2018–19 Updates

To increase the usefulness of the program assessment process, SAS is changing the information that departments are asked to report on their assessment activities in 2018–19.

For the full set of questions that departments will be asked to report on in 2018–19, pdf please click here (123 KB) .

For the 2018-19 Program Assessment report form document please click here. (347 KB)

Inquiry-Oriented Assessment

After collecting feedback from faculty focus groups and the Assessment Committee, SAS is adopting an inquiry-oriented approach to assessment. This approach begins with a question about student learning that faculty believe will help to inform their department’s decisions.

Any question that your department finds useful is acceptable, as long as: 1. answering the question involves directly examining student learning or performance, and 2. you can articulate how answering that question will help to inform your department’s decisions about curriculum design, instructional practices, student advising, or other factors that impact student learning.


Can my department continue to engage in assessment of learning outcomes as we have in the past?

Yes! These revisions are meant to increase flexibility and focus our efforts on improving student learning, not to prevent departments from continuing practices that work well for them. If you want to take this route, your department will investigate the question Are students demonstrating mastery of our program’s learning goals?

What are some other questions about student learning that departments might ask?

Here are some examples, modeled on questions that SAS departments have investigated in the past:

  • Did adding a prerequisite to our honors seminar increase student performance as expected?
  • Did students participating in our new internship program demonstrate the ability to integrate and apply what they’ve learned in the program?
  • Did students taking the new online version of our survey course demonstrate the same level of mastery of learning goals as students taking the face-to-face version?

What do you mean by "directly examining student performance"?

Your assessment activities should involve taking a direct look at student work in some form. That might include written work, responses to exam questions, or performance in oral presentations, among many other possibilities. It does not include some other ways of collecting data, for instance surveying student satisfaction, which might provide valuable information but don't provide direct insight into students' academic performance.

What if we aren’t sure how to answer our question?

Don’t worry! David Goldman, SAS Director of Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, is available to support you in articulating questions, identifying and collecting information that will help to address those questions, analyzing the information collected, and using that analysis. He is also ready to connect you with institutional resources that can help you access and analyze the information you need.

Do we have to make changes in response to what we find? What if our investigation this year leads to further questions?

That’s fine! We encourage further inquiry. You should be able to identify some foreseeable positive impact on student learning as a result of your inquiry, but it’s reasonable to need to collect further information before taking action.

Is it OK for our inquiry to focus on a specific course or point in the curriculum?

Yes, as long as you are collecting specific, useful information that can have a positive impact on student learning.

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