Loyola University Chicago

Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy

Assessment at Loyola

Learning Outcomes and Assessment Protocol—AY 2015–16

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. When it is embedded effectively within larger institutional systems, assessment can help us focus our collective attention, examine our assumptions, and create a shared academic culture dedicated to assuring and improving the quality of higher education.” (Thomas A. Angelo, AAHE Bulletin, November 1995, p.7).

“An assessment is a tool designed to observe students’ behavior and produce data that can be used to draw reasonable inferences about what students know.” (James W. Pellegrino, “The Challenge of Knowing What Students Know,”)

Why is Assessment Important to Loyola University Chicago?

As a research university, LUC views assessment as a natural concern of the scholar as teacher. We want to know what our students have learned, the means by which they learned, and the effectiveness of the learning process. As teacher-scholars, we must ask: “What evidence might we gather that our students, taken as a group, are in fact acceptably achieving the learning outcomes that we, the faculty of a given program, intend?" The pursuit of this question is how we learn what our students know and what they are able to do as the result of their course of study at our LUC.

Goals:

  1. To ensure that every academic program of learning at the undergraduate, core, major, minor, and graduate areas has articulated learning outcomes.
  2. To determine that each academic unit has methods in place to assess their stated outcomes.
  3. To establish a yearly reporting process at the unit and university level to provide supporting data on assessment of student learning for:
    • Periodic program review,
    • Reaccreditation processes,
    • Ongoing determination of how the unit is using the results of their assessment to improve instruction.
  4. To develop a culture of assessment throughout the university.
  5. To implement a cycle of high-quality direct assessment practices to support continuous curricular improvements.
  6. To revise the strategic assessment plan based on academic program findings and current applicable practices in assessment.

Responsibilities:

Each academic unit (college, school, department, program) and each distinct curricular program (core, values, major, minor, certificate, graduate, and post baccalaureate) is responsible for:

  • Developing measurable learning outcomes for students.
  • Implementing systems and processes to define and collect data on student learning, conduct both quantitative and qualitative analyses.
  • Ensuring timely dissemination of data and analyses for continuous improvement of practice.
  • Evaluating the collected data and determining how the information gleaned will be used to enhance programs and courses within the discipline.
  • Filing with the Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy the established learning outcomes and assessment procedures and any updates to those outcomes and plans.
  • Submitting an Annual Academic Assessment Report to the Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy by June 30. A suggested template for the plan can be found online. Reports should be filed via e-mail to assessment@luc.edu

Definitions:

  • Academic Unit. The term "unit" refers to such Academic Affairs structures as college or school, program, and department.
  • Program of Study. A combination of courses and related activities organized for the achievement of specific learning outcomes as defined by the institution. The term “program” is most often used as a conceptual umbrella that covers curricular programming at both the undergraduate and graduate level, including majors, minors, certificates, etc. This includes all doctoral and masters degrees; dual degrees; graduate specializations; baccalaureate majors and minors; core curriculum; values curriculum; certificates, including pre- and post-baccalaureate certificates; e-learning programs; and continuing education.
  • Classroom. The term "classroom," when used to describe the locus of teaching and learning, is broadly construed to include all of such loci, including, but not limited to, on-campus classrooms, on-line education, cohorts, off-campus sites, field placements, internships, practica, student teaching, research sites, and thesis and dissertation supervision.
  • Learning Outcome. A statement describing the knowledge, skills, values, dispositions, attitudes, and/or experiences that students should acquire through completion of a course or program of study. Intended learning outcomes should be stated in measurable terms (e.g. The student will be able to demonstrate effective communication skills and sensitivities).
  • Assessment Plan. The process to be used to collect evidence on student learning and use this information to improve learning. At a minimum, the plan should include: (a) statements of intended student learning, (b) measures of assessment (e.g. tools, rubrics), and (3) data collection and analysis processes.

Support:

Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy (FCIP). This office will oversee development and implementation of learning outcomes and assessment plans in all academic units. FCIP will establish a cycle of assessment and reporting, collect and maintain data on learning outcomes and assessment, and provide assistance to faculty and staff responsible for their unit’s learning outcomes and assessment activities. FCIP will also provide assessment advisement for co-curricular offices and programs. The Director of the Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy will have primary responsibility in this area, with support from the Coordinator of Assessment.

Guidelines for Assessment at Loyola:

  1. Unit Plan. Every academic unit and program of study will prepare an assessment plan, have it reviewed and approved at the college or school level, and ensure that the current plan is on file electronically with the FCIP.
  2. Learning Outcomes. Every academic unit and program of study will formulate and publish its intended student learning outcomes. Outcomes should be articulated for the unit as a whole and for each course or program of study within that unit.
  3. Monitoring Course-level Learning Outcomes. The administrator of each academic unit, such as Dean, Chairperson, Program Director, is responsible for ensuring that each course description and course syllabus include statements of intended student learning outcomes. Where multiple sections of the same course are offered, the administrator and faculty member teaching a section are responsible for instruction in support of the course learning outcomes.
  4. Assessing Student Learning. Each year academic units will conduct assessment of some component of their intended student learning outcomes. This should include both undergraduate and graduate assessment in units with such programs. It is not necessary or desirable to attempt to assess all outcomes of a course or program of study at the same time. The assessment report should be distributed to the relevant faculty and academic administrators for purposes of curricular review and improvement. An electronic copy of the assessment report should be filed with the FCIP.
  5. Core Curriculum Outcomes and Assessment. Every course approved for the University Core Curriculum will adhere to the approved learning outcomes of the curriculum and of each course approved for a component of the curriculum. Core courses must have both knowledge and skills outcomes, and learning activities in these courses must contribute to student learning of these outcomes. The Faculty Director of the University Core Curriculum is responsible for overseeing implementation of the core learning outcomes within the approved core courses. The faculty director will also develop and implement an assessment plan for each component of the curriculum.
  6. Use of Assessment Reports. In addition to using assessment results for continuous curricular improvements, assessment reports will also be reviewed in the cycle of Academic Planning Review, and reaccreditation processes.

Questions? Please contact assessment@luc.edu.