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

Section 5
Course Assessment
What do you assess?
Assessing Pedagogy
Assessing Curriculum
Assessing Student Metacognition
Assessing Student Learning
Course SLO Matrix
Curriculum Review
Sample Course Assessment Reports

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

Sample Course Assessment Plans and Reports


In the resource section I have linked a sample assessment plan in two formats: 1) showing a three year timeline to implement the assessments and 2) showing how each SLO will be assessed by the end of the three year timeline. Each year has four assessment activities, two can be implemented the first semester and two the second semester. Although I am getting data on many of my SLOs I will focus my reporting on one or two of the SLOs each year.

The most difficult aspect of assessment is taking the TIME to write down thoughts and conclusions concerning the data, simply because it is a new step, but a valuable one allowing improvement to be made based on data, rather than intuition. Most practitioners suggest reviewing the data and writing thoughts and concerns down immediately.


Review assessment results immediately - it only takes 15 - 30 minutes, depending upon the data.


Sort index cards into piles by topics and write a few summary lines based upon the major topics on the cards.


Store the student data and conclusions in a dated file folder.


Collect digital data in a spreadsheet with summary statements typed directly into a section of the sheet.


Review data with colleagues immediately via email or phone or  make a note to share it with faculty at the next department meeting.


Share important student feedback (being careful to retain student anonymity) at the next class meeting. The English 2 (Advanced Composition and Critical Thinking) decided to post the aggregated class data on the class website. This produced an interesting response; students anticipated the data and become even more engaged in the course.

Assessment Report

The assessment report should be simple and to the point, no more than a single page, and most reports (excluding SLO statements) are only half a page. I have linked the University of Washington Assessment Website which has numerous course assessment reports available and included the assessment report for Microbiology in the resource section.

Sample Assessment Report Template



Methods of Assessment:

Assessment Results Summary and Interpretation:

Plans for Improvement:

These reports go to the department chair and are aggregated for a program assessment report and used as resources for department planning.

Discuss, evaluate, and act on the assessment data.

        Participate in cross disciplinary dialogue about assessment results, outcomes, potential modifications and improvements.

        Evaluate the changes needed in a course or program following thorough reflection and discussion of the data.

        Implement modifications to improve student learning, student metacognition, curriculum or pedagogy based on evidence.

        Create a public report to communicate the strengths and weakness in a course or program based upon student learning outcome data.

Develop, modify, or review a curriculum, course, program, or service.


Develop Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)


Design & Measure Student Learning as a result of the Curriculum, Course, or Program


Collect, discuss, and analyze data.


Determine refinements based on outcomes data.

  Closing the Assessment Loop

Proceed to Section 6 Program Assessment

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Resources and Links

Microbiology 3 year Assessment Plan by Year

Microbiology Assessment Plan by SLOs

Microbiology Background Survey and Misconceptions

Microbiology Background and Misconceptions
Survey Data

Microbiology Assessment Report 2004

University of Washington sample Course Assessment Reports

Download Section 5 Program Assessment as a Workbook
(42 pages)



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