Throughout these resources, the American Association of Higher Education’s “Nine Principles of Good Practices for Assessing Student Learning” are integrated to create a broader understanding of the usefulness and importance of clearly established Program Goals, Student Learning Outcomes, and assessment effectiveness.

Principle 1: The assessment of student learning begins with educational values. Assessment is not an end in itself but a vehicle for educational improvement. Its effective practice, then, begins with and enacts a vision of the kinds of learning we most value for students and strive to help them achieve. Educational values should drive not only what we choose to assess but also how we do so. Where questions about educational mission and values are skipped over, assessment threatens to be an exercise in measuring what’s easy, rather than a process of improving what we really care about.

Assessment in academics is the process by which student learning is evaluated and the results are used to continuously monitor the quality of educational programs and signal any need for improvement. Assessment planning begins by clearly identifying learning outcomes for students. Student learning outcome (SLO) statements must also be measurable and target various skill levels within the cognitive domain. Planning then involves building programs and courses that provide students’ opportunities to achieve these learning outcomes.

Alignment and integration of learning outcomes are critical for successful assessment planning and the continuous improvement cycle. Learning outcomes identified at the institutional level must be integrated at the program and course levels. Conversely, course outcomes must align with program outcomes, which in turn must align with institutional outcomes.