6-Column Model Assessment Definitions

Division/University Strategic Initiative

This section will highlight either the division initiative (i.e., student engagement, academic integration, or outcomes-based assessment) or university initiative (see the University Planning Council WSU 2030 Initiatives) that the unit goal relates to.

Unit Goal

Goals are typically broad statements that are not necessarily measured by one outcome, but can often include a combination of many outcomes. Our unit goals should highlight one of two types of goals. These two are listed below:

Program Goal

A program goal can also be referred to as an administrative or department goal. These goals will look at changes for the department as a whole (personnel, increase the number of sessions offered) that will not directly impact student learning.

Educational Goal

Educational goals will have a corresponding learning outcome as these goals highlight what you expect students to learn from participating in your program (Oregon State University, 2006).

Means to Achieving Goals

This column will highlight the activities students can participate in to fulfill an educational goal or the steps you will take in order to achieve the program or educational goal.

Student Learning Outcome

This column describes what students will demonstrate that they know or are able to do upon being assessed, specific examples include how the student will demonstrate the “knowledge, skills, attitudes, or habits of mind” (Suskie, 2004, p. 75) that he or she has gained. This demonstration should be measurable.

Method of Assessment

This column highlights the way(s) in which the learning outcome or program goal will be measured. Multiple methods will yield richer data.

Indirect Assessment

Learning is inferred instead of being supported by direct evidence (i.e., usage data, satisfaction surveys). Students reflect on learning rather than demonstrate it (Palomba & Banta, 1999).

Performance Indicator

“Regarded as a set of tangible measures designed to provide public accountability. Often includes admission and graduate data, research records, employment of graduates, cost per student, student/staff ratios, staff workloads, student relevance, class size, laboratory and other equipment, equity, libraries, information technology, and other learning resources. Should be subject to informed interpretation and judgment” (CHEA, 2002).

Direct Assessment

Students display knowledge or skills as a result of an assessment measure (presentation, test, etc).

Results of Assessment

This column includes highlights of the overall findings of the assessment(s). It is not necessary to include every finding of the assessment in this column.

Use of Results

This column details of how the results of the assessment will be used to make improvements. This could involve editing the learning outcome, incorporating additional or changing current methods of assessment in the future, altering a program, etc.


This assessment method often “asks participants broad, general questions, collects the detailed views of the participants in the form of words or images, and analyzes the information for descriptions and themes” (Creswell, 2007, p. 645).


This assessment method “uses structured, predetermined response options that can be summarized into meaningful numbers and analyzed statistically” (Suskie, 2004, p. 106).


To increase the validity of assessment findings, triangulation uses multiple methods of assessment and can also consider utilizing usage numbers, satisfaction numbers, national survey results, etc. in order to support assessment results.


the systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development (Palomba & Banta, 1999).


a component of the assessment process where data is analyzed and results are gathered. For example, at the end of each semester or year, one may evaluate whether or not the identified learning outcomes are achieved.