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Overview of Assessment

Student Outcomes Assessments entails the thoughtful and systematic measurement and analysis of student learning in order to improve teaching and learning1 A good assessment effort provides academic units with information that can be used to take stock, to continue and reinforce approaches that are working well, and to reconsider and modify approaches that do not2. For a concise statement on the value and role of student outcomes assessment in higher education, refer to the American Association for Higher Education.

Assessment can be defined as an attempt to measure student learning over a progression of courses or over time during a course, as opposed to performance on standalone course examinations. The idea is to measure a class's collective "internalization" of knowledge, concepts, and skills as they relate to a field or subject.

Student Outcomes are the levels of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and abilities that students have attained during their university experience.

"Knowledge outcomes generally refer to particular areas of disciplinary or professional content that students can recall, relate, and appropriately deploy."

"Skills outcomes generally refer to the learned capacity to do something - for example think critically, communicate effectively, productively collaborate, or perform particular technical procedures - as either an end in itself or as a prerequisite for further development."

"Attitudinal or affective outcomes, in turn, usually involve changes in beliefs or the development of particular values - for example empathy, ethical behavior, self-respect, or respect for others."

"Learned abilities, finally, typically involve the integration of knowledge, skills, and attitudes in complex ways that require multiple elements of learning. Examples embrace leadership, teamwork, effective problem-solving, and reflective practice."3

1 Marchese, T. J. (1987). Third down, ten years to go. AAHE Bulletin, 40, 3-8.
2 Palomba, C. A., & Banta, T. W. (1999). Assessment essentials: Planning implementing, and improving assessment in higher education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc.
3 Ewell, P. T. (August 2001). Accreditation and student learning outcomes: A proposed point of departure. Council for Higher Educational Accreditation Occasional Paper.