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What is learning outcomes assessment and why do we do it?
Learning outcomes assessment is the comprehensive and systematic examination of student learning throughout a degree program. Assessing how well students are achieving learning goals can tell us about the effectiveness of program curricula, course design, and teaching methods, pointing out areas of strength, and areas in which we need to improve.
Assessment also allows us to confidently assure accreditors and the community -- students and their families -- that Champlain delivers on our promise to educate students according to our mission. Assessment tied to teaching can help instructors identify students' emerging skills so that they can provide support at the right time and the right level. Finally, when done well, learning outcomes assessment can make educational goals visible to students, helping them take on more responsibility for, and have a greater understanding of, their learning and themselves.
Barbara Walvoord views assessment as a "natural, scholarly act," or a form of "action research." (Action research is change-oriented, seeking to introduce positive change through collaborative engagement with participants in a learning context.) Assessment is something we've been doing all along. As academics it is natural for us to ask ourselves, "Are they learning?" and to look for evidence to support our answers. According to Walvoord, there are three questions that the scholarly act of learning outcomes assessment seeks to answer:
Walvoord's key rule of thumb is that the end of assessment is action. The purpose of our action research activity is to improve. Actions that result from assessment can include:
The College's Academic Vision to become a national model for the integration of professional and liberal education requires a deep and ongoing understanding of student learning and satisfaction, as well as development of the critical competencies of expertise, creativity, integrity, and innovation. Through a meaningful system of assessments that supports continuous improvement of courses and curricula, we will both lead and support faculty, staff, and students in discovering opportunities for achieving their goals. We will build a body of evidence to substantiate Champlain College's position as a national exemplar in the development of 21st-century leaders.
We seek to become a recognized leader within the wider academic community for implementation of innovative assessment approaches and application of evidence to outcomes improvement. Within our own community we imagine a college that engages faculty, staff, and students to create and sustain a culture of continuous improvement and reflective practice that values inquiry and makes decisions based on evidence.
In our leadership role, we want to inspire:
In our support role, we want assessment to be: