Academic Assessment Process

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), our regional accreditation body, requires colleges to document assessment of program student learning outcomes (LOs), including: (1) identifying expected program learning outcomes, (2) assessing the extent to which programs achieve these outcomes, and (3) documenting this continuous cycle of assessment results and planning and implementing improvements based on the analysis of the results. Programs are expected to act upon their assessment results and conclusions and make the indicated changes to improve learning. SACS calls this the feedback loop.

Workflow of the feedback loop.

Closing the Assessment Loop

  1. Develop, modify, or review a curriculum, course, program, or service.
  2. Develop or modify Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs).
  3. Design & Measure Student Learning as a result of the curriculum, course, or program.
  4. Collect, discuss, and analyze data.
  5. Determine refinements basede on outcomes data.
  6. Start back at step 1.

Program LOs should be specific results-oriented statements of intended student learning outcomes describing what program graduates should:

  1. know (knowledge and information).
  2. think (values, attitudes, disposition).
  3. do/apply (skills, performance).

Assessments used to assess program learning outcomes are frequently ungraded – for example a licensure exam, program exit exam, or an analysis of average class exam scores. When graded exams or performance assignments are used to assess program LOs they should be systematically assessed and matched to program LOs. It is also recommended that multiple measures of assessment be used, including direct assessments (licensure exams, capstone courses, major exams, and performance measures), and indirect assessments including surveys and focus groups (if related to the program LOs). Program assessment must be faculty driven. Faculty drive assessment by determining the most important program LOs for students to be successful in their careers, and they determine how LOs will be assessed. Additionally, to keep curriculum current, it is expected that program faculty will consult with Advisory Committees, businesses, industries, and agencies in the development and updating of LOs and assessments.

More information on program assessment methods and writing course learning outcomes can be found in the Aiken Technical College Teaching and Learning Library.

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