles for program-level perspective.

A variety of assessment methods can be taken based on the number of students in the program, length of the program, etc. For example, pulling a representative sample of all students in the program is a great method for large programs; population-level data and analysis might be more appropriate for small programs; and for very small programs, there may not be enough students to assess in a given year.

Often, taking a close look at the program curriculum will yield natural, existing points at which to assess student learning (mid- and end-point analysis). For instance, consider what measures already exist in the program. Course-embedded measures are regular course assignments such as a final exam or research paper. Another option is to use a measure that's not an existing course assignment such as a licensing exam.

Evidence Type
DefinitionExamples
Direct*
Obervable products of student learning
  • Theses
  • Final exam
  • Capstone projects
  • Performances
  • Certification exam pass rates
Indirect
Perceptions/reflections of student learning
  • Exit surveys
  • Alumni surveys
  • Enrollment data
  • Job placement rates
*Accreditation standards require at least 1 direct measure in program-level assessment.

Example

  • Weak: Faculty will review student course evaluations and satisfaction surveys.
  • Stong: Using a representative sample of 20 student theses, a team of faculty will evaluate the quality of student work using common criteria.

Curriculum Mapping

Curriculum mapping is a method of analyzing the relationship between the curriculum and student learning outcomes. A curriculum map graphically illustrates how a program's courses/requirements introduce and reinforce the program's student learning outcomes. 

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Rubrics & Benchmarking

A rubric is a tool that defines common criteria by which student performance can be assessed.

Benchmarking is a process by which standards (benchmarks) are developed to compare student progress. Benchmarking allows faculty to determine whether students have reached learning goals.

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