Student learning outcomes are either specific to the course or to the program. At the course level, instructors usually give tests, projects, and other assignments that allow them to evaluate aspects of student learning, and make adjustments to their courses. At the program level, the faculty assess evidence of student learning in the program, and use the results to make adjustments to the curriculum and to enhance the program.
The assessment cycle model provides a framework programs can use to consider, in a systematic manner, how they know their students are learning. This framework focuses on five areas of inquiry:
- Learning Outcomes: What will your graduates learn and achieve?
- Curriculum: Where in the curriculum will they learn and achieve what you want them to do?
- Assessment: How and when will students show their learning and achievements? What assessment do you use?
- Analysis of Results: What is your analysis and your conclusion about the results of evaluations?
- Program Enhancement: How will you use these results to make changes in the curriculum to enhance your program?
While the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges (SACS), assessment practices at UT Knoxville extend beyond SACS. Assessment occurs at course, departmental, college, and institutional levels, and includes many other accreditation agencies and our own practices of assessment.
The “assessment movement” has changed many institutions of higher education as we strive to show the quality of our programs in a visible way to internal and external constituents. There are many resources to support the assessment work of your programs or in your classroom:
- The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment provides information on assessment at UT, and support for accreditation of your program.
- The Teaching and Learning Center’s resource for course-based assessment (summative and formative)
- National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment’s Resource Library
Do you have a question about programmatic assessment? Contact Janelle Coleman, TLC’s Faculty Consultant on Assessment, at firstname.lastname@example.org.