Introduction to Student Learning Outcomes Assessment

Student Learning Outcome Assessment is a systematic process in which Student Affairsstaff can reflect on how their programs are directly or indirectly contributing to student learning on campus. This process consists of four phases: creating and evaluating, implementing, reporting results, and using the results to improve programs and services.

Creating and Evaluating Student Learning Outcomes

The following questions will assist you as you create and evaluate your student learning outcome:
  • Does the learning outcome support the educational goal you articulated?
  • Does this relate to the mission of your department? Does the outcome relate back to the mission of the Division?
  • Is the learning outcome measurable/identifiable? Can you articulate what achievement of the outcome looks like? Consider how someone else would beable to observe the outcome being achieved.
  • How will students demonstrate what they have learned?
  • Do you offer programs and/or services that will allow students to achieve the learning outcome?
  • Will assessment of the learning outcome provide information that can be used to make decisions on how to improve the programs and/or services offered?

Choosing a Method of Assessment

Consider what assessment method will provide you with the most meaningful information. Remember that assessment is not research. Your results do not have to be generalizable to the larger university population or other universities as long as you find the data valuable. The following methods do not represent an exhaustive list as many other methods are available. Consider innovative ways to measure learning outcomes!

Qualitative methods

are characterized by words and descriptions. Some types qualitative measurements are listed below.


will allow you to actually see students demonstrating achievement of learning outcomes. Observations can be measured throughthe use of rubrics, checklists, or note taking.

Focus Groups

can be used to gather large amounts of information. These can be especially valuable to use when creating survey instruments or to follow-up on surveys or interviews. Themes can be identified within the data in order to easilysummarize the feedback.

One-On-One or Interviews

are common within Student Affairs and can be assessed through the use of criteria checklists, rubrics, and note taking (where themes are later identified). Short quizzes or surveys could be administered following a one-one to incorporate quantitative measurements.

Student Reflections

can be used to identify themes in students’ self-reported learning. Rubrics can also be used to assign anumerical value to outcomes being measured by the reflection.

Case Studies, Portfolios, and Open-Ended Questions

other qualitative methods that can be used. Many resources exist to gather further information on these methods (see Resources tab).

Quantitative Methods

are typically characterized by the use numbers. Some types of quantitative measurements are listed below.


can be used to measure the achievement of learning outcomes over time. These can include self-report questions. When administering pre/post tests, they should not be administered in close proximity as enough time should be allowed for students to have time to gain knowledge and/or skills.


  • Are there national surveys already available to measure this?>
  • Is there another tool available (at another campus, in another department) that you could use or adapt?
  • Can you draft a survey? What resources will you use to do so?

Triangulation or mixed methods

involve using a mixture of both qualitative and quantitative measures, while utilizing usage numbers, satisfaction numbers, national survey results,etc.

Questions to Consider

  • When do you want to gather information using each method of assessment?
  • Are any other surveys or course evaluations being distributed at this time that may affect your results?
  • Who will be responsible for gathering/compiling the data?
  • What resources will you need?