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. Creating a comprehensive plan for assessing program-level outcomes (PDF) helps ensure that assessment of student learning is useful to the program, manageable for faculty, and documented for accreditation purposes. When assessment is not planned, it may be conducted at the last minute, using whatever information is easiest to gather, in order to satisfy administrative demands. This type of assessment is rarely useful to faculty.
Degree programs at FIT assess program learning outcomes annually. The sevenn programs in the School fo Business and Technology accredited by ACBSP have their own reporting process. All other programs submit annual reports, following a template (PDF), to the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness. Reports are due November 1st, 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.