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

Definitions of Assessment

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, ACCJC-WASC, which accredits colleges in California, Hawai'i, and the Pacific Region, defines assessment as the methods that an institution employs to gather evidence and evaluate quality.  ACCJC-WASC Commission Standards, 2002, p. 29

Assessment is an ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving student learning. It involves making our expectations explicit and public; setting appropriate criteria and high standards for learning quality; systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well performance matches those expectations and standards; and using the resulting information to document, explain, and improve performance. When it is embedded effectively within larger institutional systems, assessment can help us focus our collective attention, examine our assumptions, and create a shared academic culture dedicated to assuring and improving the quality of higher education. (Angelo, 1995b, p.7).

I shall consider assessment to include the gathering of information concerning the functioning of students, staff, and institutions of higher education. The information may or may not be in numerical form, but the basic motive for gathering it is to improve the functioning of the institution and its people. I use functioning to refer to the broad social purposes of a college or university: to facilitate student learning and development, to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and to contribute to the community, and the society. (Astin, 1993, p.2)

Educational assessment includes all of the data-gathering and evaluative processes that allow us to understand teaching and learning. (Tanner, 2001, p. 17)


Resources and Links





AAHE Assessment Forum Definitions





Assessment for Excellence, Astin, 1993


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