Assessment Resources

Assessment Resources Graphic Transparency FrameworkFaculty assessment of student learning is an important activity.  There are resources available to assist instructors with this work.  These are organized below based on the kind of assessment work that is being completed with additional information about assessment focused academic organizations, conferences, and publications also posted.  If there are any questions you have or additional needs not answered by content on this page,  please contact  Dr. Patrick Barlow, University Assessment Coordinator.  

Resources for Conducting Assessment

University Wide Assessment expanding section

What is University-Wide Assessment?

University Wide Assessment is the collection of information from across multiple groups of students to help to understand the impacts of the university experience on student learning.  It stands alongside more specific, program focused or course based approaches as means to measure more general expected results of attending college. 

What methods or tools are used to conduct University-Wide assessment?

Three main tools have been used to capture information at the university level.  These include the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the College Learning Assessment (CLA), and the Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE).  Each tool has a different focus. Review the links below to learn more about each tool.  See the Evidence of Student Learning Page for the results reports from these tools. 

What resources exist to help me understand University Wide Assessment?

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) assesses college students' involvement in curricular activities that are associated with academic achievement.  The NSSE is based on extensive research that shows that "the time and energy college students devote to educationally purposeful activities is the single best predictor of their learning and personal development.  Examples of how college use NSSE results to make changes can be found here in their Lessons from the Field series. 

The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) analyzes students' written responses to a set of tasks that include analyzing complex materials to produce a response to a work like issue (Performance Task) or alternatively to a set of written arguments in which the student must both produce a logical argument related to prompt and then critique an argument presented to them to indicate its flaws

The Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE) assesses the high school experiences and expectations for college held by students who have been admitted to UW-La Crosse but not yet attended during the summer before entry.  This tool is designed to capture information that helps staff understand the concerns students bring to their first year of college and their evaluation of how they might address difficulties, what they expect the college experience will provide them, and how they plan to use their time related to a number of activities (i.e. studying, socializing, working, co-curricular events

If you have additional questions about university-wide assessment, please contact Dr. Patrick Barlow, University Assessment Coordinator.  

General Education Assessment expanding section

What is General Education Assessment?

The assessment of the General Education program involves the collection of information from each course in the program that is then combined with some university level information to gauge the impact of the program to help students achieve the six general education program learning outcomes. 

How is Assessment Conducted for the General Education program?

Data is collected at the course level and reviewed by the General Education Assessment Committee (GEAC).  Their reports are sent to the General Education Committee (GEC) for review.  Information about the General Education assessment process and policies is available on the Faculty Senate WebsiteAlso, information specific to the use of the Taskstream tool for General Education assessment is located at the Taskstream Information Page. See below for language about the major steps to the process and a process graphic.

What Resources exist to help me understand General Education Assessment?

The policies and rationale for the course embedded process can be found on the Faculty Senate website.  For the information on how to use the Taskstream system to submit plans, results and action steps related to general education assessment please find connect to this page.

Major Steps to the Course Embedded Assessment Process

1. Assessment Timing Survey: Due during the spring before the start of a new assessment cycle (in even years)

a. For each course, the offering department completes a survey that indicates:

1. the semesters during which the course will be offered
2. the year when it will be assessed; and
3. which of the six GE Program SLOs will be assessed.
Note: Departments are free to assess each course during any semester and year they choose within the two-year cycle. Departments may also choose to assess more than once within the biennium.

b. The summary of the GE Assessment Survey is submitted to GEAC, and accepted if complete.

c. GEC will send Assessment Plan Survey results back to the Chairs for review one year after their submission. Any changes should be noted on a revised GE Assessment Plan Survey and returned to GEC/GEAC. If the revision results in a Department or Program becoming non-compliant with any GE Assessment Policies, a waiver must be requested from GEC.

2. Assessment Plan (Task & Rubric):

a. Due by October 1 of the academic year of assessment

b. The department writes a course-specific SLO that aligns with one of the six GE SLOs.

c. The department develops an assessment task to assess the course-specific SLO.

d. The department develops an assessment rubric to classify all students in all sections of the course with respect to the course-specific SLO, based on their performance on the task into five levels of performance (exemplary, proficient/more than satisfactory, competent/satisfactory, underdeveloped/less than satisfactory, unsatisfactory). For assessment rubrics which will require a great deal of time to evaluate, classifying the performance of a random subsample of students may be appropriate; this approach should be described in detail in the Assessment Plan (Task & Rubric).

e. These items are documented for purposes of General Education Program Assessment by submission to GEAC on the Assessment Plan (Task & Rubric). GEAC must review and approve the Assessment Plan (Task & Rubric) prior to the implementation of the assessment.

3. Assessment Findings (Results) and Operational Plan (Action Steps);

a. Due by July 1 of the academic year of assessment

b. The department assigns the task to all students in all sections of the course.

c. The department uses the rubric to classify students' performance on the task.

d. The department analyzes the results and indicates whether changes to curricula, pedagogy, assessment task, or assessment rubric are warranted.

e. These items are documented for purposes of General Education Program Assessment by submission to GEAC in Taskstream in the Assessment Findings (Results) and Operational Plan (Action Steps) areas.

4. Status Report (Update on Actions):

a. Due by July 1 the year following the Assessment Findings (Results) and Operational Plan (Action Steps) submission

b. The department documents any changes that were actually made to curricula, pedagogy, assessment task or assessment rubric. This Status Report (Update on Actions) must directly address the analysis and action included on Assessment Findings (Results) and Operational Plan (Action Steps) submissions.


Gen Ed Assessment Process Graphic Oct 2016

Program/Course Assessment expanding section

What is Program Assessment?

Program assessment is the collection of information to understand how students are meeting the learning outcomes for a specific academic program (e.g. major, minor, concentration, certificate). It may involve securing data from the variety of courses and other experiences a program offers to help meet the learning outcomes.  It’s important to note the following.

  1. The university requires program assessment to be conducted.
  2. Departments/programs are reviewed by an external consultant (every seven years) or accreditation body (dependent on the organization's cycle) in conjunction with a university-level review.
  3. Assessment plans and their results are a component of Academic Program Review and are reviewed by that faculty senate committee. 

What is Course Assessment? 

Course assessment involves the collection of information at the course level by an instructor to help understand how students learn the content (knowledge, skills, dispositions) of a course.  This typically is for the improvement of the course itself and distinct from the program and general education assessment processes.  

Assessment Toolkit expanding section
Assessment Activity  Helpful Resources

Writing Meaningful Learning Outcomes

Guide to Writing SLOs from Kansas State Website 

Writing Learning Outcomes (Objectives) from Carnegie Mellon University Eberly Teaching Center

Two Page Guide on Writing SLOs from US Naval Academy

CATL presentation on Writing Measureable Objectives

Understanding my Curriculum through Maps/Matrices

Curriculum Mapping & Design - Carleton University

Steps, Guides, and Rationale for Curriculum Mapping - Southern Conn. State University

Examples of Curriculum Maps  (Simple - Viterbo Univ.)   (Complex - Southern Conn. State Univ.)

Narrated Video on Maps from University of Kentucky

Presentation on Maps - Murray State Univ. 

Selecting Measures of Learning/Assessment Methods

Choosing Assessment Measures - Univ. of Hawaii- Manoa

Advice on Selection of Assessement Measures -Loyola Marymount Univ.

Handout on Direct and Indirect Assessment Tools

Narrated Video on Methods from California State- Long Beach

Setting Benchmarks or Performance Targets

Setting Performance Targets - Gallaudet University

Presentation - U.S. Naval Academy 

Why set targets for assessment results blog- Linda Suskie

Using Results to Plan Actions to Improve Learning

Analyzing Results and Taking Actions - Long Beach City College

Univ. Northern Iowa -On Using Assessment Information Guide 

Ball State Univ. Handbook Ch 12 Analyzing, Interpreting, Communication, and Acting on Assessment Results

NILOA Monograph on Using Assessment Results

Narrated Video on Using Results - Murray State Univ.

Using Taskstream to Report on Assessment Activities

UW La Crosse Taskstream Portal and Training Guides

Watermark Website (Parent Company of Taskstream)

UWL Assessment Commons Terminology Guide

Common Grounds Assessment Terminology Guide


Assessment Related Organizations, Conferences, Publications expanding section