Student Learning Assessment within the Major

Annual Assessment of Program Learning Outcomes

Program learning outcomes are assessed annually for each degree. It is not necessary to assess each outcome every year; rather, a program should comprehensively assess all outcomes in a three or four year period. Many programs develop assessment methods that become part of annual practices. After the initial development of the method, the assessment becomes less time consuming to plan and implement. For example, a number of programs assess student work in capstone classes with a rubric that is aligned with program learning outcomes and often used for grading as well. Faculty ratings on the rubric can then be compared between different cohorts. The Executive Director of Assessment is available for consultation to develop assessment methods that build on practices programs already have in place and can be easily implemented. 

Degree programs at FIT assess program learning outcomes annually. The seven programs in the Baker School of Business and Technology accredited by ACBSP have their own reporting process. All other programs submit annual reports, following an annual assessment report template (pdf), to the Office of Academic and Administrative Assessment.

Reports are due November 1, based on assessment conducted during the previous academic year. Since most programs assess final projects at the end of the spring, this schedule allows faculty to discuss results when they return in the fall and make plans for using the results before the report is due. 

Why don’t grades count as assessment?

Doesn’t the course grade already demonstrate that a student has met the course learning outcomes? While a grade is a global indicator as to how one student performed in a course, it does not directly indicate which learning goals the student has achieved. A grade of “B,” for example, may indicate that a student met most goals but not all. Even an “A” grade does not necessarily mean that a student achieved all the instructor’s learning goals, since course assignments may only partially represent underlying learning outcomes.

Grades are often partly based on behavior like course attendance and participation. Similarly, overall GPAs do not indicate whether specific program outcomes are being achieved. If program students have an average GPA of 3.5, what does that tell us about the overall strengths and weaknesses of learning in that program? Program learning is cumulative, so students’ performances in individual classes do not necessarily demonstrate whether students are building and integrating their learning as program faculty intended.

Templates for Assessment Planning and Reporting Results

» Creating an Assessment Plan (pdf)

» Annual Assessment Report Template (pdf)