Professional Development in Assessment was developed at JMU as an extension of the Center for Assessment and Research Studies' mission to improve higher education by inspiring and empowering faculty and staff to make evidence-based decisions to enhance student learning and development.

Navigate this page using the index to the left or the dropdowns below to explore carefully selected resources mapped to key skill areas in assessment, as specified by the Assessment Skills Framework.

Foundational Assessment Knowledge & Skills

Foundational Assessment Knowledge
Spotlight Resources
Foundational Overviews: Introducing the Assessment Cycle

Quick Access: Review Educational Standards

 Distinguishing student learning outcomes assessment from other assessment & evaluation processes

UF Guide to Developing Program Goals & SLOs

This guide from the University of Florida illustrates one university’s approach to developing program goals and student learning outcomes. The guide highlights the “SMART” approach to program goals and the application of Bloom’s Taxonomy for SLOs.  [Note: have the guide at this link handy when watching the video, below.] 

UF - The Basics of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment

The University of Florida presents a video, outlining important assessment concepts, such as accreditation, outcome vs output, program goals and student learning objectives, and curriculum mapping.

SASS - Professional Standards Presentation 

Student Affairs Assessment Support Services (SASS) at JMU present slides from a 2018 presentation from JMU faculty on professional standards and assessment. Resources related to this domain can be found starting at Slide #8, with specific emphasis on differentiating between standards for assessment purposes. Review of Slide 35 ties in assessment standards with the assessment cycle.  

NILOA - New to Assessment Modules 

NILOA presents a collection of open-access resources introducing the basics of assessing student learning, with resources for assessment terminology, assessment modules, and activities. Resources for this domain can be found in the modules at the bottom of the page under the content headings “Assessment Benefits & Barriers”: Ch. 2-3 and “Demystifying Assessment”: Ch 2.  

 Describing the assessment cycle

Overview of the Assessment Cycle

Student affairs services at JMU outline the 7 stages of the assessment cycle. Additional resources for each stage can be found in the sidebar.

CARS - Assessment Resources Overview 

Here, CARS has lists a combination of videos, handouts,  slide decks, and research articles directly mapped to each stage of the assessment cycle. This is a great place to familiarize yourself with each stage. [Note that Stage 6 and 7 resources are combined into one section.]

JMU Presentation “What Goes Around Comes Around” 

This PowerPoint, taken from a 2015 conference presentation by JMU faculty, contains detailed descriptions of each stage of the assessment cycle with activities to check your understanding as you progress.  

NILOA - Assessment Cycle 

NILOA presents a short example of the assessment cycle being modified for reporting purposes in the form of the components figure on the page, illustrating one approach to assessment considerations.  

NILOA - New to Assessment Modules 

NILOA presents a collection of open-access resources introducing the basics of assessing student learning, with resources for assessment terminology, assessment modules, and activities. Resources for this domain can be found in the modules at the bottom of the page under the content heading “Demystifying Assessment”: Ch 3.  

 Identifying the purposes of assessment

UF - A Practical Guide to Assessment - Basic Concepts & Assessment Categories

A resource designed for faculty at the University of Florida and all who teach in higher education, this guide presents a series of short videos on assessment topics that Dr. Brophy presents as part of his Passport to Great Teaching-Creative Assessment Faculty Development Learning Community. Resources for this specific domain can be found in “Module 1a: Basic Concepts” & “Module 1.b: Assessment Categories & Types” with videos introducing concepts and “Pause to Think” activities to check your understanding.

Assessment for Learning Improvement

JMU's student assessment team presents several useful resources for Assessment Reporting. Review of the last section on this page entitled “Learning Improvement” provides a good overview of what assessment looks like for improvement purposes.

NDSU - The Assessment Helix

A video brought to us by North Dakota State University, outlining why the institution does NOT use the assessment cycle – and what they do use, instead.

Student Affairs Assessment Leaders - Webinar on Accreditation

This livestreamed webinar focuses on who accreditors are, what they do, common accreditation myths, and assessment implications – all with an emphasis on restructuring accreditation as a tool for assessment.

 

NILOA - Shared Experiences with the Benefits of Assessment Data

NILOA gathers numerous assessment professionals in this video to share their unique experiences and thoughts surrounding what makes assessment data so important.

NILOA - New to Assessment Modules

NILOA presents a collection of open-access resources introducing the basics of assessing student learning, with resources for assessment terminology, assessment modules, and activities. Resources for this domain can be found in the modules at the bottom of the page under the content headings “Assessment Benefits & Barriers”: Ch. 1-2, which discuss the benefits of assessment and why assessment data is useful.

 Distinguishing between various levels of assessment

AAC&U - Levels of Assessment

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) presents the levels of assessment in this 24-page guide, with breakdowns of how to consider assessment at all stages within and across academic courses, at the department and program level, and as an institution. An overview of this document can be used to quickly identify different levels of assessment, as well as to dive deeper into relevant considerations at each given level.

NDSU - Sharing & Using Assessment Results

A video brought to us by North Dakota State University, discussing why we conduct assessment, and what to do with assessment evidence.

Student Affairs Assessment Leaders - Video on Aligning Unit Level Assessment

This video focuses on navigating multi-level assessment and situating individual levels as they align to others, using numerous student affairs program examples.

Skill Area 1: Student Learning Outcomes

Specify Student Learning Outcomes

 Developing student learning outcomes

Novice

Assessment Quickies - Student Learning Outcomes

Assessment Quickies presents a series of short videos on how to assess student learning. The following two videos introduce us to the concepts and development of Student Learning Outcomes.

Step 1: What Are Student Learning Outcomes?

Step 2: Writing Student Learning Outcomes

Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a quintessential tool in writing measurable SLOs. This resource from Iowa State presents the taxonomy alongside the knowledge dimensions professionals are typically interested in assessing to facilitate better verb choice at various levels.

SASS - Writing Student Learning Objectives Introduction

Student Affairs Assessment Suport Services (SASS) at JMU present an introductory video and online guide to writing student learning objectives, detailing what characterizes a “good” objective and some go-to dos and don’ts for the process. Examples are tailored towards student affairs, but tips are general enough for all types of assessment professionals!

  1. Online Guide
  2. Video

CARS Consultation Materials: Objectives Made Easy

This quick handout reinforces best practices for writing objectives for the learner, with a great outline of potential verb words at different levels and domains one might be interested in assessing.

Best/Worst Practice Videos:

  1. The “Weasel Word” in SLOs

    Keston Fulcher speaks to the dastardly verb that plagues many SLOs, using examples on what needs to change and why.

  2. NDSU - Slow it Down (SLOs)

    This video by North Dakota State University goes through several instances of bad student learning objectives and how to fix them, also noting the importance of SLOs to the course creation process.

UF - A Practical Guide to Assessment – Basic Elements for Developing SLOs

A resource designed for faculty at the University of Florida and all who teach in higher education, this guide presents a series of short videos on assessment topics that Dr. Brophy presents as part of his Passport to Great Teaching-Creative Assessment Faculty Development Learning Community. Resources for this specific domain can be found in “Module 2b: Basic Elements for Developing Student Learning Outcomes”.

University of Hawaíi at Mānoa - Developing SLOs

For those interested in learning about the program-level SLO development process, this resource from the at University of Hawaii at Manoa outlines what program SLOs are, why they need to be developed, characteristics of good program SLOs, and walks through the development process with examples and worksheets to assist you in evaluating and developing your own program outcomes.

NILOA - New to Assessment Modules

NILOA presents a collection of open-access resources introducing the basics of assessing student learning, with resources for assessment terminology, assessment modules, and activities. Resources for this domain can be found in the modules at the bottom of the page under the content headings “Demystifying Assessment”: Ch. 1 and “Goals and Objectives”: Ch. 1-3 & 5.


Intermediate

Assessment Quickies: Levels of Student Learning

This resource is a continuation of the 10 step Assessment Quickies series, which dives deeply into the levels of student learning. In conjunction with this video would be a good time to revisit Bloom’s Taxonomy (https://www.celt.iastate.edu/teaching/effective-teaching-practices/revised-blooms-taxonomy/)

Quick Overview Handouts:

This short resource explains best practices for writing SLOs with clear examples of SLOs that violate these practices and how to correct them.

University of Western Australia presents a 1-pager style fact sheet, introducing SLOs, highlighting taxonomies and outlining other important considerations for writing outcomes.

SASS - SLO Writing Workshop Slides

The attached slides from a previous JMU Workshop reiterate best practices for writing objectives with more examples, summary checklists of considerations, and three clearly presented common misconceptions or resistant themes that may arise when trying to explain SLOs with clarifications that address each. Handout versions of some of the resources within the PowerPoint are presented below for convenience.

  1. Checklist for Effective Outcomes
  1. Dos and Don’ts

Exemplars:

1. Las Positas Community College - SLO Handbook

Las Positas Community College provides an in-depth example of how one institution handles SLO development. Several SLO examples are provided alongside best practice information with alignment to larger institutional objectives.

2. UF - Developing Program Goals & SLOs

This guide from the University of Florida illustrates one university’s approach to developing program goals and student learning outcomes. The guide highlights the “SMART” approach to program goals and the application of Bloom’s Taxonomy for SLOs with plenty of verbs to choose from for better writing practices and a blank “taxonomy table” at the end to fill in yourself.

Skill Area 2: Program Mapping

Create and Map Programming to Outcomes

 Developing theory-based programs

Novice

SASS - Video Introduction to Program Theory

Student Affairs Assessment Support Services (SASS) at JMU present an introduction to the concept of program theory, why it’s important, how to develop courses based on program theory and logic models, and the situation of program theory within the assessment cycle. Examples use student affairs programs, but concepts transfer well to academic efforts.

Introducing the Foundations of the Logic Model Video

A short video introduction into the foundational components and considerations of a logic model – specifically, what are inputs, outputs, and the levels of outcomes.

SASS - How to Build a Theory-Based Program & Developing a Logic Model

Student Affairs Assessment Support Services (SASS) at JMU present a thorough and accessible introduction to building theory-based programming and the steps of developing a logic model.

A Healthcare Example of Logic Models

A brief video examining program theory from a healthcare perspective – looking at understanding the inputs, outputs, and outcomes with an emphasis on how data is essential in informing the entire paradigm.

NILOA - New to Assessment Modules

NILOA presents a collection of open-access resources introducing the basics of assessing student learning, with resources for assessment terminology, assessment modules, and activities. Resources for this domain can be found in the modules at the bottom of the page under the content heading Demystifying Assessment”: Ch 1, which provides an introduction to the concept of program theory and mapping outcomes.


Intermediate

Key Articles

  1. Pope, Finney, & Bare - The Essential Role of Program Theory

    Excellent article introducing the importance of program theory, utilizing didactic examples of applications in student affairs, illustrations of short-term, intermediate, and long-term outcomes, and in-depth exploration of the 4-step process to develop theory-based programs and assess their effectiveness.

  2. Smith & Finney - Evaluating Program Theory

    This article provides an additional example of program theory in higher education through the model of ethical reasoning. It reinforces ideas from the Pope, Finney, & Bare article and demonstrates how to find credible evidence and situate program theory among other steps of the assessment cycle.

Exemplars

1. SASS - Applied Example

This handout from Student Affairs Assessment Support Services (SASS) at JMU walks through relevant steps to get started applying program theory to ones' own program.

2. NILOA - Brief Institutional Examples

NILOA presents assessment plan examples from several institutions. One specific example for this domain can be found from the University of Scranton, where they provide one instance of mapping program goals to academic standards.

3. SASS - Learning Improvement Initiative Application

Navigate this page by Student Affairs Assessment Support Sercives (SASS) at JMU to view the exemplars of logic models in action, located near the end of all example applications provided.

 Mapping of SLOs with curriculum

Novice

NDSU: Get a Map Video

The Office of Teaching and Learning at North Dakota State presents an introduction to curriculum mapping, emphasizing how the process clarifies how courses align with broader program objectives.

University of Hawaíi at Mānoa: Curriculum Mapping/Curriculum Matrix

The University of Hawaíi at Mānoa a presents a nice walk-through of the curriculum mapping process explaining what it is, why we do it, and some best practices for going through the process yourself.

SASS Resources:

  1. SASS: Program Creation & Mapping

    Student Affairs Services at JMU continue with their breakdown of the assessment cycle with this page on program creation & mapping. After discussing program theory, logic models, and building evidence-based programming, you can find a cursory overview of the different types of program maps one might consider using and interpretation of what a program map tells you.

  2. SASS: Program Mapping Video

    A focused introductory video by SASS, focusing in on the process of program mapping, as it is situated within the larger assessment framework. This video walks through the purpose of program mapping, as well as some student-affairs based examples.

UF: The Basics of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment

The University of Florida presents a video, outlining important assessment concepts, such as accreditation, outcome vs output, program goals and student learning objectives, and curriculum mapping. If you’re eager for the discussion of program mapping, specifically, this conversation begins around time-stamp 23:05.

Sample Curriculum Map

The University of Virginia’s Office of Institutional Research & Analytics presents a sample of a general curriculum mapping process that could take place within a given major for evaluating the coverage of courses to program objectives.

Intermediate

Assessment Quickies: Creating Your Own Curriculum Map

This resource is a continuation of the 10 step Assessment Quickies series, which dives deeply into the levels of student learning. This video focuses in on Step 4 – mapping student learning outcomes to curriculum.

Build Your Own

Mapping Templates & Examples:

  1. Community College of Denver: This is a blank template with instructions for use and includes an example for program mapping academic courses. You can adapt the template by filling in your own university information.
  1. University of Toledo: One example template in excel format of a graduate level program map you can customize for your own institution.
  1. Assessment Plan & Objective Mapping for SLOs and PLOs: Another example of curriculum mapping with student and program level outcomes, plus a tab for mapping out assessment considerations across multiple levels of assessment (Template downloads in Excel).

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