Program-level assessment gives members of academic departments or programs the opportunity to ask: What and how is our department/program (i.e., major or minor) contributing to the learning and development of our students as a group? It’s a systematic process for looking at student work or other evidence of student achievement across courses or an entire major.
Program assessment takes into account not only the academic components of the department/program but also support services such as advising. Ideally, it’s an opportunity for faculty to engage in an ongoing conversation about how their courses relate holistically to the goals of the department/program. Ultimately, both students and faculty can benefit from the process.
Like course-level assessment, program-level assessment is an iterative process that provides faculty with a framework to examine present and future educational offerings. The process itself is analogous to that of course-level assessment—identifying program learning goals, aligning goals with the curriculum, gathering evidence of student learning, interpreting the evidence, and using the evidence for improvement. A key distinction between the two processes is that program-level assessment requires the collective engagement of faculty during all steps in the process.
Identifying Student Learning Goals
What do I want my students to know? What do I want my students to be able to do upon graduation?
Aligning Goals with Curriculum
Where does the department/program provide opportunities for students to acquire and practice the skills necessary for achieving the department/program’s learning goals?
Gathering Evidence of Student Learning
How do I collect evidence that demonstrates a culmination of knowledge?
Interpreting Evidence of Student Learning
What do these sources of evidence tell us about student progress toward the learning goals we have set for them?
Using Evidence to Improve Learning
What have I learned from the process to improve both the program and student learning?