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 assistance with academic assessment, please contact:

Dr. Joan Littlefield Cook
Director of Academic Assessment
(262) 472-1530 (direct)
(262) 472-1806 (main)


Office of Academic Assessment
450 Heide Hall
800 West Main Street
Whitewater, WI 53190
Phone: 262-472-1806