Assessing Student Learning in Higher Education

 Section 1

Section 2
 Background  Survey
What is Assessment?
Why Assessment?
Educational Improvement
Formative Feedback
Learning Paradigm
Prompting Learning

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

Assessment Prompts Learning

In an alternative perspective to that dreaded question, “Will this be on the test?” Boud (1995a) suggested that assessment prompts learning. In other words, faculty provoke deep learning with appropriate types of challenging assessment methods, or conversely, develop rote memory and recall via assessment methods. Student learning is guided not only by what we test, but also by how we test. If we ask for simple recall, students will study and regurgitate; if we ask for synthetic, evaluative and analytical questions, their studying must address this.

Assessment can help faculty address learning using new cognitive research information.

New technology and recent research concerning how people learn has provided important information about the brain that can enhance classroom pedagogy and improve learning. The following information is excerpted from Knowing What Students Know by the National Research Council.


Students come to class with pre-conceptions that must be engaged or they will fail to grasp new concepts and information, or they will learn new information for a test only to revert to preconceptions outside of class.


Students develop competence in an area when they have: (a) a deep factual knowledge, (b) understand the facts within a conceptual framework, and (c) organize knowledge so that they can retrieve and apply it.


Students that take control of their own learning, through a metacognitive approach (monitoring their own goals and progress in achieving them) are able to achieve deep and permanent learning.


Assessment represents an essential component for improving teaching and learning but it must target proficiency of content and metacognitive skills.


An important role for assessment is timely, informative feedback to facilitate practice and acquisition of proficiency of skills and deep learning.  Assessment should reveal the development of knowledge and skills to allow formative improvement, not just summative judgment, if it is to improve teaching and learning.


Technology represents a unique opportunity to engage knowledge and cognitive skills, and assess proficiency in an enriched environment.


Please use the link at the right for more exciting information about deep learning.

Proceed to the conclusion of this section

Resources and Links

Assessment for learning: contradictory or complementary?
Boud, D. (1995a).

Background Information on Deep Learning


Background Materials on the Learning Institution Paradigm

Section 2  Document


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