Some examples of direct measures:

  • Capstone experience
  • Standardized tests
  • Performance on national licensure certification or professional exams
  • Locally developed tests
  • Essay questions blind scored by faculty
  • Juried review of senior projects
  • Externally reviewed exhibitions performances
  • Evaluation of internships based upon program learning outcomes

Some examples of indirect measures:

  • Alumni, employer, and student surveys (including satisfaction surveys)
  • Exit interviews of graduates and focus groups graduate follow up studies
  • Retention and transfer studies
  • Length of time to degree
  • ACT scores
  • Graduation and transfer rates
  • Job placement rates

Some examples of non-measures (don't use these):

  • Curriculum review reports
  • Program review reports from external evaluators
  • Faculty publications and recognition
  • Course enrollments and course profiles
  • Faculty / student ratios, percentage of students who study abroad
  • Enrollment trends
  • 5 year graduation rates
  • Diversity of the student body

(courtesy of Susan Hatfield)

Why aren't grades enough?

From Jame Baillargeon [pdf].

  • Grading practices are not standard - An A in one section of a course may not mean the same as an A in another section of the same course. How many students can’t read, write, or do math at a college level when they enter? But all of these students graduated from high school with a passing grade.
  • Different ways of structuring program assessment are needed – Grades are not systematic. A student who is a good writer or a good test taker, good at memorizing or good at analysis, will fare differently in different courses, and the grade distributions in classes that allow relearning will be different from those in classes that do not allow relearning.
  • Grades reflect many things other than student learning – For example, grades reflect participation variables like discussion, cooperation, attendance, verbal ability, which do not reflect course content and mastery.
  • Objectives differ – How is an individual student’s grade used to improve the department overall? The point is not to evaluate the student but to evaluate the program. Departments need to look carefully at groups of students to see what they tell us about how to enrich teaching and improve the curriculum.
  • Good assessment requires multiple ways of measuring goal achievement – Grades are only a limited piece of a complete assessment process. Grades won’t necessarily tell you anything about what students aren’t learning but need to know. Nor will they tell you how and when you can best improve the program. Assessment should use multiple measures, both qualitative as well as quantitative, rather than relying on one instrument or activity.