College of Arts & Sciences

Assessing Student Learning

Assessment is really no more than asking a question about student learning, providing students an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding, analyzing the results and using the information to inform practice. It can be accomplished in many forms and done at many different levels, but it should follow these steps.

All assessment should start with a question. The questions can be at the course level, the program level, or even the university level. It can be as simple as a question about the content of one class period - how well do my students understand what we discussed today? - or about the necessary understandings of an entire program - how well can our graduating seniors select appropriate lab techniques and apply them to answer a question? Over time, your questions will become more sophisticated and nuanced.

Once you articulate what you want to learn about your students, you can design a meaningful assessment. Your assessment should match your question in content and form. While knowledge can be assessed with objective questions or short written responses, learning outcomes such as writing, speaking, drawing, teaching, care of patients, information literacy and research skills, and critical thinking require performance assessments.

After you have given your assessment, your analysis should include both examination of individual understanding and evaluation of the group of students. Analyze what topics students understood best, what areas the group struggled with or had misconceptions about.

Finally, what you learn from your analysis can point you to ways to improve student learning in current and future classes and curriculum.

Mission Statement

The Director of Assessment for the College of Arts and Sciences is dedicated to working ethically, collaboratively, and reflectively, and to ensuring that the assessment plans created by the members of the College are designed to foster student learning and enhance the effectiveness of our academic programs, while meeting the standards and best practices of the academic assessment community. The Director of Assessment supports the work of the College in the following ways:

  • Provides leadership to the College faculty in the area of assessment of student learning
  • Provides guidance to faculty and administration in creating assessment plans and evaluating student learning using the best practices of academic assessment
  • Helps ensure that department and program assessment plans are designed, implemented, analyzed and reported on in a manner that fosters student learning, is useful for curricular and program improvement, and meets UNCW reporting needs
  • Collaborates with all members of the UNCW community working on the assessment of student learning to assure that the university meets its strategic goals