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Learning Outcomes Assessment Plan Examples

Since 2011, members of the Assessment Coordinating Committee, in collaboration with consultants at the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, have been reviewing assessment plans from 4-year programs at all Penn State locations. Below are links to some of those plans that were particularly good. Although each plan has unique strengths, all of them include learning goals/objectives that are student-centered (i.e. written from the student perspective), clear and measureable. In addition, all exemplary plans include methods of collecting direct evidence of student learning, such as performance on class assignments.

Since 2012, programs that are shared across several campuses have been working together to develop unified program objectives. Examples of those that have been finalized are also posted below.

Unified Program Objectives for Shared Programs

This is an example of a set of unified program objectives developed by the psychology programs, which is shared across several campus locations.

Eberly College of Science, Penn State University Park

The Biology assessment is focused on measuring the degree to which students attain specific knowledge that is fundamental to the discipline. Strengths of the plan include multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and to improve their understanding over time.
Program assessment will focus on developing communication skills through presentation of scientific posters. Strengths of the plan include multiple points in the curriculum at which poster presentations are already established, the use of rubrics for both written and oral aspects of posters and the opportunity to track both cohorts and individual students across the curriculum.
Program assessment will focus in 2011-2012 on the application of mathematical proof techniques in a variety of areas. This objective is addressed by direct examination of answers to appropriate questions asked on exams, both formative and summative, in several courses across the 300- and 400-level. This plan shows how to incorporate course assessment into a program assessment plan, a strategy that reduces the additional workload associated with learning outcomes assessment.

College of the Liberal Arts, Penn State University Park

This department provided a strong plan outlining the use of multiple data sources that are related both to program learning objectives and to professional standards. A strength of this plan is the inclusion of both student perceptions (indirect evidence) and student performance (direct evidence), a strategy that provides a more robust assessment.
Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures
The department proposes to review the essays of students in a culminating course to evaluate the extent to which required program elements have been accomplished. The strengths of this plan include assessment of student performance by blind reviewers and the inclusion of a scoring guide (rubric).

Penn State Altoona

This is a comprehensive plan that exemplifies the use of criteria which help the faculty to determine the extent to which students met the learning objectives. Strengths include the capstone assignments, which are carefully outlined and provide guidance to both students and evaluators with regard to defining work of the highest quality, and the use of both direct and indirect measures. The committee recommended the use of a scoring guide (rubric) for scoring the assignments.
This is another plan that included more information than the committee requested, but serves as an excellent example of a complete and comprehensive plan. The strengths of this plan include documentation of the departmental philosophy, the use of both direct and indirect measures of student learning, and opportunities for student work to be evaluated across the curriculum.