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Assessment of Learning

What Do We Mean by Assessment?

At CSP, when we use the term “Assessment,” we are typically referring to the process by which we evaluate how well students can demonstrate their achievement of learning goals at the course, program, and institutional levels. We set out these learning goals in the form of student learning outcomes (SLOs). Assessment of learning allows us to analyze the degree to which students have achieved each learning outcome set for them. Grading gives us a general sense of students’ performance in a course but does not tell us the degree to which they achieved each of the learning objectives set out for them. Grading leaves gaps in our understanding of what specifically students have mastered and what needs improvement.

The ultimate goal of the assessment process is the improvement of courses, curriculum, instruction, or any institutional practices that affect student learning and development. The final step, improvement, “closes the loop” from setting student learning outcomes (SLOs), to assessing learning, to implementing improvements. At CSP, improvements take place annually based on faculty review of student learning assessment results. Plans for improvements are part of the Annual Report for each program.

Institutions that are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, as CSP is, are required to document and provide evidence for the teaching and assessment practices that lead to improved learning. Colleges and universities are increasingly turning to technological tools to support and manage those documentation efforts. CSP uses Blackboard in most programs to record and aggregate faculty assessment of student learning outcomes.

Everyone involved in the educational process at CSP has responsibilities for assessment. Some of those responsibilities are listed below.

    • Assessment of the learning of individual students, classes as a group/section, and the course as a whole
    • Assessment of the effectiveness of specific learning activities (tests, papers, projects, discussions) in helping students achieve course objectives, in helping the course succeed in its objectives, and in contributing to the effectiveness of the program it supports (e.g. General Education, major, minor, licensure, etc.)
    • Timely completion of scoring of assessments (e.g., in Blackboard) and regular use of assessment results for program and course improvements.
    • Contributions to the assessment of the majors and programs by participation in departmental assessment efforts.
    • Seeking greater facility and application of assessment strategies.
    • Leadership in assessing the effectiveness of departmental courses in meeting the goals of the program (major, general education, licensure, etc.)
    • Oversight of faculty meeting assessment scoring expectations
    • Use of assessment results for improvements in curriculum and instruction
    • Leadership in the assessment of the department’s majors and programs
    • Writing of annual reports or delegating that task to department members
    • Making greater understanding and application of assessment strategies a part of professional development
    • Semester review of assessment activities of college departments.
    • Oversight of Blackboard set-up by programs in the college
    • Advising college faculty of appropriate assessment strategies and models; giving feedback for the improvement of assessment practices
    • Promoting and supporting faculty development activities related to assessment
    • Development of policies and practices to promote effective assessment processes
    • Leadership in the assessment of university programs
    • Providing resources for assessment practice
    • Use of assessment results for improvements in programs and departments
    • Use of assessment results for strategic planning and budget decisions
    • Making greater understanding and application of assessment strategies a part of professional development

Additional Information

  • Annual Reports are completed by faculty for each program in June of each year. The Annual Report includes a section where assessments of program and institutional learning outcomes are described, results analyzed, improvements planned, and previous improvement results reported. Current forms are located in Annual Report & Program Review Resources.


    College of Business and Technology
    Cheryl Kelly,
     Assessment Coordinator, [email protected]

    College of Education
    Kelly Sadlovsky, Assessment Coordinator, [email protected]

    College of Health and Science
    Sam Haag, Assessment Coordinator, [email protected]

    College of Humanities and Social Science
    Kim Flottemesch,
     Assessment Coordinator,  [email protected]

    College of Human Services and Behavioral Sciences
    Julie Luker, Assessment Coordinator, [email protected]

    Institutional Research
    Beth Peter, 
    Director of Institutional Research, [email protected]

    Learning Management Systems
    Kate Thomson, LMS Representative, [email protected]

    Associate Vice President for Assessment and Accreditation
    Miriam Luebke, Chair,  [email protected]

    What is the role of the Assessment Council?

    The Faculty bylaws outline the responsibilities of the Assessment Council as follows:

    Assessment Council Membership and Structure

    1. College Assessment Coordinator:  One faculty member appointed by the dean of each college, with workload weight assigned through the dean in consultation with the chief academic officer
    2. Faculty appointments will serve three-year terms, with possibility for renewal
    3. Chair appointed by the chief academic officer
    4. Director of Institutional Research, ex officio
    5. Vice President for Academic Affairs, ex officio
    6. The assessment of learning process and the work of the assessment council will be reviewed every three years by external consultants (e.g., from Concordia University System or local area institutions, or as part of accreditation visits)
    7. This council is a member of the Office of Academic Affairs and reports directly to the Vice President for Academic Affairs

    Responsibilities of the Assessment Council

    1. Pursue assessment-related activities that contribute to the assessment and improvement of the quality of undergraduate and graduate education at Concordia University, St. Paul
    2. Be an advisory council with workload responsibilities, reporting to the Vice President of Academic Affairs
    3. Promote, coordinate, and oversee campus-wide assessment of learning activities
    4. Promote and support faculty development activities related to assessment of learning
    5. Annually review the assessment activities of academic units
    6. Recommend appropriate assessment strategies and models to academic constituents
    7. Recommend additional areas of learning to be assessed

    Responsibilities of Assessment Council Members

    1. Provide leadership for assessment of learning in his/her respective college
    2. Participate in the preparation and implementation of faculty development regarding assessment of learning
    3. Provide feedback to faculty and departments in his/her respective college regarding the fit of their assessment practices with the institutional assessment plan
    4. Be a resource to faculty in his/her respective college regarding current assessment practices and expectations
    5. Acquire training in Higher Learning Commission (accreditation) criteria
    6. Attend bi-monthly meetings of the Assessment Council
  • CSP has implemented an institution-wide assessment process that uses Blackboard Outcomes and EAC Visual Data tools for the recording, aggregating, and reporting of student learning outcomes assessment.

    Student learning outcomes and standard rubrics for program and institution-level outcomes must be added to Blackboard by a system administrator. Use these forms for undergraduate and graduate program blackboard setup requests.

    Use the Timeline Map to plan which SLOs you will focus your analysis on each year. (You do not need to analyze results for each SLO each year.)

  • Students are asked to complete an online course evaluation form for each of their courses each term (the exceptions being some private lessons or capstone courses). Evaluations are made available to students only during the entire last week of classes and remain open until the day before grades are due. During this two week period, students receive a reminder – -sent to their CSP email box —  every four days.

    Three days after the evaluation period has closed, course instructors are sent a link directing them to the most recent course evaluation results.

    Directions for instructors to view evaluation results

    Directions for department chairs to view results of instructors in their department

    For questions regarding the course evaluation process, please contact Beth Peter, Director of Academic Computing ([email protected])

  • New program proposals are required by faculty policy (6.22 and 9.24) to include a plan for assessing program student learning outcomes (PSLOs). Please submit the following two forms (Plan and Map) to the Assessment Council Chair at the same time the program proposal is submitted to UPC or GPC:

  • Annual Reports

    Annual Reports are completed each year (due June 15) for each program by program faculty. Annual Reports cover key institutional indicators such as enrollment and retention, assessment of learning data, and goal setting and improvement planning.

    Comprehensive Program Review


    Comprehensive program reviews are conducted every five years by program faculty. 



    1. Affirm alignment with University mission and promise
    2. Enhance department/program-level quality
    3. Strengthen preparation of students
    4. Assure relevant curriculum
    5. Maximize resources
    6. Spur innovative thinking
    7. Meet challenges with new initiatives
    8. Inform University strategic plan

Please contact Dr. Miriam Luebke Associate VP for Assessment and Accreditation with questions. Email: [email protected]

“The key purposes of assessment are to ask important questions about student learning, to get some meaningful information on these questions, and to use the information for academic improvement.”

Rossman & El-Khawas, 1987