Guidelines for Student Outcomes Assessment

Guidelines for Student Outcomes Assessment

The Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost oversees student outcomes assessment across all levels (university, college, department/college, and course) at Iowa State University.

CELT provides background and context for student outcomes assessment including best practices based on outcomes assessment research and policies developed by national organizations that focus on student outcomes assessment in higher education (e.g. Associate on Public and Land-grant Universities and American Association of Higher Education)

Student Outcomes Assessment at ISU: Context

During their years at Iowa State University, undergraduate students are expected to improve their general intellectual skills, to attain proficiency in one or more academic disciplines of their choice, and to develop interpersonal and leadership skills needed for productive careers and effective citizenship. Graduate students are expected to develop professional, research, and scholarship skills. The faculty is responsible for designing curricula and educational experiences to achieve these goals and for assessing how well the goals are attained. Instruction varies from structured classroom, studio and laboratory experiences to one-to-one contacts between individual faculty members and students, and it may include extra-curricular programs of various types.

To determine the effectiveness of these educational experiences, two related questions must be answered: To what degree have students attained desired educational goals? And, how effective have various programs and experiences been in facilitating the learning and development of students? These are fundamental questions of student outcomes assessment. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and to develop methods for improving learning and instruction, evidence must be collected about the degree to which the desired outcomes of the educational process have been attained. This process is effective when the assessment results are used to improve subsequent learning.

Principles of Good Practice

Iowa State University endorses the philosophy of outcomes assessment developed by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).

Statement of Principles on Student Outcomes Assessment (APLU)

  • focus primarily on the effectiveness of academic programs and the improvement of student learning and performance;
  • be developed in collaboration with the faculty;
  • be appropriate to the particular mission and goals of the institution;
  • use multiple methods of assessment;
  • be fiscally conservative and not impose costly programs on institutions;
  • be linked to strategic planning and program review processes within the institution.

All outcomes assessment procedures developed within the university must be consistent with these guidelines. The Iowa State University Faculty Handbook (Section 10.7.2) outlines the framework outcomes assessment at ISU.

Association of Public Land-grant Universities (APLU) formerly National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (1988). Statement of Principles on Student Outcomes Assessment. Washington, DC: Author, Council on Academic Affairs.