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