Program assessment is an ongoing, transparent, deliberate, and evidence-based process used to measure and improve student learning. It holds our programs accountable to students, families, and policymakers. It can provide meaningful comparisons between institutions based on student learning and other metrics. It encourages effective innovation in education, and supports alignment of programs with the university mission and the needs of society.
Questions Answered by Assessment
Program assessment can take many forms, but the questions that it should strive to answer are the following:
- Do the learning objectives of the program meet disciplinary and degree standards?
- Are students consistently achieving the learning objectives of the program?
- Are students prepared for the workforce and society upon graduating?
- Is the program being run well?
Frequency of Assessment
Program assessment is required for all SJSU degree programs annually. The format of the assessment report can be downloaded from 2020 Annual Assessment Report template. Assessment reports are due on March 15 of each academic year, and should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scope of Assessment
The annual assessment report should cover a deliberate subset of the following areas of program assessment: soundness of program learning objectives, student achievement of program learning objectives, student preparedness upon graduation, and department operations, as well as action items from the latest program planning cycle. Ideally, an assessment schedule that cycles through all areas of program review is developed and followed. Example of assessment schedule
Program Learning Objectives/Outcomes (PLOs)
PLOs articulate the learning that should be achieved by the graduates of the program. For help authoring or updating them, please refer to guidelines for preparing Student Learning Outcomes or Suggestions for PLOs.
Students in the program should be aware of and be knowledgeable of the PLOs. Suggestions include posting them on your website, listing them on your syllabi, or presenting/discussing them in an appropriate required course(s). As we collect best practices in this area, some examples of emerging efforts are listed below:
- PLO/Assessment description on website (MARA)
- PLO/Assessment description on website (MLIS)
- Presentation in required class(ChemE)
- PLO Listing on greensheets(Kin)
- PLO Listing on website(UrbP)
Assessing PLOs (Program Learning Outcomes)
PLOs should be assessed using direct assessment methods which will vary depending on the nature of the information sought and program being assessed. While the exact methods used are for the program faculty to decide, some suggestions and ideas are listed in Suggestions for Assessing PLOs.
If your program assessment requires feedback from alumni, employer and/or an advisory board, a survey could be administered. Please contact the IEA office for assistance in administering surveys.
- Sample alumni survey (OT)
- Sample alumni survey (ENG)
- Sample employer survey (OT)
- Sample employer survey (ENG)
Assessing Department Operations
Indirect measures of student success such as graduation and retention rates, enrollment, and student-to-faculty ratio can be downloaded from the IEA website. This data can used to address questions regarding the demand for a program, the efficiency in which students progress towards a degree, and other programs served. A student exit survey is also appropriate here to get feedback on student experience and various areas of department operations.
Closing the Loop
Closing the loop on assessment refers to deliberate actions taken to improve and evaluate program improvements, or to an affirmation that a practice, course, or program is effective. The action plan from the previous program planning review should be addressed here, in addition to other areas requested by the annual assessment template or those that may be revealed during the annual assessment process. Propose a change to instruction, assignment, or policy. Implement it. Look at the next round of data and assess improvement. Repeat if necessary.
- Binder from WASC Workshop 10/1/14: Assessment 101
- Departmental Assessment, B. Walvoord, U Notre Dame
- Effective Grading for Assessment, B. Walvoord and V.J. Anderson
- Partly-Automated Evaluation and Assessment of Written Narratives, W. Smith
- Using VALUE Rubrics for Improvement of Learning, T. Rhodes and A. Finley
- AAC&U webpage: LEAP Outcomes and VALUE rubrics
- WASC Rubrics (program review, portfolios, general ed, capstones, PLOs)
- More Rubrics on the Internet
- Binder from WASC Workshop 10/23/13: Assessment 101
- Binder from WASC Workshop 10/24/13: Quantitative Reasoning (download page)
- Considerations in Interpreting Data, J. Rhee
- Tracking PLOs in Canvas (video 13:55), J. Rhee
- Entering PLO data in Canvas without using it for instruction (video 11:24), J. Rhee
Submitting Annual Reports
Annual assessment reports should be submitted to email@example.com by March 15 of every year.