Assessment Plans

‌Assessment Plans provide an outline to facilitate continuous improvement of student learning. Assessment plans include the program mission, student learning outcomes, learning opportunities, measures, targets and a process for carrying out the plan. Assessment plans need to be sustainable by the program's faculty/staff throughout many assessment cycles. Assess what is important and keep the plan simple, because time, money and energy are limited. Results of the assessment should include conclusions based on analysis of the results. The most important aspect of assessment is taking action to improve student learning. 

Program Mission 

The program mission states the general values and principles which guide the program and should reflect the mission of the university.

Student Learning Outcomes

The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment gives the following definition: student learning outcomes statements clearly state the expected knowledge, skills, attitudes, competencies, and habits of mind that students are expected to acquire at an institution of higher education. 

Student learning outcomes should contain one action verb and a subject.
Students will be able to <<action verb>> <<something>>.

Additional Resources on Writing Student Learning Outcomes:

Learning Opportunities

Students acquire knowledge and skills through a set of experiences as they progress through the program. These learning opportunities should be aligned to the student learning outcomes to make sure students have the opportunity to achieve mastery. A curriculum map is an excellent tool to show the alignment of learning opportunities to the student learning outcomes.


Measures are the tools or methods for gathering evidence of student learning. Measures should capture student learning that occurs as a result of the program.

Direct Measures provide visible, tangible evidence of student work. 

Indirect Measures are opinions or perceptions of what students have learned.

Direct Measures Indirect Measures
Presentations or performances Surveys (alumni, employer, student)
Debate and discussion Focus groups
Performance on exams Interviews
Projects, publications, portfolios  

Targets, Standards or Benchmarks

Specific rating against which we gauge success in achieving an outcome (e.g. 95% of students will be rated as "acceptable" on the research paper).


Works Consulted

American Association for Higher Education Assessment Forum. (1992) Principles of good practice for assessing student learning. Washington, DC: AAHE.

Council for Higher Education Accreditation. (2003) Statement of Mutual Responsibilities for Student Learning Outcomes: Accreditation, Institutions, and Programs. Washington, DC: CHEA. Retrieved from

National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. (2016, May). Higher education quality: Why documenting learning matters. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, Author.

Rowan University. (n.d.) Assessment Cycle. 

Texas A&M University. (n.d.) Writing Student Learning Outcomes.

University of Connecticut. (n.d.) How to Write a Program Mission Statement. 

University of Hawaii at Manoa. (n.d.) Assessment How To Plan for Assessment. Web. Retrieved from

Vanderbilt University. (n.d.) Blooms Taxonomy. Retrieved from