Assessing Student Learning in Higher Education

   Section 1

Section 2
Background and Rationale for Assessment

Section 3
Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Section 4
 Assessment Tools and Data
 Quality Data
 Defining Terms
Assessment Tools
 Grades & Assessment
Primary Trait Analysis
Selecting the Tools
Creating a Tool
 Quiz Answers
Your SLOs

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



Your SLOs and Assessing Students

Cognitive scientists have excellent data to support the fact that multiple factors contribute to successfully achieving learning outcomes.

Key Findings on Learning Research from the National Research Council

  1. 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 them for a test only to revert to preconceptions outside of class.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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.

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

In the next section we will look at the assessment process in a course which entails assessing several important components of teaching and learning:

bulletstudent preconceptions
bulletstudent metacognition
bulletstudent learning

Learning Outcomes

 Pathways for Improvement Through Classroom Assessment


Feeds into Institutional and Program  Assessment


Assesses Pedagogical




Assesses Curricular


Improve teaching strategies & activities

Improve curriculum

Assesses Student- Learning



Modifications to support  improved learning

Modifications to improve outcomes


















Outcomes for Section 4

After completing Section 4 the participants will be able to

Plan for and implement assessment for the SLOs previously created.  

 Describe assessment data and tools.

 Compare and contrast the various types of assessment tools  relevant to SLOs drafted for a course or program.

 Evaluate and select appropriate assessment methods.

Take a Break

Proceed to Course Assessment

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Remember you can download this section as a word document Section 4 (34 pages)


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