Gustavus Assessment Glossary

Assessment

Program Student Learning Outcomes: Program SLOs name the skills, habits, and/or content knowledge that students should be able to demonstrate by the completion of a program (e.g. major curriculum, general education curriculum). Usually these outcomes demand higher-order skills such as application and evaluation. These outcomes are often assessed through capstone, seminar, or portfolio projects.

Course Student Learning Outcomes: Course SLOs name the skills, habits, and/or content knowledge that students should be able to demonstrate by the completion of a course. Depending on the course level, these outcomes may require both lower-order skills—such as the ability to identify information—and higher-order skills such as application and evaluation. 

Mapping: Curriculum mapping show visually how assignments, activities, and/or courses lead students through the process of learning, practicing, and demonstrating the skills, habits, and/or content knowledge necessary to meet course or program outcomes. Strong maps differentiate among the introduction of skills or content, their reinforcement or practice, and their final demonstration. Maps enable faculty to determine that skills, content, and courses are appropriately scaffolded and can help identify where to make interventions should students not meet outcomes. You can find examples of basic and differentiated curriculum maps here: Curriculum_Map 

Addresses Outcomes: An assignment, activity, or course addresses an outcome when it aligns with a part of an outcome or introduces or reinforces a lower-order skill that students will build on to meet an outcome. In courses, the early assignments or activities in a scaffolded sequence might address outcomes by offering students the opportunity to practice skills or acquire knowledge they will build upon so that they can, by the end of the course, meet the outcome. In a program, courses might address an outcomes by including opportunities for students to practice skills or acquire knowledge that they will bring together and build upon to meet the programmatic outcome through completion of capstone, seminar, or portfolio projects. When asked if their courses are “addressing outcomes,” faculty should be able to provide evidence of assignments or activities that align with (but do not meet or address all parts of) an outcome. 

Meets Outcomes: An assignment, activity, or course meets an outcome when it allows students to demonstrate that they have learned what the full outcome specifies. In courses, final assignments, often at the end of a scaffolded sequence, typically provide students opportunities to demonstrate that they have met the outcome. In programs, capstone, seminar, or portfolio projects often provide students opportunities to demonstrate that they have met the outcome. When asked if their courses are “meeting outcomes,” faculty should be able to provide evidence of student work that allows students to demonstrate that they met the outcome or should provide rubric-based assessment that indicates how well students met the outcome. 

Formative Assessment: Assessment activities used to evaluate student learning while the learning is in progress. Formative assessment allows both faculty and students feedback so that modifications and improvements can be made. In many cases, formative assessment is “low stakes,” meaning that the assessments have little if any point value. Some examples of formative assessment include Classroom Assessment Techniques (or CATS). You can find examples at hereand here.

Summative Assessment: Assessment activities are used to evaluate how well students have learned skills, habits, and/or areas of knowledge, usually at the end of unit, course, or program. Often, summative assessments are “high stakes,” meaning that they have high point values and meaningfully inform students’ grades. Typical summative assessments include final exams, final papers, capstone projects, and portfolios.

Grading Rubric: A student learning rubric used in the grading process. These rubrics might be holistic (describing work at ‘A,’ and ‘B,” levels, for example) or criteria-based (defining the elements of an assignment and what constitutes ‘A,’ or ‘B’ work for each element). These rubrics are used to assign grades and are often given to students as part of their assignment feedback. In many cases, grading rubrics are also given to students as part of an assignment or activity prompt. Descriptions or criteria in grading rubrics may overlap with student learning outcomes, but may also have assignment specific criteria. Because grading rubrics might have criteria not on scoring rubrics (see below), it is possible for a student to score high on a grading rubric, but only average on a scoring rubric (or visa-versa). 

Scoring Rubric: A student learning rubric used to evaluate how well students met specific student learning outcomes. Scoring rubrics typically evaluate student learning according to levels of proficiency (e.g. “emerging, “acceptable,” “excellent”). Often scoring rubrics are used to evaluate different courses with the same student learning outcomes such as multiple courses that fulfill a general education area. Because scoring rubrics focus on student learning outcomes and not everything an instructor might evaluate for a course assignment, it is possible for a student to score high on a scoring rubric, but low on a grading rubric (or visa-versa).