Assessment Process

All active degree-granting programs are expected to assess at least one component of their programs’ learning outcomes annually. These assessments feed into the academic program reviews, typically completed every five to seven years or, if relevant, are included in the systematic evaluations of the curriculum that is a part of the program’s professional accreditation self-study. Completed annual program assessments should be sent to [email protected].

For your convenience you can use the assessment template or submit a word document that addresses the five components of assessment.

The assessment should include the following information:

  • The student learning outcomes you are assessing. Programs should have at least 3-5 outcomes that are assessed over a five-year period. 
  • The assessment plan includes the assignments, projects, exam questions, or performances used to assess student learning, including the courses in which the assessments will be completed. It should include a detailed description about the tool(s) that are used to assess student learning and information about how these measures relate to the learning outcome.
  • A detailed summary of the assessment findings includes the number of students assessed, their scores, and a copy of the rubric, which may include questions and answer keys used.
  • Analysis and interpretation of the assessment findings comprises what the data tells you about what and how well students are achieving the learning outcome(s). It should include information about in which areas students are excelling or having difficulty.
  • An action plan describes what, if any, changes in the curriculum or in specific courses you will make to improve student learning, based on the assessment.


Program outcomes provide coherence to a curriculum. They demonstrate how course goals relate to program goals and provide guidance on what should be taught, learned, and assessed. While the assessment literature uses different terms to describe what we want students to learn, GW uses the terms learning outcomes, goals, objectives, competencies, and proficiencies interchangeably. Whatever term is used, program outcomes should include what students are expected to learn and the observable behavior (outcome) that demonstrates the knowledge, skills, and competencies that students are expected to achieve upon completion of the program.

Each program should identify 3-5 of its most important learning outcomes. Each degree is responsible for assessing at least one goal annually or all goals within a five-year cycle. (Programs that have professional accreditations may use the learning outcomes defined by their accrediting bodies, if this is more convenient.)

Student learning outcomes should be reviewed regularly to ensure they are still relevant. They may be revised or deleted, and new goals may be added.

Writing Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes are formal statements that articulate what students are able to do, know, and think at the end of a course or a program. Typically, they are written as a subject (student), plus an action verb that identifies the level of learning or cognitive skill that will be demonstrated and a phrase or learning statement that specifies what learning will be demonstrated in the performance. 

Examples of learning outcomes

  • Students will be able to distinguish between primary and secondary sources and use them appropriately in their research.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of proofs by determining whether or not an argument is valid.
  • Students will be able to explore information resources-- through both the traditional library and emerging technological sources—to use them effectively, and to acknowledge them correctly.
  • Students will be able to generate appropriate statistical measures to test hypotheses and determine which outcomes support (or do not support) the hypotheses.

More information about writing learning outcomes can be found in the article “How to Write Program Objectives/Objectives” developed at University of Connecticut.

Questions to Consider:

  • What knowledge, skills, and abilities do you expect graduates of the program to know and be able to do when they complete their degree?
  • How will students be able to demonstrates these capacities?
  • How do these goals reflect the mission and aspirations of the program?
  • What discipline-specific outcomes are required for accreditation?
  • How well does the program prepare students for careers, graduate or professional study, and/or life-long learning?

Examples of student learning outcomes: [to be added later]



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