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Learning Outcomes Assessment Planning Guide

Assessment Planning Guide Steps


1. Defining Your Program and Learning Outcomes

2. Aligning Program Components with Learning Outcomes

3. Selecting and Implementing Assessment Methods

4. Using Evidence Gathered in Assessment


1. Defining Your Program and Expected Learning Outcomes
 

A)  CLEARLY STATE PROGRAM MISSION AND GOALS

  • Definition of a Program Mission
    The values and philosophy of the program, a vision of what the program is supposed to do. A mission statement might include a brief history and philosophy of the program, the type of students to be served, the academic environment and primary focus of the curriculum, faculty roles, the contributions to and connections with the community, the role of research, and a stated commitment to diversity and nondiscrimination. A program mission statement should be consistent with the Cal Poly mission statement LINK. (adapted from M. Allen, 2002).

  • Example One - Program Mission
    The mission of the department of ___________is to provide students with educational experiences and environment that promote the mastery of discipline knowledge and methods, the ability to succeed in discipline-related graduate programs and careers, and the skills and dispositions needed for citizenship in our diverse culture and the world.
  • Definition of Program Goals
    The general aims or purposes of the program and its curriculum. Effective goals are broadly stated, meaningful, achievable and assessable. Goals should provide a framework for determining the more specific educational objectives of a program and should be consistent with your program mission and the Cal Poly mission.

  • Example One - Program Goals
    - Understand and can apply fundamental concepts of the discipline.
    - Communicate effectively, both orally and in writing.
    - Conduct sound research.
    - Address issues critically and reflectively.
    - Create solutions to problems.
    - Work well with others.
    - Respect persons from diverse cultures and backgrounds.
    - Commitment  to open-minded inquiry and lifelong learning.

B) LISTING THE EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES FOR EACH GOAL

  • Definition of Educational objectives
    - The knowledge, skills, abilities, capacities, attitudes or dispositions you expect students to acquire in your program.
    - Educational objectives should be clearly stated, realistic and achievable.
    - They should meaningfully define the related goal, and, where possible, indicate desired level of attainment.
    - Educational objectives should be assessable.


  • Example One - Listing the educational objectives for each goal
    - Goal I. Understand and can apply fundamental concepts of the discipline.

    Educational Objectives connected to Goal I

    1. Demonstrate understanding of basic concepts in the following areas of the discipline: _______, _______, _________ and _________.

    2. Recognize the source(s) of major viewpoints in discipline.

    3. Apply concepts and/or viewpoints to a new question or issue.


  • Example Two - Listing the educational objectives for each goal
    - Goal VII. Respect persons from diverse cultures and backgrounds.

    Educational Objectives connected to Goal VII

    1. Interact positively with those from groups other than the student's own.

    2.  Entertain, empathetically, viewpoints from a variety of perspectives.

    3.  Demonstrate awareness of cultures and backgrounds other than the student's own.

C)   STATE CLEARLY THE LEARNING OUTCOMES YOU ARE SEEKING

  • Definition of Learning outcomes: are specific, observable behaviors evidenced by students who have achieved your educational objectives. Learning outcomes are stated operationally, and describe the observable evidence of a student's knowledge, skill, ability, attitude or disposition. State clearly each outcome you are seeking: How would you recognize it? What does it look like? What will the student be able to do?

  • Example One - Clearly stating the learning outcomes you are seeking
    Goal I. Understand and can apply fundamental concepts of the discipline.

    Educational Objectives connected to Goal I:
    1. Demonstrate understanding of basic concepts in the following areas of the discipline: _______, _______, _________ and _________.

    Learning outcomes evidencing Educational Objective I:

    Describe___________.
    Classify____________.
    Distinguish_________.
    Give examples of_____.
    Explain_____________.
    Interpret____________.

2. Aligning Program Components with Learning Outcomes

Identify program components that are designed to achieve each educational objective.

  • The curriculum and courses required by your program should be designed to meet your program goals and educational objectives. Clearly, students will not demonstrate the desired learning outcomes if your program components have not provided sufficient opportunity to develop them during coursework and related experiences. According to Mary Allen, "curricula should be structured to introduce key learning opportunities early and to reinforce this learning throughout."
  • The MATRIX is a tool commonly used to summarize the relationship between program components (curriculum, courses) and program goals and objectives (I = Introduced, P = Practiced, R = Reinforced):
MATRIX mapping program objectives to courses
Course Objective I Ojective II Objective III Objective IV Objective V
125 I        
170   I     I
225 P        
231     P   P
331     P   P
335     P   P
400 R       R
435     R   R
  • Note that this program formally introduces, consistently practices and reinforces just one objective, objective V.
  • Objective II is introduced, but never practiced or reinforced.
  • Objective III is never formally introduced.
  • Objective  IV is not included in the curriculum at all.
    (adapted from M. Allen, 2002, page 44)

3. Selecting and Implementing Assessment Methods

  • Understand that not every goal or educational objective can always be assessed, identify those that you prize most highly and that can be meaningfully measured.
  • Select methods or instruments for gathering evidence to show whether students have achieved the expected learning outcomes related to educational objectives and goals.

    A List of Assessment Methods is provided for reference.

4. Using Evidence Gathered in Assessment

  • Specify procedures for analyzing and interpreting the evidence gathered in assessment.

    It may be useful at this stage to form a small work group.  Determine before hand what form the raw data will be in for your work group to analyze.  Pay particular attention to maintaining anonymity to personal identifiers in teh data.  prior to scoring assessments, determine andy performance expectations

    If you are utilizing multiple assessment instruments, review the results for related parts that directly address your program goals and educational objectives.  Is there a relatinship between the findings?  Are they consistent, inconsistent, or at opposite ends of the spectrum?  Use the data to pinpoint the areas in your program that are achieving program goals and also areas of your program that warrant change for improvement.

  • Identify the means by which information that results from assessment can be used for decision-making, strategic planning, program evaluation, and program improvement.

    - How, exactly will your data be used to help with program planning and improvement? 
    - Will your program form a committee to review assessment findings, and make recommendations for change or improvement in a timely manner? 
    - Will your entire department convene to discuss assessment results and program changes? 
    - Who will make formal recommendations for curricular or other changes? 
    - Will it be the chair/head or the committee?

 

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