Elements of Academic Assessment

      Elements of Academic Assessment

      Academic assessment is an essential component of quality improvement and accountability for all departments and academic programs (majors, minors, and degrees) at UW-Whitewater. A comprehensive system of assessment provides departments and programs with the data they need to make evidence-based decisions and also forms the basis for rich faculty, staff, and student discussions about ways to improve teaching, learning, and department/program function.

      An effective system of academic assessment includes the following elements, within each department or academic program.

      Assessment of Student Learning:

      • A manageable set of student learning outcomes is defined for each major, standalone minor, and degree program.
      • Learning outcomes represent the values, mission, and strategic plan of the university, college, and academic departments involved.
      • Learning outcomes for undergraduate majors and minors are coordinated with the wider campus baccalaureate learning outcomes (LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes), where appropriate.
      • A matrix or other method shows how courses in the curriculum are linked to the learning outcomes.
      • Both direct and indirect methods of assessment are used to measure the degree to which students typically achieve the learning outcomes by the time they graduate. A mix of quantitative, qualitative, internal, and external methods is also encouraged.
      • A subset of learning outcomes are measured (assessed) each year, and there is a plan for measuring all outcomes over a longer period of time.
      • Assessment data are reviewed at least annually within each department or academic program, using a regular and systematic process.
      • Assessment data are used to identify ways to improve teaching and learning, and departments and programs commit to those improvements.
      • Assessment results and improvements are shared with stakeholders, including students and the wider community.

      Program Evaluation:

      • Departments/programs have a regular and systematic process for setting goals (e.g., annual goals) for improvement.
      • Evaluation data, outcomes, or other indicators are collected and reviewed as evidence of goal achievement.
      • There is a regular and systematic process for monitoring and reporting on progress.
      • Faculty, staff, and other appropriate stakeholders are involved in setting goals and monitoring progress.

      For more information, or for assistance with academic assessment, please contact:

      Dr. Joan Cook
      Director of Academic Assessment
      (262) 472-1530


      Office of Academic Affairs
      420 Hyer Hall
      800 West Main Street
      Whitewater, WI 53190
      Phone:  262-472-1672
      Fax:  262-472-1670