Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning (CATL)

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What You Will Find on this Page

  • Overview of assessment
  • List of supports for assessment available from the Assessment Coordinator
  • Links to other college and institutional level assessment sites for UWL
  • Links to some general assessment resource sites 

Assessment Overview

Assessment is the collection of information about students' learning and achievement of learning outcomes taking place within a course, across a major program, or over an entire institution's curriculum and the use of that information to improve the learning experience or to provide evidence to support current teaching strategies.  This information can come in the form of quantitative or qualitative data, from direct or indirect measures, for use in a summative or formative fashion.  While the primary focus of assessment is the improvement of learning, a secondary purpose can be to demonstrate accountability to interested stakeholders.  The effective use of assessment helps to meet this need for accountability as we can show the evidence for help students meet our intended learning outcomes and document the processes used for improvement. 

Support for Assessment through CATL and the Assessment Coordinator

The Assessment Coordinator, housed in the Office of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Planning, provides resources, opportunities, and consultation services for instructors seeking to improve student learning through use of assessment strategies via individual and group sessions.  In addition to individual faculty and group consultations, the Assessment Coordinator is tasked with the following in support of student learning assessment throughout the university:

  • Consultation with faculty groups and committees on all phases of student learning assessment (e.g., planning, implementation, data analysis, reporting)
  • Development of resource materials and presentations to help faculty and staff streamline and improve their classroom and program assessment practices
  • Coordination, administration, and reporting of university-wide assessment activities (e.g., Collegiate Learning Assessment, National Survey of Student Engagement)
  • Dissemination and communication of student learning assessment results to internal and external constituencies
  • Development and promotion of strategies using assessment results to foster educational improvement
  • Coordination, tracking, and projection of needed action related to assessment of student learning for accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission
  • Consultation to departments and programs about the assessment of student learning needed for their accreditation studies 

Please contact Dr. Patrick Barlow, Assessment Coordinator, for more information.

Levels of Assessment

Assessment occurs at many levels within the university setting.  These levels include institution-wide, program, course, and general education assessment. 

Institution-wide assessment captures information from larger scale processes that span multiple groups of students across the campus.  Some of the standardized tools included in this level are the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), and the Beginning College Student Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE).  Results are used to inform campus stakeholders of student participation in learning activities (NSSE),  their level of performance on academic skills (CLA), and their high school academic activities and expectations for their college experience (BCSSE).  

Program assessment occurs at the department level or unit level tied to specific academic majors/minors.  In this level, students enrolled in that program provide the data to understand if the specified learning outcomes are being met. These results are reflected on for possible improvements and reported on in the biennial assessment, academic program review (APR) process, and where appropriate, program accreditation reviews. 

Course based assessment focuses on the work of a faculty member investigating specific questions related to teaching strategies in his or her class.  This information may also be used in the program level or general education level.  As instructors continue to refine and improve their teaching,  the course based process can be valuable.  

General education assessment is unique in that it spans multiple courses across many departments.  Several sources of data from course embedded and institution wide tools are used to paint the picture of student performance on the learning outcomes.  Two faculty committees are involved in this level to help coordinate the process (General Education Assessment Committee) and review the results for curricular refinement (General Education Committee). 

Resources for Assessment at UW-La Crosse

Institution Wide Assessment of Student Learning

Assessment of Student Learning within General Education

Assessment within the Colleges, School of Education, and Murphy Library:

         College of Business Administration

         College of Science and Health

         School of Education

         Murphy Library


General Resources about Learning Outcomes Assessment 

National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

Association of American College and Universities

InsideHigherEd Assessment and Accountability News