Faculty Assessment Resources

Assessment Planning

We have a series of workshops to begin standardizing the assessment plans for the academic programs. The goal is that a written plan will aid the program in “closing-the-loop” in assessing all of their Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) over a five-year period. Workshops are offered bi-annually in January and May.

Material from the January 2020 Workshop

Assessment Reporting

Academic programs complete an Annual Report each year and submit it to the Director of Assessment by June 1. The Annual Report template is designed to capture evidence of student learning for internal reporting purposes as well as meeting the requirements of our regional accreditor.

Non-Teaching units in the area of Academic Affairs complete an Annual Report by June 1st and an action plan by June 1st.

Fitchburg State University conducts Program Review for academic programs without external accreditation every seven years. The process begins with a Program Review Workshop in the Spring semester prior to the writing of the Self-Study Report. Once the Self-Study Report is complete, an external reviewer is invited to campus in late spring of the self-study year to conduct an on-site visit. The faculty in the program will use the comments of the reviewer to create a five-year Action Plan for the program.

Program Review Cycle

  • 2019-20
    Environmental and Earth Science
    Geographic Science and Technology
    Industrial Technology
    Political Science
  • 2020-21
    Game Design
    Humanities (Interdisciplinary Studies)
    LA&S Review
  • 2021-22
    Occupational/Vocational Ed. Technology
  • 2022-23
    First Year Experience
  • 2023-24
    English Studies
  • 2024-25
    Criminal Justice
  • 2025-26
    Communications Media
    Educational Studies*
    Environmental Public Health*
    Exercise and Sports Science
    Mental Health Counseling
    Psychological Science
    *New programs as of 2019
  • 2026-27
    Environmental and Earth Science
    Geographic Science and Technology
    Industrial Technology
    Political Science
  • 2027-28
    Game Design
    Humanities (Interdisciplinary Studies)
    LA&S Review

Program Review Workshop

Program Review Documents

Student Learning Outcomes identify the knowledge, skills, or attitudes that students will be able to demonstrate, represent, or produce upon successful completion of an assignment, course, or program.

Student Learning Outcomes Assessment is a process wherein the institution engages in full circle closed loop assessment as described in the following graphic:

Successful Outcomes Assessment

  • Review the learning that takes place in your course.
  • Review syllabus and other course materials.
  • Prioritize that learning. Align learning priorities with key documents including program learning outcomes.
  • Review examples of learning outcomes from other sources such as similar courses or institutions.
  • Make sure all outcomes are measurable and can be assessed (see below for guidance in creating outcome statements).
  • After developing learning outcomes for your students develop an assessment instrument (a test, essay, or project, etc.) and a scoring rubric.
  • Administer the assessment to your students. 
  • Evaluate your students’ performance on the assessment instrument.
  • Assess your students’ mastery of the learning outcomes given their performance on the assessment instrument.
  • Reflect on why students did or did not master the learning outcomes, and develop strategies for improvement

Structure of Learning Outcomes Statements

The central element to learning outcomes assessment is the development of outcome statements. Begin with an action verb that denotes the level of learning expected. Terms such as know, understand, learn, appreciate are generally not specific enough to be measurable. Levels of learning and associated verbs may include the following:

  • Remembering and understanding: recall, identify, label, illustrate, summarize.
  • Applying and analyzing: use, differentiate, organize, integrate, apply, solve, analyze.
  • Evaluating and creating: Monitor, test, judge, produce, revise, compose.

Consult Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy for more details.

Continue with a Learning Statement – The statement should describe the knowledge and abilities to be demonstrated. For example:

  • Identify and summarize the important feature of major periods in the history of western culture.
  • Apply important chemical concepts and principles to draw conclusions about chemical reactions.
  • Demonstrate knowledge about the significance of current research in the field of psychology by writing a research paper.

Do the Learning Outcomes specify what all students who complete the assignment, course, or program should be able to complete?

Is each Learning Outcome stated from the perspective of the learner? Although we often use the terms goals, objectives, and outcomes interchangeably, Learning Outcomes reflect a student’s knowledge, skills, and abilities whereas goals shape the assignment, course, or program design.

Are the Learning Outcomes comprehensive, representative of both the depth and breadth of the assignment, course, or program? One of the challenges when constructing these statements is to capture the right level of specificity. Consider this Learning Outcome as a good outcome,

“By the end of the program, a student should be able to write a persuasive essay”

AAC&U VALUE Institute

Fitchburg State University has been participating in the AAC&U VALUE Institute national artifact collection and scoring since 2016. Our involvement includes the participation in the Massachusetts state-wide consortium of institutions in which our faculty providing a total of up to 100 artifacts aligned with the Critical Thinking VALUE Rubric (PDF). Faculty train as scorers and receive professional development via assignment design as part of their involvement in this initiative.

Upcoming Professional Development 2021-2022

(Details forthcoming on the following)
Equity and Assessment    
Assignment Design                 
Writing an Assessment Plan   
Writing an Assessment Report           

Professional Development Resource Videos:        

  • Assessment for Online Learning
  • Rubrics for Teaching and Learning

Professional Development and Resources on Assessment

Assessment - “Assessment is the systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development.” (Palomba & Banta, 1999)

Assessment Plan - A document that outlines the (1) program mission/goals,desired student learning outcomes (or objectives) and their relation to overarching (institutional priorities) and/or general educational outcomes, (2) learning processes (e.g., courses, activities, assignments) that contribute to students’ abilities reach the program’s outcomes (this may be shown in the form of a curriculum map), (3) and long-range timeline.

Assessment Report - The Annual Report template is designed to capture evidence of student learning for internal reporting purposes as well as meeting the requirements of our regional accreditor.

Closing the loop - Using assessment results for improvement and/or evolution.

Curriculum Map - A matrix showing the coverage of each program learning outcome in each course.

Direct Assessment - Collecting data/evidence on students’ actual behaviors or products. Direct data-collection methods provide evidence in the form of student products or performances. Such evidence demonstrates the actual learning that has occurred relating to a specific content or skill. (Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 2007). See also: Indirect Assessment.
Examples: exams, course work, essays, oral performance.
Focus Group - A qualitative data-collection method that relies on facilitated discussions, with 3-10 participants who are asked a series of carefully constructed open-ended questions about their attitudes, beliefs, and experiences. Focus groups are typically considered an indirect data-collection method.

Formative Assessment - Ongoing assessment that takes place during the learning process. It is intended to improve an individual student’s performance, program performance, or overall institutional effectiveness. Formative assessment is used internally, primarily by those responsible for teaching a course or developing and running a program. (Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 2007) See also: Summative Assessment.
Indirect Assessment - Collecting evidence/data through reported perceptions about student mastery of learning outcomes. Indirect methods reveal characteristics associated with learning, but they only imply that learning has occurred. (Middle States Commission on Higher Education) See also: Direct Assessment. Examples: surveys, interviews, focus groups.
Learning outcomes - Statements that identify the knowledge, skills, or attitudes that students will be able to demonstrate, represent, or produce as a result of a given educational experience. There are three levels of learning outcomes: course, program, and institution.
Rubric - A tool often shaped like a matrix, with criteria on one side and levels of achievement across the top used to score products or performances. Rubrics describe the characteristics of different levels of performance, often from exemplary to unacceptable. The criteria are ideally explicit, objective, and consistent with expectations for student performance.
Summative Assessment - The gathering of information at the conclusion of a course, program, or undergraduate/graduate career to improve learning or to meet accountability demands. The purposes are to determine whether or not overall goals have been achieved and to provide information on performance for an individual student or statistics about a course or program for internal or external accountability purposes. Grades are the most common form of summative assessment. (Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 2007) See also: Formative Assessment.
The above are in part adapted from University of Hawaii at Manoa glossary of assessment terms.