Glossary for Academic Effectiveness
Outcomes and Goals
- Undergraduate learning outcome (ULO): A statement of what students know, are or can do when they complete a WOU undergraduate degree.
- Graduate learning outcome (GLO): A statement of what students know, are or can do when they complete a WOU graduate degree.
- Program outcome: A statement of what students know, are or can do when they complete a program (major, certificate).
- Course goal: A statement of what students know, are or can do when they complete a course.
NWCCU requires that program outcomes and course goals be aligned with evidence of student learning and be meaningful, assessable and verifiable.
- Meaningful: Aligned to something larger we value – e.g., course goals may align with program outcomes, ULO’s or external standards.
- Assessable: Measurable, either directly, if the goal/outcome is stated specifically enough OR Indirectly, through a preponderance of evidence that points to the achievement of a more abstract goal
- Verifiable: Student demonstrates achievement, reasonable inter-rater reliability, evidence retained.
- Evidence: Artifacts that reflect student learning.
NWCCU requires a university wide system for alignment, assessment and improvement.
- Align: Coordination of curriculum so that courses contribute to stated outcomes.
- Assess: Collective study of curricular effectiveness as revealed through studentwork.
- Evolve: Courses, curriculum and pedagogy change when assessment findings point to areas needing improvement.
- Close the loop: Generally refers to steps 3 & 4 of this process. (1) Try something, (2) study results, (3) evolve in response to findings, and (4) study change to see how that goes.
WOU engages in the work of Academic Effectiveness at several levels.
- Assessment of program learning outcomes: Academic programs have identified learning outcomes for students. Each year student program faculty assess student attainment of at least one outcome. Programs use this information to improve student learning, as needed.
- Assessment of general education learning outcomes: WOU’s undergraduate general education program has identified learning outcomes for students. Each year WOU assesses student attainment of one or more outcomes. Primarily through the General Education Committee, WOU uses this information to improve student learning, as needed.
- Assessment of degree (i.e., Bachelor’s, Master’s) outcomes: WOU undergraduate degrees as a whole are defined by five broad learning outcomes (ULO’s): Diversity, Inquiry & Analysis, Integrative Learning, Quantitative Literacy and Written Communication. Each year, WOU focuses on one or two of these outcomes for university-wide assessment of our student’s attainment of our goals for them.
- Program Review: Academic Program Review occurs once every seven years and drives continuous improvement through (1) critical evaluation of current activities (e.g., self-study), (2) identification of specific strengths and areas for improvement, and (3) program-level strategic planning that aligns programs and resource allocation with the university mission and strategic plan. While drawing on assessment results to inform review, Program Review is more global than assessment of learning.