Assessment Techniques and Activities


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The following are examples of techniques and activities that can be used to collect evidence of student learning in the major. To discuss these examples or any other ideas for outcomes assessment, please contact

To add an example to the list, please send e-mail to Jeff Adams

  • Conduct focus group interviews with students at different levels of the major to obtain student feedback on advising, courses, and curriculum.
  • Collect and review portfolios of students' work from several courses taken throughout the major.
  • Conduct pre- and post-testing of student knowledge in a capstone course.
  • Develop a checklist and rating scale for expected knowledge and skills. Have three faculty use these tools to evaluate major works such as senior projects, theses, and dissertations. Although many of these undertakings receive an "A" grade, reviewing content for specific knowledge and skills may reveal areas which, although acceptable, are consistently below expectations.
  • Evaluate videotapes of students' skills, such as student teaching or making class presentations.
  • Invite outside examiners from business, industry, and the professions to provide feedback on students' presentations or projects.
  • Assign a research/creative project to be evaluated by several faculty members.
  • Administer the ACAT, CLEP, MFAT, or a locally-developed proficiency examination to test factual knowledge in the major.
  • Administer a nationally normed, general education exam such as College BASE, ACT COMP, or CAAP, or develop one specifically tailored to institutional objectives.
  • Conduct telephone surveys of students who left the major.
  • Evaluate student performance in internships, practica, student teaching, etc., from the student's perspective, the faculty member's perspective, and the supervisor's perspective.
  • Use "real-world" assignments such as case studies, in-basket exercises, recitals, and exhibits to evaluate whether students can integrate knowledge and skills developed throughout their progress in the major.
  • Analyze performance on licensure and qualifying examinations for professional or graduate school.
    • Try to get detailed information about performance from different areas of the examination
    • Remember the percent passing is an accountability number; it does not relate to program improvement. Bragging about a high pass rate does nothing to improve the program. Program improvement comes by focusing on the failures, determining why they failed, and taking steps to correct any problems identified.
  • Attach a short survey to forms required for graduation to capture feedback from students about to graduate. If you have a one-year-out alumni survey, avoid asking redundant questions of these two similar groups.
  • Conduct exit interviews with graduating seniors, either individually or in focus groups, or ask for written evaluations of how well the major met their personal goals.
  • Survey alumni.
  • Ask questions which relate to program objectives
  • Ask questions in such a way that the responses can be tracked back to program or curricular improvement
  • Administer the survey to a test group to see how long it takes and to determine whether those students interpreted the questions as intended
  • Consider the relationship between the length of time since graduation and the types of questions asked; career-related questions will provide very different information one year after graduation than five years after
  • Survey employers of alumni.
  • Determine whether you want general information about "our graduates" or specific information about "this graduate"
  • Make the survey short and pertinent
  • Recognize that the response rate is likely to be low
  • Consider the possibility of focus groups with employers
  • Evaluate students' written and oral communication skills in presenting their senior projects.
  • Design one or two final exam questions to capture cumulative learning in the major and provide an in-depth assessment.
  • Compare student writing samples from courses at different levels to assess student progress in writing.
  • Assign students to cooperative working groups and evaluate the group project as well as group interaction and productivity.
  • Maintain copies of student coursework to compare across course sections.
  • When scoring writing samples, develop a scoring rubric and look for reliability across raters. Often the most meaningful outcome from this exercise is a common understanding among faculty of what constitutes good or poor writing.
  • Remember--you can use samples!