Assessment Terms

“What is required is not a lot of words, but effectual ones.” — Seneca

Before we start, we need to establish a common language. For example, goals, objectives and outcomes can be used at several different levels and with several different meanings. Here’s a quick guide to the terms we’ll use at BCC:

Program Goals:  The purpose for offering a particular academic program. Program Goals offer broad statements about what students will be studying and point to specific careers or academic tracks for which the program is preparing its students.  Program goals align with BCC’s Vision Statement and Core Values to help develop the BCC Educated Person.  (What do you want your students to learn when they graduate or complete a certificate?)

Department Goals:  The mission of the academic or college department.  Like Program Goals, Department goals align with BCC’s Vision Statement and Core Values to help develop the BCC Educated Person.  (How do you support the students and help them be successful?)

Program Student Learning Outcomes: The program-specific statements that detail what students should know and be able to do upon completion of the program. They refer to discrete, measurable knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that students should have developed as a result of participating in the curriculum.  These are the behaviors and competencies that demonstrate students are achieving the program goals. (What do you want students to know, to understand, or to be able to do when they graduate or complete a certificate?)

Student Learning Outcomes Criteria:  The individual traits, habits, and qualities of student work that exemplify a student’s full attainment of an outcome. These criteria usually provide the basis for the development of rubrics and other selective means to judge the quality of student work.  (What will students do that will be used as evidence of mastery?)

Student Learning Outcomes Maps:  A chart that details the particular courses and experiences within a curriculum that provide opportunities for students to learn and/or to demonstrate that they have mastered the program outcomes. Courses are categorized as to whether they introduce, emphasize, or reinforce distinct student learning outcomes. The development of a curriculum map provides a useful tool to guide a faculty to work collaboratively in aligning or realigning a curriculum to meet the specific program student learning outcomes. (Where will the student outcomes be taught and at what level?)

Course Student Learning Outcomes: The specific, measurable skills, behaviors, and competencies that demonstrate students are achieving the course outcomes. (What do you want students to know, to understand, or to be able to do when they complete the course?)

Assessment Plans: A full, cyclical assessment plan includes student learning outcomes statements, student learning outcomes criteria, a curriculum map, assessment methods and timing for program assessment, projected overall student achievement, actual overall student attainment, brief data analysis, indicated curricular improvements, and the timing for a future assessment of learning.

Assessment Methods: The various, intentional means that can be or will be used to gauge overall student learning within the program. Direct methods can include student portfolios, an item analysis of particular test questions, projects for capstones, etc. (What tools will be used to measure that the students demonstrated the program and course objectives and reached the program and course goals?)

General Education Competencies:  The agreed upon student learning outcomes that a graduate of BCC will be able to demonstrate when they walk across the stage at Commencement .  See Appendix for the General Educated Competencies. (What common blocks of knowledge to college graduates have that provide a foundation for life-long learning?)

BCC Educated Person:  An associate’s degree recipient who has achieved the discipline-specific knowledge and skills required by a particular degree program. The BCC Educated Person has also developed characteristics that reflect substantial knowledge, skills, and qualities in other general areas, and understands and appreciates the interconnectiveness of these characteristics. See the Appendix for the BCC Educated Person Student Learning Outcomes. (What common blocks of knowledge to college graduates have that provide a foundation for life-long learning?)

Deborah Grossman-Garber (2009) contributed to these definitions.

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