Planning Assessments

  1. Review SLOs

Review existing SLOs, SSOs, or AUOs and determine which one or ones you would like to assess. Choose an outcome you think you need the most help with, so you can really explore and uncover potential improvements and resource needs. (These resource needs can then be embedded into your program review requests.) [See Developing Outcomes for more information on what makes a good SLO.]


2.  Determine an appropriate assessment tool.

Review types of assessment tools and choose the ones that will best measure the chosen outcome(s) for review. [See Assessing Outcomes for more information on various assessment tools.]

3. Collaborate to determine how and when assessments will be conducted:

How often will the course be assessed?

  • Will it be on a three-year cycle? A two-year cycle? Annual? Each semester? [See Scheduling Assessments for more information.] Note: Benchmark: maximum 3-year cycle for all SLOs to be assessed.
  • Are there similar courses that could be grouped together?
  • Which semester will you begin assessing this course?
  • If you make changes are made to the course, when will you it be reassessed to see the effects?

Will you assess all students and sections or will you use sampling?

  • If you are sampling, how many students/sections will be involved?
  • How will you decide which students/sections to involve?

What do you need to do to prepare?

  • Do you need to set up meetings for faculty teaching the course?
  • Do you need to create a departmental test or rubric?
  • How will you distribute materials?
  • Do you need any additional resources or training?

Especially for Course Coordinators

Course Coordinators are individuals who are responsible for gathering and summarizing efforts of all instructors of the same course, maintaining records on the course, and completing online reporting forms for a given course. Course Coordinators would also be responsible for getting together a group of instructors and coordinating SLO assessment for a particular course, including facilitating discussion of assessment data, outcomes, and improvement plans.

  • If a course has only one instructor, regardless of the number of sections, that instructor is the course coordinator.
  • If a course has multiple sections, instructors need to coordinate efforts for one submission. While there can be multiple course coordinators, the department dhair should designate one instructor who will be in charge of submitting the online reporting form.
  • There are a number of different departmental models used for coordinating course SLO efforts. Follow the model that works best for you. Below you will find our recommendations and a few guidelines.

Course coordinator guidelines:

  • Ensure that ALL instructors are assessing the same SLO(s) – 1, 2, 3, however many.
  • Collect asssessment data from ALL instructors and facilitate discussion and analysis through face-to-face and/or email conversations. (Although all faculty do not have to be involved with the discussion/analysis, all should be invited, and it should be possible for all to contribute to the conversation at least through email.)
  • You can choose to use a standard assessment tool in all course sections, or you can let every instructor use his or her own assessment methods as long as everyone is assessing the same SLO(s) and providing data in the same format for review across the course. In this case, you would need to also:
    • Create a standard FORM that ALL instructors use to share their assessment methods, data, and observations.
    • Develop a standard format for translating data/performance to share with the group. Example: all instructors provide results (numbers of students achieving at each level) for their own  assessment of SLO#3 as follows:

Proficient Student has achieved the outcome (for a credit class, this would be similar to a grade of C or higher -- passing) # of students at this level: X
Developing Student is enroute to achieving the outcome, but hasn't done so yet -- there is, however, evidence of progress (for a credit class, this might be similar to a grade of D) # of students at this level: Y
No evidence There's no evidence this student is progressing towards achieving this outcome (for a credit class, this might be similar to an F) # of students at this level: Z

*(these same achievement levels are what we are using for ongoing ILO and GEO assessments)

** REMEMBER: the focus is on real data for valuable conversations. Though we all have benchmarks we want for outcome achievement by our students, the most useful part is discussing when and how students fail to meet them and what we can do. Keep the data honest and the conversations robust. CHALLENGING classes may very well have low outcome achievement numbers. Benchmarks might be lower in that case. The goal is to continue to find ways to address some of the challenges and help students find successful pathways.

Especially for Program Coordinators

Program Coordinators can follow a similar process to that above for course coordinators with multiple instructors -- requiring course coordinators to provide their data in bins that the Program Coordinator can share across courses.

4.  Closing the Loop

Using assessment results to continually improve courses and programs is a main reason for SLO assessment. When decision making and change have support from data, they carry more meaning.

What needs to be done to gather and present the data?

  • Do you need data from the Division of Research & Policy? Other external sources?
  • What format will you use to share the data? PowerPoint? Handouts? Other?

When will be a meaningful time for involved faculty to reflect on the results?

  • Department meetings? Retreats?
  • Organized meetings between faculty who teach in the same program
  • Online discussion forums and/or departmental email list
  • Posting of shared best practices on departmental SLO web pages