What Is Assessment?

What is Assessment?

“Assessment is an ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving student learning. It involves making our expectations explicit and public; setting appropriate criteria and high standards for learning quality; systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well performance matches those expectations and standards; and using the resulting information to document, explain, and improve performance.” (Angelo, 1995, p. 7)

What Assessment is NOT?

  • Student grades. Grades are not by themselves an assessment. Assessment looks at the alignment between the program curriculum and student learning outcomes. Grades may be used as assessment if they are directly linked to specific learning outcomes and data are collected for that purpose.
  • Evaluation. Assessment is a process of improvement and should never be used to judge any faculty.
  • Just for accreditation. Assessment should not be conducted just to meet accreditation requirements. To be meaningful it should be an ongoing process of development, measurement, and reflection geared toward continuous improvement.
  • Useless. Assessment (if conducted properly) contributes to program development and to student learning.

Why Do We Conduct Assessment?

Assessment is conducted to improve programs and student learning:

  • Helps to identify areas for improvement
  • Shows strengths of programs
  • Provides evidence of student learning attainment
  • Encourages a focus on curriculum rather than on courses


  • Assists the university and programs in meeting accreditation standards
  • Assists the university in meeting state mandates

What Units Should Develop Assessment Plans?

  • Academic programs by degree level (i.e., Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, etc.)
  • Interdisciplinary minors
  • Post-baccalaureate programs
  • Certificates
  • Academic support units
  • Administrative units