Dean of Students

Program Goals or Learning Outcomes

Time is an important resource so making the most of your time when planning on how to assess a program, training, etc. is a necessary step.  The assessment planning cycle is designed to help break the process into manageable steps.  Another way to make the most of your time is to think about what it is you want students to out of participating in the program, training, etc.  Here are some guiding questions to consider in this part of the planning process.

  • What is it you want students to know?
  • What is it you want students to be able to do?
  • What is it you want students to value

When writing learning outcomes:

After you have written your learning outcomes, verify that they are SMART.  This will help you develop a more effective plan and the assessment will be easier to implement.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Aggressive (but attainable)
  • Results-oriented
  • Time-bound

You can also check to see if the goals or learning outcome follow the 3 Ms.

    • Meaningful
      • Is the goal or outcome aligned with the division and/or department goals?
      • Is the goal or outcome aligned with the College’s mission or strategic plan?
    • Manageable
      • Is the goal or outcome achievable and assessable?
    • Measurable
      • Will you be able to articulate (verbally and/or in a written report) how you know the outcome has been achieved?

Direct versus Indirect Assessment

Why should we use both kinds of assessment?

There is value in gathering both data from both types of assessment. It is important to find a balance so you can demonstrate student learning as well as infer program success. 



      • used to demonstrate expected outcomes
      • is evidence-oriented


      • participants are asked to report how they perceive mastery of outcomes
      • is perception-oriented


Direct –

      • Pre/post tests
      • Presentations
      • Observations of students using skill related to objective
      • Portfolios of work
      • Rubrics

Indirect –

      • Surveys
      • Program tracking
      • Advisory Committees
      • Interview

Either –

      • Focus Groups
        • Direct measure of student attitudes
        • Indirect measure of program success
      • Reflections
        • Direct measure of skill development
        • Indirect measure of program success