Share

Instructions for Developing Assessment Plan

Instructions for developing a plan to assess and improve your undergraduate programs.

Step 1. Identify program learning goals

Goals are general statements about what you hope your students will gain from your undergraduate program or major. They serve as the purpose toward which specific classroom and other activities are directed and do not necessarily need to be measurable.  They are often accomplished during a longer-term time frame.

Each department should develop 3-5 program learning goals for each undergraduate degree program in their department. Many departments included both learning goals and objectives in their 2009 departmental strategic plan.  The College Assessment Team in late 2009 recommended changing the terminology used in the 2009 plans from “program competencies” to “program learning goals” and “learning objectives” to align our college terminology with that used by the Schreyer Institute, the unit that supports Penn State’s assessment of learning outcomes.

Step 2: Identify program learning objectives

Objectives are specific statements with an action verb and content reference. These specific classroom and other activities are intended to help you reach your program learning goals. They must be measurable and have a short- to medium-term time frame during which they should be accomplished.

In assessment, there are three main types of objectives – knowledge, attitudes and skills.

  • When writing knowledge objectives, you are trying to define the main concepts (e.g., theoretical principles) that students know when they graduate.
  • When writing skill objectives, you are trying to describe the larger skills (e.g., problem solving) that students have gained by the time they graduate.
  • Finally, attitudinal objectives usually describe beliefs about the nature of the field or perceptions about interdisciplinary connections (e.g., ethics).

A list of sample action verbs for each type of learning objective may be found in the Appendix.

Step 3: Align Courses with Program Goals and Objectives

Each course in the curriculum should be linked to at least one program objective. Some courses will be associated with more than one objective. It may help to create a table or matrix so that you easily can see how goals, objectives and courses are linked.

Step 4: Document evidence

Program faculty and staff should make decisions together about what courses will provide evidence to use to determine how well students are meeting learning goals and program objectives. If the major includes a capstone course it is often used as one from which to select a sample of student work for assessment.  However, all programs should include a mix of direct and indirect evidence.

  • Direct evidence typically includes examples of students’ work from courses or other scholarly activities. Information about grades as sources of evidence.
  • Indirect evidence is information about widespread use of teaching and learning strategies that enhance student learning in the program and as these strategies help you attain your program goals, such as retention, graduation and job placement statistics, student and alumni perception surveys, participation in internships and study abroad programs, etc.

Step 5: Conduct assessments and use the results for improvement

The evidence gathered (data) will be used to improve course offerings in terms content, delivery strategies, learning experiences provided, assignments, and learning outcomes. The evidence collected from individual courses or a group of courses in a specific major will be shared with faculty and undergraduate program coordinators to make course improvements as they offer the courses next time or semester. In addition, this tool can also be used mid-semester to make changes and/or improvements to course offerings. As indicated earlier the goal of this effort is to enhance the curriculum to improve student learning.

Use this example of a program assessment plan as a guide for developing your plan. Then identify the approach you will use to incorporate the results into curricular enhancement.

Program Assessment Example

Example from Agricultural and Extension Education

Appendix - Sample Action Verbs

Sample action verbs for each type of learning objective. Adapted from Blooms Taxonomy Verbs.

Knowledge

Comprehension

Application

Analysis

Synthesis

Evaluation

(Remember)

(Understand)

(Apply)

(Analyze)

(Evaluate)

(Create)

Count

Define

Describe

Draw

Label

List

Match

Name

Outline

Point

Quote

Read

Recall

Recite

Recognize

Record

Repeat

Reproduce

Select

State

Write

Memorize

Arrange

Duplicate

Order

Relate

Tabulate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Associate

Classify

Compute

Contrast

Convert

Defend

Describe

Differentiate

Discuss

Distinguish

Estimate

Explain

Extend

Extrapolate

Generalize

Give examples

Infer

Identify

Indicate

Interpret

Locate

Paraphrase

Predict

Report

Restate

Review

Rewrite

Translate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add

Apply

Calculate

Change

Choose

Classify

Complete

Compute

Demonstrate

Discover

Divide

Employ

Examine

Experiment

Graph

Interpolate

Manipulate

Modify

Operate

Perform

Practice

Prepare

Produce

Relate

Research

Organize

Schedule

Service

Show

Sketch

Solve

Subtract

Translate

Troubleshoot

Use

Utilize

Write

 

 

 

Analyze

Application

Appraise

Breakdown

Calculate

Categorize

Combine

Compare

Connect

Contrast

Criticize

Design

Detect

Diagram

Differentiate

Discriminate

Distinguish

Examine

Experiment

Explain

Infer

Outline

Point out

Question

Relate

Select

Separate

Subdivide

Test

Utilize

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arrange

Assemble

Categorize

Collect

Combine

Compile

Compose

Construct

Create

Design

Develop

Devise

Drive

Explain

Formulate

Generalize

Generate

Group

Integrate

Invent

Formulate

Manage

Modify

Order

Organize

Plan

Prepare

Prescribe

Propose

Rearrange

Reconstruct

Relate

Reorganize

Revise

Rewrite

Setup

Specify

Substitute

Summarize

Transform

Appraise

Arbitrate

Argue

Assess

Attach

Award

Choose

Compare

Conclude

Contrast

Convince

Core

Criticize

Critique

Decide

Defend

Determine

Discriminate

Evaluate

Explain

Grade

Interpret

Judge

Justify

Measure

Predict

Prioritize

Rank

Rate

Recommend

Referee

Reject

Select

Summarize

Support

Test

Value

 

 

 

Content for this handout has been adapted from resources available on websites managed and maintained by the Schreyer Institute.