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

Section 6
Program Assessment


Section 7
Closing the Loop

Section 8
Implementing Assessment Training
Vehicle for Implementation
The Core Committee
Assessment Audit
Campus-wide Logistics

Training Leaders
Campus Training
Closing the Loop
Sustaining Assessment

Section 9
References & Resources



Using Materials from this Website


Implementing Campus-wide Course and Program Assessment Training

There are many strategies for implementing assessment. There are some common problems and roadblocks and these factors should be considered when planning to implement assessment (see Table 1 Potential Problems in the resources section). Where and how assessment training is done is dependent upon institutional culture, resources, strengths, and existing processes. Case studies find very few assessment plans that are similar because of the diversity found in individualized missions and values in the US higher education.

The result -  each institution should craft a strategy that works for the values and culture that permeates the institution.

How do you start assessment on campus?

Higher education faculty are employed based upon discipline expertise, not educational training. Doing assessment well requires a common language and set of skills which may be new to faculty. Some areas, such as vocational programs like nursing, have been doing assessment for many years. Certain disciplines, such as English, are often far ahead of the assessment curve on measuring and implementing assessment methods. Business, engineering, and education faculty have experience with the assessment required by their accreditation boards. Areas dependent upon grant funding have been doing assessment reporting to justify funding. However, most campuses have not approached assessment as a campus-wide issue, and many campuses have had very limited dialogue and sharing about best practices for their specific institution. Assessment works best when it is developed with extensive dialogue and customized to the prevailing culture: both institutions and departments have unique cultures, identities, and values. Assessment can help establish and sustain these or act as an implement of change by providing evidence of needs for new values or policies.

Campus-wide Staff Development

Individual Online Course 

Departmental Development

Guiding philosophy:

 A plan to train faculty for course and program assessment should be


institutionally and culturally appropriate


characterized by dialogue




exemplary - modeling good assessment principles


committed to valid and reliable methods


sustainable and realistic concerning budget and workload


focused on closing the loop to improve education

Note: While I advocate classroom-based embedded assessment, there are campuses that successfully implemented assessment beginning with institutional effectiveness, program level assessment, or general education assessment. (See links in resources section.) Starting at the classroom level will intrinsically motivate faculty and provide a safe environment to learn about and implement assessment. Several key features in this plan are a result of analyzing data and feedback from over 300 faculty and administrators attending SLO and Assessment workshop training. Features heavily emphasized in the feedback from community faculty and administrators throughout California are marked with an asterisk*.

Proceed to a Selecting a Steering Committee

Resources and Links

Table 1: Potential Problems, Roadblocks, and Difficulties in Implementing Assessment

Check out the strategies found at the RP Groups Center for Student Success

Draft Assessment Plan at Bakersfield College (power point)

Check out sample assessment plans at the California Assessment Institute


Section 8 Implementing Assessment Training
 as a Workbook
(27 pages)



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