Assessing Student Learning

The University of Delaware is committed to implementing and institutionalizing a University-wide student learning outcomes assessment program. The student outcomes assessment program has one central goal: to create a University of Delaware culture of continuous academic improvement that is focused upon student learning. Through the campus-wide student learning outcomes assessment program, academic units define clear, concise and measurable student learning outcomes, identify opportunities within and outside of the classroom and the curriculum for students to achieve those outcomes, apply measures to assess whether the desired outcomes are being achieved, and use the results of the assessment for decision-making that improves instruction, strengthens the curriculum, and forms the basis for policy development and resource allocations. To be successful, the program requires full faculty and department/school engagement in the design and practice of student learning outcomes assessment.

The focus is on assessing academic programs (undergraduate majors and minors, graduate and professional programs at the master’s and doctoral levels); course-level assessment will be necessary as a component of program assessment. The fundamental questions to be addressed by programs are:
1. Learning Outcomes/Goals: What do we want students to learn?
2. Metrics/Data/Evidence: How do we know what they are learning?
3. Closing the Loop: How can we modify our programs so students better learn what we want
them to learn?

A significant number of programs already have active academic assessment programs in
place because of external accreditation demands. These programs need not “reinvent the wheel” but should continue to ensure that their undergraduate majors are acquiring the GenEd objectives and share their results with the Center for Teaching & Assessment of Learning.

We must also address that the standards of general accreditation through our regional accreditor.  The Middle States Commission on Higher Education mandates formal assessment within all programs. It is a good idea for our own improvement, we are already doing it a various levels, and it is required by outside bodies.


Select Assessment Methods

Designing Multiple Choice Questions
Provides guidelines, tips, and examples for constructing effective multiple choice questions that measure different levels of student learning. Questions are constructed at various levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy:

  • Knowledge: Recognize, recall facts, principles, theories
  • Comprehension: Describe in one own’s words, provide examples
  • Application: Use material in new ways, apply concepts in practical situations to solve problems
  • Analysis: Break material into its components, drawing comparisons
  • Synthesis: Combine parts into a new whole
  • Evaluation: Judge or make a decision based on appropriate criteria

Publications re Accreditation and Student Learning – Middle States Commission on Higher Education (free online resource)
Highlights and a summary of the handbook, Student Learning Assessment: Options & Resources, 2003.

Outcomes Assessment

Internet Resources for Higher Education Outcomes Assessment, University Planning & Analysis, NC State University.
Outcomes Assessment Using assessment for academic program improvement, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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