Assessment of student learning at the program level (or program assessment) is based on aggregate data about student learning collected at summative points in a program. It is to be distinguished from assessment of individual student learning at the course level, which results in formative feedback to students about their learning and grades. Program assessment also differs from program review, which is a periodic examination of a program using data from a variety of sources, including assessment of student learning at the program level.
The following describes the Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs (SGPP) practices for assessment of student learning at the program level based on nine principle statements outlined by The American Association for Higher Education.
Assessment is an assurance process for us and our constituencies, a responsibility to maintain educational rigor and institutional values that include
- acknowledging the presence of God in each student;
- emphasizing the human relationship between teacher and student;
- teaching students to work together in groups to facilitate learning;
- emphasizing professionally oriented and workplace relevant programs;
- seeking to create a community spirit of support for learning;
- fostering innovation in teaching methods; and
- calling members of the community to use their learning in the service of others.
The University mission and the features of Lasallian pedagogy inform our teaching and learning as well as the assessment of student learning. Program outcomes reflect both discipline content and core learning that is derived directly from our mission and educational values. We assess in order to make improvements to programs designed to “awaken, nurture, and empower our students to lives of ethical service and leadership” within a particular field.
Assessment of student learning examines a range of expected learning outcomes through data collected at various times. Conducted at key summative points in a program or following graduation, aggregate assessment data includes performance on discipline dispositional ratings, in clinical or practicum situations, and on national exams, and feedback from alumni and employers on workplace application of learning.
All programs have a unified curricular structure, built with assessment in mind. Program outcomes state what all students are expected to be able to do upon graduation. Assessment indicators delineate how the outcomes are demonstrated. Course-based student learning objectives outline the learning that students demonstrate in each course. Finally, course assignments are mapped to the course-based student learning objectives.
Key learning activities strategically placed throughout the program build knowledge, skills, and ways of thinking that lead to final summative activity and greater success in the workplace. Assessment of student learning at the program level allows us to see the results from the intersection of the curricular framework, instructional strategies, program delivery, student engagement, and our teaching and learning environment.
Effective assessment and documentation of learning involve continuous data collection, analysis, discussion, and reporting. Assessment plans and instruments are reviewed by the Assessment Committee. Data is collected and archived centrally for comparative purposes. Discussions about program improvements and School initiatives are held among faculty and staff in each program, across programs with a School Dean, and collectively in the SGPP. The overall assessment process itself also undergoes regular review for continual improvement.
Assessment of student learning at the program level includes program directors, faculty, outside discipline experts, and academic staff in designing assessments, rating student learning, analyzing data, and suggesting improvements. It is a collaborative process that informs how both a program and the institution can be continuously improved and enhanced.
Assessment makes a difference when it brings with it issues of use and illuminates questions that people really care about.
Assessment begins with an articulation of what we want students to learn and what indicates achievement of the stated outcomes. For example, the core SGPP learning is an agreed upon critical thinking framework that outlines what graduates are expected to be able to do using the principles, knowledge, and approaches in their fields of study.
Administrative, school, and program leadership understand and promote the importance of assessment of student learning among faculty and the entire academic community. Positioning assessment of student learning as one component among other institutional measures of effectiveness is key to program and institutional vitality.
For further information regarding assessment of student learning at the program level please contact:
Curriculum and Assessment - Associate Dean