Assessing Student Learning Outcomes

Outcomes assessment is the process of gathering information on whether the instruction, services and activities that the program provide are producing the desired student learning outcomes.

Principles of Good Practice in Assessing Learning Outcomes

  1. The assessment of student learning starts with the institution’s mission and core values. There should be a clear statement on the kinds of learning that the institution values most for its students.
  2. Assessment works best when the program has clear statement of objectives aligned with the institutional mission and core values. Such alignment ensures clear, shared and implementable objectives.
  3. Outcomes-based assessment focuses on the student activities that will still be relevant after formal schooling concludes. The approach is to design assessment activities which are observable and less abstract such as “to determine the student’s ability to write a paragraph” which is more observable than to determine the student’s verbal ability.”
  4. Assessment requires attention not only to outcomes but also and equally to the activities and experiences that lead to the attainment of learning outcomes. These are supporting student activities.
  5. Assessment works best when it is continuous, ongoing and not episodic. Assessment should be cumulative because improvement is best achieved through a linked series of activities done over time in an instructional cycle.

Samples of Supporting Student Activities

Student Learning Outcome #1: Students can organize information from secondary sources as basis of a research topic.

Supporting Student Activities

    1. practise differentiating source material and one’s opinion
    2. reading articles and formulating an original paragraph from quotes, paraphrases and summaries
    3. writing of essays to develop the topic
    4. integrating bibliographic entries in appropriate format

Student Learning Outcome #2: Students apply principles of logical thinking and persuasive argument in writing.

Supporting Student Activities

    1. forming opinion about the topic
    2. researching and writing about a variety of perspectives
    3. adapting style to the identified audience
    4. employing clear argument in writing

Student Learning Outcome #3: Students write multiple page essays complying with standard format and style

Supporting Student Activities

    1. analyzing and evaluating texts
    2. writing about a variety of perspectives on single topic
    3. adapting tone and style to address one’s audience
    4. reviewing grammar and essay format in readings
    5. holding group discussion about various topics

The Outcomes Assessment Phases in the Instructional Cycle

The Outcomes Assessment Phases in the Instructional Cycle

Variety of Assessment Instruments

It is best to use a variety of assessment instruments or tools when assessing student learning outcomes.

  • Objective examinations (e.g. multiple choice, true/false, matching, simple recall). The advantage in using this type is that teachers are familiar with it, although constructing high-quality test questions may be difficult.
  • Essay examinations allow for student individuality and expression although it may not cover an entire range of knowledge.
  • Written work (e.g. reports, papers, research projects, reviews, etc.) This type allows learning in the process as well as in the completion of the process. The disadvantage is that plagiarism may occur and written work is difficult to quantify
  • Portfolio assessment. Portfolios may either be longitudinal portfolio which contains reports, documents and professional activities compiled over a period of time, or best-case/thematic portfolio which is specific to a certain topic or theme.
  • Assessment Rubrics. A rubric is an authentic assessment tool which measures student’s work. It is a scoring guide that seeks to evaluate a student’s performance based on a full range of criteria rather than a single numerical score. Authentic assessment tool like rubric allows students to perform real-world tasks which are either replicas or simulations of the kind of situation encountered by adult citizen, consumers or professionals. Rubrics are used to assess non-objective test performance like psychomotor tests and written reports.

Rubrics have three (3) common characteristics

    • emphasis is on a stated objective
    • performance is rated in a range
    • include specific performance characteristics arranged in levels or degrees in which a standard has been met.

Rubrics are of two major types: holistic and dimensional/ analytical.

Holistic Rubric that Makes Use of Criterion-based Standards

Holistic rubric covers the instrument as a whole; students receive an over-all score based on a pre-determined scheme.

Holistic rubric uses criterion-based standards by providing descriptions of the different levels of performance like: Most Acceptable, Very Acceptable, Acceptable, Barely Acceptable and Unacceptable

Holistic Rubric for Assessing a Research Report
Holistic Rubric for Assessing a Research Report


    • Most Acceptable: 20 and above
    • Very Acceptable: 15-19
    • Acceptable: 10-14
    • Barely Acceptable: 5-9
    • Unacceptable: Below 5

Dimensional/Analytical Rubric

Dimensional/analytical rubric yields sub-scores for each dimension, as well as a cumulative score which is the sum, either weighted or unweighted. A dimensional rubric utilizes multiple indicators of quality for academic tasks that involve more than one level of skill or ability.

Assessment of Report on the Analysis of Public Opinions on the Divorce Bill
Assessment of Report on the Analysis of Public Opinions on the Divorce Bill


    • Most Acceptable: 7 and above
    • Partially Acceptable: 4-6
    • Unacceptable: Below 4

Competency/Skills Assessment

Competencies/skills Assessment from Beginner to Proficiency Level.

Skills acquisition undergoes phases from beginner to proficiency level. This may be illustrated in assessing cognitive and psycho-motor skills as demonstrated in the combination of “An adaptation of the Motor Skills Acquisition” by Patricia Benner applied to the “Assesment of Critical Thinking and of Technological Skills” by Herron and Dugan.



Student’s name:
Subject Title:
Date Course:

Students must be able to think critically by performing specific cognitive tasks.



Student’s name:
Subject Title:
Date Course:

Students will be expected to use technology ethically, to access information and use productivity tools to solve problems and produce products and presentations. They will be expected to locate and analyze various sources of information for problem-solving and conducting research.

Assessment of Learning Outcomes in the K to 12 Program (Per DepEd Order No. 31, s. 2012)

The assessment process is holistic, with emphasis on the formative or developmental purpose of quality assurance in student learning. It is also standards-based as it seeks to ensure that teachers will teach according to the standards and students will aim to meet or even exceed the standards. The students’ attainment of standards in terms of content and performance is, therefore, a critical evidence of learning.

The assessment shall be done at four levels which are an adaptation of the cognitive levels for learning. Weights are assigned to the levels.

Level of Assessment Percentage Weight
Knowledge 15%
Process or skills 25%
Understanding(s) 30%
Product/Performances 30%



The levels are defined as follows:

  1. “Knowledge” refers to the substantive content of the curriculum, the facts and information that the student acquires.
  2. “Process” refers to cognitive operations that the student performs on facts and information for the purpose of constructing meanings and understandings. This level is assessed through activities or tests of analytical ability.
  3. “Understandings” refer to enduring big ideas, principles and generalizations inherent to the discipline, which may be assessed using the facets of understanding. Assessment at this level, should require ability to synthesize, generalize and judge accordingly.
  4. “Products/Performances” refer to real-life application of understanding as evidenced by the student’s performance of authentic tasks. At this level students are expected to be able to apply what has been learned in contrived or real situations.