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Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment

IEA supports several processes related to assessment, accreditation, and state reporting.

  • Assessment of student learning and administrative outcomes
  • Course evaluations
  • Institutional surveys of student experience (NSSE, Alumni)
  • Senior Exit Exam (Critical thinking test related to general education)
  • Major Field Tests (Proficiency in a program of study)
  • Program review

IEA works closely with faculty, staff and leadership across the institution to manage these processes. IEA collaborates with other academic affairs units such as Student Achievement and Decision Support and Institutional Research (DSIR).

  • Advise faculty committees
    • Institutional Effectiveness Committee
    • General Education Committee
  • Facilitate faculty and staff engagement
  • Analyze and present institutional data

Big Picture: University Accreditation

The SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation:
Foundations for Quality Enhancement, 2018 Edition

Student learning and student success are at the core of the mission of all institutions of higher learning. Effective institutions focus on the design and improvement of educational experiences to enhance student learning and support student learning outcomes for its educational programs …

institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of seeking improvement based on analysis of the results in the areas below:

  • student learning outcomes for each of its educational programs,
  • student learning outcomes for collegiate-level general education competencies of its undergraduate degree programs, and
  • academic and student services that support student success
Process of assessing and improving student learning

What you do in your courses does not happen in isolation. Course-bsed teaching, learning and assessment should influence and be influenced by competencies, goals, outcomes at university, college and program levels. Courses are the building blocks of curriculum. Continuous improvement -- at all levels – is the goal. You contribute to this process in your courses and as part of a larger program.

Process for aligning student learning across curriculum

Example #1: Medical Laboratory Science

Example of alignment of SLOs in Medical Laboratory Science

Example #2: Writing

Example of alignment of SLOs in Writing

  • Identify student learning outcomes for your course(s)
    • Write course-level outcomes, if not provided. 
  • Include learning outcomes on your syllabus
  • Align course assignments and activities with student learning outcomes
  • Assess student learning in your course and make improvements

1. Identify student learning outcomes

  • What are the student learning outcomes for your program?
    • Ask your chair or program director
    • If teaching in general education, you may also align with one of our “pillars” of gen ed. Check with your chair.
  • Does the program also provide course-level outcomes?
    • Ask your chair or program director
    • If not, write your own course-level learning outcomes

2. Include student learning outcomes in your syllabus

  • These may be determined/directed by your program – check with your chair.
  • Course-level outcomes may or may not be the same as program-level outcomes, in some cases.
  • If course-level outcomes aren’t pre-determined by your program, write your own course-level outcomes and communicate them to students.

3. Align course activities and assignments with student learning outcomes

  • Structure your course to build toward the intended outcomes
  • Carefully select and plan activities and assignments to help students achieve the outcomes
    • Consider accessibility for diverse learners
      • Multiple modes of assessments (papers, tests, presentations, reflections, etc.)
      • Low-stakes assessments that check for learning and allow for informal feedback
      • Scaffolded assignments (that build on one another)
    • Learn more about inclusive course design:
      Inclusive Teaching Strategies - University of Washington CTL
  • Communicate to students which activities and assignments are meant to serve particular outcomes

4. Assess student learning in your course—and make improvements

  • Periodically check in with students about their progress toward the learning outcomes
  • Consider including a few informal, low-stakes assessments
    • These help you quickly understand how students are engaging with the material and progressing toward the outcomes.
      • Minute papers
      • Muddiest point
      • Study skills reflection
      • Process or concept maps
      • Student-led discussion / submitted questions for discussion
      • Quick polls
    • These are sometimes called formative assessments or classroom assessment techniques (CATs).
  • Learn more about CATs and formative assessments:
  • Analyze aggregate student performance on key course assessments, in terms of the outcomes
    • Rubric analysis – How are all students performing on various criteria?
    • Item analysis on quizzes or exams – How are all students performing on various quiz/exam questions?
  • Participate in programmatic assessments as directed by your chair or assessment coordinator
  • Grading evaluates an individual student performance on a particular assignment
  • Grading tells students if they completed a particular task properly, how well they performed, or how many answers they got correct
  • Assessment of student learning helps faculty evaluate our curriculum and teaching methods
  • Assessment of student learning tells faculty how/well students, on the whole, are grasping the material or the skills we are attempting to teach them in a course or program
Identify the specific knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes/values students should be able to demonstrate at the end of this course.
  • What will a student who has finished this course know and be able to do?
Write statements for the knowledge, skills, behaviors and attitudes/values students should be able to demonstrate at the end of this course.
Process for writing SLOs
In general, one three-credit course typically has no more than 3-5 learning outcomes. Student Learning Outcomes should be:
  • Reasonable - Can we achieve these outcomes in the time we have? Are they suitable for the level and nature of this course?
  • Specific - Be as concrete as possible.
  • Measureable - How would we define achievement of or progress toward this outcome? What tool could be used to measure progress (rubric, exam, portfolio, etc.?)
  • Aligned - Course outcomes should serve higher-level outcomes (program, university) and activities and assignments should be designed to lead to outcomes.

SLO's: Your Course in Context

  • Consider your course’s role in the program of study
    • Does the course you’re teaching serve particular program outcomes?
    • What is the level of this course? Introductory? Intermediate? Upper-level?
    • What are the pre-requisites for this course?
    • What do students typically take after this course?
    • Is this a general education requirement, a major requirement or elective, or both?
  • Consider the students who typically take this course
    • Am I teaching majors, non-majors, or both?
    • Am I teaching primarily freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors?
    • What prior learning and personal experiences might students bring to this course?
    • How might APSU’s student body be represented in my course? (e.g first generation, adult, etc.)
  • Consider the limitations
    • Time
    • Space
    • Technology

Additional Considerations:

  • Relevancy to career and community beyond the classroom
    • Is some learning articulated in a way that is accessible to students or external audiences (e.g. employers, those outside the discipline)?
  • Diversity, inclusion, and equity
    • How can learning around diversity, equity and/or inclusion be represented in your course?
    • How might you represent your course’s contribution to these areas in the learning outcomes?
  • Student-designed outcomes
    • What do your students hope to get out of your course?
    • Can you ask students to write at least one learning outcome, individually or as a class?

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With your permission, examples may be used in future in-person faculty session(s).

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