Students are heavily involved in assessment activities throughout their educational careers. Assessment can take place at many levels, including the very familiar course assessment, otherwise known as “the test.” Assessment of student learning at the program level is somewhat different, however. The results of these assessments are not used to evaluate or grade individual students. Instead, they are used to evaluate the program of study to ensure a high-quality learning experience for current and future students. Students may or may not realize when an assessment for a program goal is taking place. Faculty members try to make use of existing exams, assignments, projects, and presentations to collect data about program goals. At times, however, faculty members may use assignments or exams that are specifically designed for program assessment.
Students have many reasons to be interested in the assessment of learning within programs. In the early stages of a student’s academic career, assessment information can be used to learn about potential degree and non-degree programs. Each program has well-defined goals for student learning, which can help students decide upon a course of study. In addition, students can review the results of previous assessments to ensure that programs are striving for excellence.
Each program at the college will also have a unique set of goals for student learning. These program goals are interrelated with the broader college-wide goals, but also reflect the specific learning goals of a given course of study.