Assessing Student Learning in Higher Education

Author's Home Page 

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

Section 6
Program Assessment
Setting the Stage
Defining Programs
Program SLOs
General Education Programs
Program Assessment Tools
Homegrown Program Assessment Tools
Program/Course Matrix
Program Review and Program Assessment
Sample Program Assessment Reports

Section 7
Closing the Loop

Section 8
Implementing Assessment Training on Campus


Section 9
References & Resources



Using Materials from this Website



General Education Program Assessment

General Education refers to that course of study often called Liberal Studies or Inter-Disciplinary Studies and represents the majority of AA degrees granted in California Community Colleges and the set of core studies for most discipline specific degrees. Some combinations of these courses are also referred to as CSU Breadth Requirements, IGETC - Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum, or the local institution's general education requirements. (Look in your institution's catalogue for specific courses approved for transfer and degrees.)

Some campus-wide assessment initiatives start by assessing the General Education Curriculum, which cuts across nearly every department or program. Initiatives at this level require intensive cross disciplinary discussion and participation and clearly defined Student Learning Outcomes for the General Education Program of study. *Once again I suggest this conversation occurs most productively if faculty have been trained and had the experience of doing assessment in their favorite courses first.

General Education requirements often define the unique character of US higher education institutions. Program outcomes will be highly variable depending upon program goals, the community expectations, the student population, and the institutional mission. ACCJC-WASC describes very specific standards which must be present in the core of all GE programs, I have summarized them below - the link in the resource section contains them in detail.

Summary of GE Standards ACCJC-WASC Standard II.A.3.a-c

The GE program must publicize a philosophy and must include courses as part of the program based upon SLOs.

GE outcomes must include:

1. Basic discipline content and methodology for humanities, fine arts, natural sciences and social sciences.

2. Productive individual and life-long learner skills including oral and written communication, computer literacy, scientific and quantitative reasoning, critical analysis/logical thinking

3. Recognition of ethics and effective citizenry such as: interpersonal skills, appreciation of diversity, historical and aesthetic sensitivity, and civic responsibility.


In the resources section I have linked pages that summarize General Education SLOs by topics for many higher education institutions across the US. While unique outcomes and language are characteristic of GE programs, there is also a strong core of outcomes that overlap regardless of the accrediting association or institutional characteristics. You will notice the similarity, yet the unique nature, amongst these various institution's general education areas. Reviewing these sample general education areas in light of the ACCJC-WASC standards provides good guidelines for creating General Education Outcomes. Remember, courses become part of the General Education Program based upon the alignment of course and GE outcomes.

Use the links to the right to further explore GE Assessment or Proceed to Program Assessment Tools

Resources and Links

ACCJC-WASC Specific General Education Considerations



Sample General Education Audit by Creel at Northern Virginia Community College












General Education Program Details

1. General Education SLO topics by institutions

2. Steps for GE Assessment

3. Links & Summary of sample GE Assessment methods

4. Linking General Assessment Outcomes to Individual Courses

5. GE Outcomes Worksheet


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