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 Curriculum
Course SLO Matrix
Assessing Pedagogy
Assessing Prior Knowledge
Assessing Metacognition
Assessing Outcomes
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

Course Assessment and Curriculum Review Processes

The official curriculum document of record must represent what the institution has guaranteed the public about a given course. It is an outline that lists the important components, criteria, and expectations for each course. WASC accreditation standards include the specific requirement that the outcomes for courses be explicitly stated in the curriculum document of record. This would include those core SLOs collegially approved by the discipline faculty. The syllabus for each course and section must include all relevant SLOs; those particular to that instructor in addition to the core SLOs those on the document of record.

The curriculum committee may need to review the official curriculum document of record to be sure it provides information relevant to the new accreditation standards. Faculty may need to update their syllabi to include explicit SLOs. Discussion about these issues and any process changes should involve broad campus dialogue, careful consideration of the WASC standards, and be consistent with campus culture, missions, and values. It is helpful for the leadership to draft a timeline for both modifying the curriculum review process and reviewing updates on existing curriculum. A realistic timeline would project this updating over the next 3-5 years depending upon the campus and number of courses. Serious evaluation and careful process modifications are essential in good assessment practices and sustainable assessment practices.

Using the ASCCC curriculum document of record format and new WASC standards, a good starting point for components of new curriculum documents would include:

A description of how the course addresses the key theory, skills, knowledge, and abilities associated with the discipline.

A list of core Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) for the course. (DO not include SLOs specific to instructors, only those SLOs agreed to as the core course SLOs by discipline faculty.)

A very brief explanation of the process used to determine the core SLOs.

A record of the course topics or concepts and teaching objectives associated with each topic and activity.

Identification of the various types of instruction used to address the course content and objectives. (These can be generally addressed with a checklist and may vary among instructors.)

A description of how the outcomes will be assessed. (Use the same general terms used in reporting the types of instruction. DO not specify assessment tools; this provides freedom within each section to test various methods and adapt tools that work best for each instructor. It is more important to address the use of single tools or embedded components when dealing with program assessment.)

This also suggests that the program review processes may need to be reviewed and updated; this will be discussed section 6.

What should the faculty do with course assessment data reports? As previously stated, these reports are of value to the instructor and students. Aggregated data and results are useful to departments or programs and protect student and faculty confidentiality. The next section describes what these reports might look like and suggests a reporting template for use with aggregated course data.

Proceed to Sample Course Assessment Reports

Resources and Links

Try out this assessment Audit Tool from the Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN) in the UK and let them know whether it was useful and how you used it.  Assessment audit tool to check assessment practices in a course

Academic Senate of California Community Colleges  ASCCC models before WASC changes
Components of a Model Course Outline of Record

Stylistic Considerations in Writing the Course Outlines of Record

Role of Faculty in the Curriculum Process




New WASC Standards See Standard 2.A.2.


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