Assessing Student Learning in Higher Education

Section 1
Intro Part 2
Course Topics
Training SLOs Training Tools
Training Strategies

Section 2
Background and Rationale for Assessment

Section 3
Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Section 4
Assessment Tools and Data

Section 5
Course Assessment

Section 6
Program Assessment


Section 7
Closing the Loop

Section 8
Implementing Assessment Training on Campus


Section 9
References & Resources



Using Materials from this Website


Introduction Part 2 - Knowing What Students Can DO

Take a moment to write down the best thing you do in your course or program? (Discuss this with another faculty member.)


How do you know it is the best thing you do? How do you know it is effective?


We want students to be effective communicators, to be discriminating critical thinkers, to have content knowledge, to be life-long learners, to have aesthetic appreciation, and so on. The problem with goals is that they are basically invisible. How can one tell if students possess these attributes? During assessment training sessions, faculty members often say, “I can tell that my students are learning because I can see it in their eyes.” This is nonsense, of course, because the clairvoyance claimed by the faculty members is neither reproducible nor transferable to anyone else. Hence, we need to do assessment in order to figure out how effective our curriculum is at producing the desired learning. But if goals are inherently invisible, how do we assess whether students have actually learned them? The key is to assess visible indicators. This means translating goals into associated, tangible learning objectives. In order to make this translation, professors need to answer this question: “What would you, a reasoned skeptic, need to witness in order to be convinced that students were on the path toward achieving the designated goal?” For example, if the goal is effective communication in a chemistry student, then the learning objective might be delivery of a speech on a technically complex topic using jargon-free speech to a lay audience. The speech would be an indicator that the student is an effective communicator and that the curriculum is effective in producing students with this attribute” Dr. Douglas Eder Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE).

  Proceed to Navigating the Website

Resources and Links

Dr. Douglas Eder's Assessment Website for SIUE


Printable version
Section 1
Cover and Introduction to Assessing Student Learning in Community Colleges


Janet Fulks ( & Kate Pluta (
Assessing Student Learning in Community Colleges (2004), Bakersfield College