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Find out more about the characteristics of students who attend UAB.
See how many students applied, accepted, and enrolled at UAB. Learn more about students’ high school preparation and test scores.
Learn about costs to attend UAB and how much financial aid is typically awarded.
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Learn more about professors, where students live, and campus safety at UAB.
Discover ways to be actively involved in your education at UAB – inside and outside the classroom.
See which majors are most popular at UAB and what recent graduates plan to do after earning their bachelor's degree.
Discover how many students who start at UAB finish their bachelor's degree and how long it takes.
Figure out what learning gains to expect in critical thinking, writing, and other important subjects at UAB.
Assessing Student Learning Outcomes at UAB
Program Specific Learning Outcomes
Each academic program at UAB is required to assess student learning, whether it issues an undergraduate, graduate, or professional degree. These results are reported using WEAVEonline, which facilitates review and internal information dissemination. Development of the learning outcomes, measures, targets, findings, and action plans are the responsibility of the program faculty. The process is as follows:
The faculty of each academic program, possibly by committee, was responsible for developing three to five learning outcomes that are knowledge, behavior, or attributes that a graduate of their program is expected to demonstrate. Guidance was given that these learning outcomes should include action verbs from Bloom’s Taxonomy and be indicative of the expected level of advancement. These learning outcomes may be influenced by outside accrediting agencies for programs such as nursing, engineering, and education. Undergraduate programs were strongly encouraged to include learning outcomes that had elements of the 2005 Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), Quantitative Literacy, Writing, and Ethical/Civic Responsibility.
Attainment of the Learning Outcomes is measured by indirect methods, such as surveys, and direct methods, such as major field tests, professional licensure/registry examinations, and rubric-based work-product review. Utilization of multiple measures for each learning outcome, at least one of which is direct, has been considered good practice.
Since learning outcomes are typically stated as, “Graduates will…,” measurements are best made late in a student’s academic career. Programs typically use dissertation defenses, thesis defenses, undergraduate capstone reports/presentations, and/or professional licensure/registry examinations for this reason.
The target, or level of attainment, is determined by the program faculty based upon past findings and need for program improvement. Programs that consistently exceed targets are encouraged to increase them.
Data is typically collected annually by programs. These values are compared to targets to determine if the target is met, partially met, or not met.
An action plan must be developed if a target is not met. These action plans must have a strategy on how student learning will be enhanced and a date that attainment of that outcome will be remeasured. Action plans which advance the assessment process are also valid. In an effort to improve student learning, a minimum of three action plans has been set as a target for all programs, regardless of assessment results.
General Education Learning Outcomes
The Proficiency Profile (PP, previously known as MAPP) test of academic skills is used to measure student reading, writing, critical thinking and mathematics skills. Improvement in scores from freshman to junior year and junior-year scores are considered when evaluating student learning in these four major areas of student learning. This nationally administered, standardized examination allows UAB to compare our student’s skills to those of other universities.
Assessment of Writing has become an increasingly important part of Freshman Composition. Indirect measures of assessment (faculty interviews, surveys, analysis of a large data request on continuation and retention rates for students taking our classes, etc.) to help support the findings and provide context for direct assessment of student writing. National Council of Teachers of English Guidelines on Writing Assessment for direct assessment of student work-product are also being followed.
The majority of undergraduate programs map one or more of their learning outcomes to the QEP-based Quantitative Literacy and Writing outcomes, which in turn relate to General Education attainment. This assessment is critical since only the academic programs are able to measure the discipline-specific skill attainment. For example, the Proficiency Profile measures basic writing skills, but it is necessary for each program to determine if students are writing in an appropriate style and up to the standards of their profession.