University-Wide Assessment

The university collects assessment information at the campus-level in order to: 

  • Understand our students' campus experience
  • Measure our students' levels of engagement in meaningful learning activities
  • Study our students' ability to demonstrate specific college-level skills  


UW-La Crosse has made regular use of two nationally recognized tools, the National Survey of Student Engagement and the Collegiate Learning Assessment, in our efforts to understand and improve student learning. The results of these measures are utilized by faculty and staff to make decisions about how we can help students learn more effectively, what programming to offer, and the best structure for the general education curriculum.

National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)

The  National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)  assesses college students' involvement in curricular activities that are associated with academic achievement as well as their perceptions of the campus environment.  UWL is able to compare our results with three groups including our UW Peer Comprehensive Institutions, our IPEDs Aspirant Group of similar schools across the nation, and the overall national sample of schools from the past two years.  The university participated on a three year cycle, most recently in Spring 2017.

More information about UWL's past performance on the NSSE can be found by reading the following executive summaries:

In addition to these campus level reports,  customized NSSE reports related to specific departments or units on campus or specific questions of interest can be created.  Please contact the Assessment Coordinator for more information. 

Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE)

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. UW-La Crosse administered the BCSSE most recently in the summer of 2014 during first year registration.  The initial standard report is shared below and a summary of highlights is being prepared.  If you have questions about this measure, please contact the Assessment Coordinator.

Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA)

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.  Students' abilities to think critically, reason analytically, solve problems, and communicate clearly and cogently are assessed by these tasks.  More information about UWL's performance on the CLA can be found by reading the following executive summaries:

For additional information concerning CLA or NSSE assessment at UWL, contact University Assessment Coordinator Dr. Patrick Barlow.

General Education Assessment

The assessment of student learning across the general education program is conducted at the course and university level.  Several data sources are used to present the overall pattern of achievement of the program's student learning outcomes.  The General Education Assessment Committee (GEAC) reviews and manages the course level assessment process providing summary reports each year.  The General Education Committee (GEC) is responsible for the overall course structure and review of student learning within the program.  The GEC members review the GEAC reports and other assessment information on a regular basis.  

Student Learning Outcomes

It is the University's vision that the core curriculum encourages students to demonstrate knowledge and abilities relating to:

  • Human Cultures and the Natural World
  • Critical and Creating Thinking
  • Aesthetic Perspectives and Meaning
  • Effective Communication
  • Interaction in Intercultural Contexts
  • Individual, Social, and Environmental Responsibility



Course Embedded Process

Each instructor of a course in the general education program assesses students' achievement of the learning outcomes the course is designed to support. Each department chair or program coordinator submits a plan for when each general education course offered by that department will be assessed over the next two year cycle. During the year that assessment of a course will take place, the assessment tasks and associated rubrics that will be used are submitted by faculty in early fall to the General Education Assessment Committee (GEAC). The GEAC then reviews the tasks and rubrics for alignment with the outcomes and usability. If a task or rubric needs revision, it is returned to the appropriate faculty member and then resubmitted. Once approved, the instructors then move forward with implementing the task and rubric, reviewing results, and identifying ways to incorporate the information back into the course. A summary of the results and analysis is reported back to the GEAC at the end of that same academic year in the summer. Then, after implementing any proposed changes,  a second report is filed with the GEAC documenting the impact of those changes a year later in the summer. The GEAC produces summaries of each of the submissions and reports them to the General Education Committee.  


University Level Process

Relevant items from the National Survey of Student Engagement reported to the General Education Committee. (See the University Wide Assessment Tab for more information on this tool). NSSE results are added to the direct information from the course level process to portray the nature of student achievement of the outcomes. The NSSE is administered on a cyclical basis approximately every three years. Reports are prepared by the Assessment Coordinator that combine the University Level data with Course embedded data for review by the General Education Committee.

More information about the General Education assessment process available on the Faculty Senate Website.  Information on how to submit course assessment information in the Taskstream system is available on this webpage  Taskstream Portal.

Program and Course Assessment


Program Assessment

All academic departments and programs conduct program assessment to better understand how student learning is taking place within each program and how it might be improved or sustained. Assessment of student learning is also an expectation for the Academic Program Review process and many external accreditors of our degree programs. The effort is a shared task among the faculty members in the department or program.  The collection, analysis, and use of the results by departments and programs is reported on and reviewed via multiple interwoven processes.

  1. The university requires program assessment to be conducted. 
  2. Programs/Departments report their assessment efforts using the Taskstream Assessment System in which plans are entered in year 1 and final reports are entered by year 3 of a 3 year cycle.  
  3. The Ad-hoc University Program Assessment Committee reviews these final report and planning submissions and provides feedback on them. 
  4. 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.
  5. The Undergraduate and Graduate Academic Program Review Committees reviews program assessment practices on a 7 year cycle along with multiple other facets of program operations. 

This graphic represents the intended cycle of program assessment activities over the three years.  For the fall of 2016, note we are at the end of a reporting period for about half of the programs.  The same programs will start the next 3 year cycle in spring 2017.  

Start of cycle

Year 1 Spring Semester

  • Provost/Deans send reminder of Plan submission date
  • Program/Dept submits Assessment Plan in Taskstream by Feb 15
  • UPAC reviews and provides feedback by April 1
  • Program/Dept incorporates feedback and enacts plan



Spring Year 1 to Fall Year 3

  • Program/Dept enacts plan
  • Entering Assessment Results as available
  • Discussing and creating Action Plans (i.e. changes to curriculum, SLOs, courses as indicated by results)
  • Enters Action Plan Status Reports as improvement actions are completed
End of cycle

Fall Semester Year 3

  • Program reviews all information and ensures final submission to UPAC for review by October 15
  • UPAC gets access to information and completes review by Dec 1

Taskstream and Program Assessment Reporting

Program assessment activities are captured and reported in the Taskstream assessment system. Programs keep current versions of their student learning outcomes, a curriculum map, and enter their assessment measures, results, and improvement actions in the Taskstream template. Resources are available to assist faculty with this work and are located this webpage: Taskstream Portal

Academic programs have been split into two cohorts for reporting purposes.  See this list for information on the cohorts and activities for 2018-19.  List of Program Assessment Cohorts 

For process questions or those about the use of Taskstream, please contact Dr. Patrick Barlow, Assessment Coordinator.

Course Assessment

Individual faculty members are also active in the assessment of learning outcomes specific to their individual courses. This process may or may not feed directly into the process used for the major or program as instructors may often designate learning outcomes in their courses that reside as separate from either general education or program specific outcomes. Faculty may also desire to assess newly designed courses or use of new teaching strategies through this level of assessment. Assistance for course specific assessment is available from through Dr. Patrick Barlow, Assessment Coordinator.

For more information concerning programmatic and course assessment, contact University Assessment Coordinator Dr. Patrick Barlow .

Assessment Resources

To further assist instructors with assessment efforts.  Please note we have created a useful set of resources located via the link on this page as we transition our information into the transparency framework.  

Click here for assessment resources.