External Resources

These recommended books, articles, and web resources available online or in our library define terms, describe tools, link to disciplinary discussions of learning assessment, and link to data about our students.

Defining terms and thinking about the big picture

Association of American Colleges & Universities. Our Students’ Best Work: A Framework for Accountability Worthy of Our Mission. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: AAC&U, 2008. Agues that liberal education should be assessed, but not using oversimplified measures that don’t account for liberal learning outcomes that are difficult to measure. Offers ten recommendations to approach assessment meaningfully.

  • Make liberal education the new standard of excellence for all students
  • Articulate locally owned goals for student learning outcomes
  • Set standards in each goal area for basic, proficient, and advanced performance
  • Develop clear and complementary responsibilities between general education and departmental and other programs for liberal education outcomes
  • Charge departments and programs with responsibility for the level and quality of students’ most advanced work
  • Create milestone assessments across the curriculum
  • Set clear expectations for culminating work performed at a high level of accomplishment
  • Provide periodic external review and validation of assessment practices and standards
  • Make assessment findings part of a campuswide commitment to inquiry and educational improvement

Anderson, Lorin W. and others. A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Longman, 2001. Examines the taxonomy in depth and provides means of analyzing assignments and designing assessments. Many charts and examples. Library

Bain, Ken. What the Best College Teachers Do. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2004. An intriguing study of successful teachers and how they prepare and conduct their classes. The last chapter, “How Do They Evaluate Their Students?” considers ways these teachers assess learning, which is focused on their development as learners rather than on performance. Bain offers examples of how teachers got to know their students, solicited anonymous feedback during the course to uncover issues, constructed tests that build skills and knowledge rather than check recall of information, and evaluate their own teaching. But essentially, the entire book is about how good teachers constantly probe their students’ understanding and adjust to make it more successful. Library GBS Preview

Battersby, Mark. So, What’s a Learning Outcome, Anyway?
A philosopher unpacks the concept in some depth, and then provides a handy short answer: “Learning outcomes are the essential and enduring knowledge, abilities (skills) and attitudes (values, dispositions) that constitute the integrated learning needed by a graduate of a course or program. The learning outcomes approach to education means basing program and curriculum design, content, delivery, and assessment on an analysis of the integrated knowledge, skills and values needed by both students and society.”

Bok, Derek. Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2006. Though not specific about how to develop student learning outcomes, this book explores the key purposes of higher education: learning to think and communicate, building character, preparation for citizenship, living with diversity, preparing for a global society, acquiring broader interests, and preparing for a career. He sees many common practices in higher ed (though not lack of care for students or interest in teaching) as obstacles. The final chapter examines assessment issues. Library

Bresciani, Marilee J. Outcomes-Based Academic and Co-Curricular Program Review: A Compilation of Good Practices. Sterling, VA: Stylus, 2006. Discusses outcomes-based assessment in the context of program reviews and best practices based on the experiences of several institutions. Library GBS Preview

Cross, Patricia and Mimi Harris Steadman. Classroom Research: Implementing the Scholarship of Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1996. Includes case studies introducing background on learning theory, including self-confidence and motivation, learning goals, and designing classroom research projects. Library

Kuh, George D. High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter [excerpt] Washington, DC: AAC&U, 2008. An analysis of what practices that research studies have shown to have the most beneficial effect – particularly for underserved students. These practices are

  • First-Year Seminars and Experiences
  • Common Intellectual Experiences
  • Learning Communities
  • Writing-Intensive Courses
  • Collaborative Assignments and Project
  • Undergraduate Research
  • Diversity/Global Learning
  • Service Learning, Community-Based Learning
  • Internships
  • Capstone Courses and Projects

Assessment tools

Association of American Colleges and Universities. AAC&U VALUE: Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education

Angelo, Thomas A. and K. Patricia Cross.Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1993. A much-used guide to methods for conducting formative assessment during a course in order to help students assess their own learning and to get a quick snapshot of student learning. See this website for a quick overview of some classroom assessment techniques. Library

Ross Miller and Wende Morgaine The Benefits of E-Portfolios for Students and Faculty in Their Own Words
Provides an overview of ways in which portfolios can benefit both teachers and students (who gain insight into their own learning in the process of compiling and reviewing their work). From AAC&U’s Peer Review.

Sample Classroom Assessment Techniques Indiana University, Bloomington
A chart that outlines techniques that can help you check in with students quickly and repeatedly to help guide your teaching and give them a sense of how they can reflect on their own learning. Includes the minute paper, chain notes, memory matrix, directed paraphrasing, one-sentence summary, and more. Based on Angelo and Cross’s Classroom Assessment Techniques.

SALG: Student Assessment of Their Learning Goals
A free web-based tool that “allows instructors to gather learning-focused feedback from students. The SALG survey asks students to rate how each component of a course (e.g., textbook, collaborative work, labs) helped them to learn, and to rate their gains toward achieving the course goals. The SALG survey can be customized to fit any college-level course, and can be administered multiple times per course. A baseline instrument allows faculty to compare gains relative to incoming student characteristics.” This is a useful tool for formative assessment since it can be used during a course to help an instructor address areas that are confusing to students. You can adapt existing instruments from various disciplines or create your own. Students take it online (offering them a few points usually is sufficient incentive) and results can be downloaded and analyzed.

Wirth, Karl and Dexter Perkins. “Knowledge Surveys: An Indispensable Course Design and Assessment Tool.” Innovations in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
Describes a process of surveying students at the beginning, middle, and end of a course to see how confident students are in their knowledge of course material. This enables the teacher to emphasize what needs emphasis, speed up review of what they already know, and promotes students’ reflection on their own learning. See this website for more details about how this works in a geoscience program.

Assessment in particular disciplines

Chemistry – Undergraduate Professional Education in Chemistry (see particularly section 7 – Development of Student Skills)

Psychology – American Psychological Association – Undergraduate Major Learning Goals and Outcomes (2002); Website

Sociology – American Sociological Association – Creating an Effective Assessment Plan for the Undergraduate Sociology Major (2005)

Writing Programs – CCCC Writing Assessment: A Position Statement; NCTE-WPA White Paper on Writing Assessment; WPA Assessment Gallery

How Students Learn: History Mathematics, and Science in the Classroom. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. A review of how research in neuroscience and cognitive science can guide good teaching, with specific examples from three disciplines. The full text is also available online. Related titles of interest include How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School and How People Learn: Bridging Research and Practice.

Scobey, David. “Meaning and Metrics.” Inside Higher Ed 19 March 2009. Argues for a holistic, autobiographical, and reflective form of assessment that is a better match for the humanities than metrics based on cultural knowledge.

Raw data about our students

Data Available from the Provost’s Site
Includes reports from the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education, the Teagle study, and more.

Data Available through the Office of Institutional Advancement
Includes Senior Survey results, CIRP first year survey results (including time series from 1972 – 2008) NSSE results from 2000 and 2006, and enrollments and graduation by department.

Want more information about assessment?

NC State’s Internet Resources for Higher Education Outcomes Assessment
A massive collection of links.