“What data will be used as evidence to evaluate the outcomes, and where does it makes sense in the curriculum to collect the data?”


Once a program’s student learning outcomes have been defined, the second step in the assessment cycle is to collect the data that will be used for the assessment, to evaluate the extent to which the learning outcomes were achieved.

Important to keep in mind

  • Pick data/information/evidence appropriate for your discipline.
  • Be sure to include at least one form of direct evidence.
  • Larger programs may benefit from picking a representative sample of student artifacts to be evaluated for the assessment.
  • If you're struggling with where to collect data, try examining your program’s curriculum map. It will often yield natural points for assessment—such as a final exam or research paper—that already exist in the program. You could also use a measure that's not a course assignment, such as a licensing exam.

Methods of Collecting Data

Direct vs. Indirect Measures

Accreditation standards require at least one direct measure in program-level assessment. However, programs should incorporate both direct and indirect measures in their broad assessment strategies.

Direct Measures are observable, quantifiable products of student learning. Examples include:

  • Theses
  • Final exams
  • Capstone projects
  • Faculty evaluations of student performances
  • Certification exam pass rates

Indirect Measures are anecdotal perceptions or reflections of student learning. Examples include:

  • Exit surveys
  • Alumni surveys
  • Enrollment data
  • Job placement rates

Curriculum Mapping

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

Benefit for Programs

  • Pinpoints which courses in a curriculum introduce and reinforce program learning outcomes
  • Identifies where evidence for program-level assessment can be collected
  • Ensures curriculum provides sufficient learning opportunities for students to master specific learning outcomes

Benefit for Faculty

  • Understand how their course fits and contributes to the entire curriculum
  • Design end-of-course assignments that may simultaneously help assess a particular program-level learning outcome (e.g., capstone paper, statistics final exam, senior research project)

Benefit for Students

  • Grasp the "big picture" of the curriculum and how specific courses will contribute to their mastery of student learning outcomes

Curriculum Mapping Resources


A rubric is a tool that can be used to clearly outline the criteria and expectations for the evaluation of a student product. For instance, what characteristics differentiate exemplary, satisfactory, and poor student work products?

Rubrics help provide specific, diagnostic information about student learning as demonstrated in a student product. When programs aggregate patterns of student performance from scores tied to rubrics, the opportunity to better understand strengths and weaknesses in overall student performance is enhanced.


Amy Becker

Amy Becker
Academic Assessment Officer

Related Content

Additional Resources