At the program level, like the institution level, assessment of student learning is consistent with and integral to Columbia College’s mission. Each program has developed an assessment plan using multiple quantitative and qualitative measures for direct assessment of student learning early, mid-way and late in the program. This information can be used to innovate and improve learning.
The program-level assessment cycle
1. Identifying student learning goals
Program-level learning goals address content, skills and values that the students in the major should learn and develop. These goals are the “big ideas,” “organizing principles” or “essential understandings” within each discipline that form a unifying structure for all additional knowledge. Once these fundamental learning goals are defined, they should be converted into measurable outcome statements to facilitate assessment.
2. Aligning goals with courses
Faculty collaborate to determine which courses should be used to show that students are achieving the program’s goals and learning outcomes.
3. Gathering evidence of student learning
Evidence at the program level is gathered in early, mid-level and capstone courses. This longitudinal view of student assessment will eventually enable faculty to find out how much learning is provided to students who participate in the programs.
4. Interpreting evidence of learning
Full-time faculty members interpret the data collected from courses in their programs to determine whether students are meeting the program-level outcomes.
5. Using evidence to improve learning
Program-level evidence should be used to improve both the program and student learning. This evidence should also confirm the purpose of the program (e.g., its place in the entire curriculum and its connection to the college’s institutional-learning goals and mission). Faculty can use data to determine alignment of the program’s design and how well the program, from its beginning to end, fosters cumulative learning of the desired outcomes. Evidence can also be used to identify redundant and/or missing curricular elements in the program.
Note: This assessment cycle has been adapted from Georgetown University.