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

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

Step 1: Selecting a Committee and Means of Training

Determine the component of campus governance that is effective and appropriate to the existing institutional culture that could be used as a steering committee to initiate training. Use this committee or a subcommittee as the core for campus training. Assessment relates to many different aspects of campus life and crosses a variety of institutional processes; therefore, nearly any effective governing body can be used as an implementation vehicle.

Sample Effective areas:

bulletCurriculum committee
bulletProgram Review
bulletExisting Assessment committee
bulletInstitutional effectiveness committee
bulletStaff development
bulletTeaching and Learning center
bulletDepartment chairs council
bulletBudget and program review committees

Ineffective areas:
(These areas have been reported in the literature as ineffective structures for initiating training)

bulletThe senate as a whole
bulletCollege council, President’s Council (campus-wide committees)
bulletPredominately or exclusively administrative committees

Indeterminate area:

bulletCreating an all new assessment committee

Some campuses have elected to create an all new committee. All successful and sustained assessment projects have an assessment committee steering them eventually but committee roles are very diverse.

If there is no existing committee, consider training a core and creating a long-term committee from trained and interested participants.

Start Here:

Select a Steering Committee from an effective governance body on campus

 Develop a steering committee structure and budget.

Conduct  an assessment audit


Determine campus-wide logistics

Leader Training and Materials: Select and train core leaders using training materials. (1 semester – 1 year),  at
Consider piloting some assessment projects

Campus-wide Training: Use the core team to mentor small groups on campus. Begin the general background and outcomes (SLO) training with sections 2 & 3 in multidisciplinary groups (1 year). Use disciplinary groups for assessment training using sections 4 & 5 and then proceed to sections 6 & 7 (1-2 years).

Plan for Implementing Campus-wide Course and Program Assessment

Support core training.

Re-evaluate needs for disseminated training.

Close the Loop: Emphasize and reward closing the loop in courses and programs. Redraft campus processes based on evidence to yield improvement.

Sustain the Process: Fuel sustained assessment through budget decisions to support improved learning and communicating improvements. Make continuous training available to new employees.

Describe existing practices and available data.

Proceed to Step 2 - The Steering Committee

Resources and Links


Assessment implementation at Phoenix College of the Maricopa District

Kansas State University Assessment Strategy


Download Section 8 as a printable Word Document
(27 pages)



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