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Annual Program Assessment Plan

An assessment plan should be “meaningful, manageable, and sustainable” because our time is valuable, committed, and limited. Essentially the plan is a form of research that tells us how well our students are achieving the important program learning outcomes that we chose. As a result we can say what we are doing well and propose changes for improvement when we are not satisfied with the results.

Why is this report important?

The WSCUC answer is that educational effectiveness in the academic arm consists of three things: program review, annual programmatic assessment, and our annual institutional report. The better answer is that it’s a systematic way for the faculty and departments to review student work and make curricular improvements where appropriate.

What are three parts of the report?

1. the Annual Assessment Report (which if you prefer could become the outline for a narrative report

2. Program Assessment Inventory

3. A brief review of your Program Dashboard

Note that the effort is a faculty development opportunity because it shows faculty where students are in their learning, where they should be next year, and serves as an opportunity for them to discuss the program and teaching. It is also a great introduction for new faculty

  • Set your priorities as you begin. Start small, focus on the things that are important to you, and focus on the things that will yield the greatest benefit for the time and resources used
  • Begin with PLO/ILOs that are important to your program
  • Decide on some baseline that is acceptable to you (70% of all students achieve this outcome at a beginning, practicing, or advanced level). One practical approach is to pick a particular year.
  • How many courses will be included and how many students will be assessed? You don’t have to do all but the selection should be large enough, representative enough, and random to be meaningful.
  • Pull syllabi of those courses
  • How did you assess the work (e.g., final reviews, faculty review of student work)?
  • If using a rubric, attach to report.
  • How are the results shared and used to improve student learning?
  • If you feel you are meeting these competencies to your satisfaction, next year can move on to 2-3 other competencies or levels. If you feel you want to make major curricular changes, you might want to reassess these to see if the changes had the impact you want.

What if I or my faculty would like some guidance?

Just ask and you shall receive!

Signature Assignments

A "signature assignment" is that assignment that best displays the knowledge or skills essential to the objectives of a course. Other coursework should build toward the completion of the course ‘signature’ assignment. Think of a signature assignment as a milestone in the student’s progress toward fulfilling the program objectives. Ideally, signature assignments are the types of works that students and professors would most like to present to others as evidence of accomplishment (i.e., work they would like to sign and have signed).

The creation of signature assignments is an opportunity for faculty to focus intentionally on learning experiences that are specifically intended to address Learning Outcomes. When creating such assignments, faculty are asked to think carefully and creatively about the assignment’s intended outcomes and the best way to prompt students’ application of the outcome to knowledge appropriate to the course.

After the first year, Signature assignments should always move beyond content knowledge to asking students to do something with what they have learned. Thus they will use verbs like “synthesize,” “demonstrate,” “integrate,” and “apply.”

Additional Articles:
Integrating Signature Assignments into the Curriculum and Inspiring Design (PDF)
Slideshare Presentation (WSCUC Resource Fair)

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