Guidelines for Program Assessment
Developing an Assessment Plan for Your Program

The following "Ten Step Plan" was developed by the National Center for Postsecondary Teaching, Learning and Assessment (NCTLA) at Pennsylvania State University. It is reproduced by permission of NCTLA.

What is the educational purpose of the assessment plan?

  1. Why are you doing assessment?
  2. Who is being assessed?
  3. What is being assessed?
  4. When will the assessment take place?

Who are the audiences to whom the plan is to communicate?

  1. What kind of message statement would you give to each audience?
  2. What medium would you use to transmit the message?

What are your assessable education goals?

  1. What is to be learned? (content, abilities, values, and attitudes)
  2. What level of learning is expected? (criteria and standards or indicators of achievement)
  3. What is the context in which the learning takes place? (application or environment)

What are the educational criteria and experiences for each goal?

  1. What criteria for goal attainment indicate content mastery and/or performance level acceptable for program completion?
  2. What are the specific educational experiences in the curriculum and extracurriculum that enable students to attain the goal?

What are the indicators and/or measures of goal attainment?

What are the standards and levels of performance for each indicator or measure?

  1. How do you see when a student has achieved the knowledge, skill, or ability the goal seeks to impart?
  2. What is the implicit criteria you are using to judge whether a student has achieved a given level of knowledge or skill proficiency?
  3. What are the mediating or moderating factors that enter into your judgment about individual students?
  4. What do you do when a student does not develop the desired level of performance?

What assessments do you use to measure entering and completing students?

How and when do you interpret and report assessment results to your audiences?

What is your plan for revision of criteria, measures and methods?

What are your strategies for changes in the curriculum, faculty development, out-of-class learning experiences?

What institutional characteristics should be selected to best inform the relevant audiences about the quality and effectiveness of your institution?

For each characteristic selected, how are six major issues addressed?

  1. Relevance to mission
  2. Potential audiences
  3. Potential uses
  4. Acceptable data/evidence
  5. Analysis/interpretation
  6. Logistics

AAHE Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning

  1. The assessment of student learning begins with educational values.
  2. Assessment is most effective when it reflects an understanding of learning as multidimensional, integrated, and revealed in performance over time.
  3. Assessment works best when the programs it seeks to improve have clear, explicitly stated purposes.
  4. Assessment requires attention to outcomes but also and equally to the experiences that lead to those outcomes.
  5. Assessment works best when it is ongoing, not episodic.
  6. Assessment fosters wider improvement when representatives from across the educational community are involved.
  7. Assessment makes a difference when it begins with issues of use and illuminates questions that people really care about.
  8. Assessment is most likely to lead to improvement when it is part of a larger set of conditions that promote change.
  9. Through assessment, educators meet responsibilities to students and to the public.
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