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University of Northern Iowa Learning Outcomes

Assessment of Academic Programs

Academic programs are reviewed at least once every seven years through the process of Academic Program Review. Student outcomes assessment plans and reports of the assessment of student learning are reviewed by members of the Committee on Academic Program Review as part of the Academic Program Review process. Departments collect and use assessment data for program improvement in between program reviews.

Assessment of Student Learning in Academic Programs

Each department is required to develop statements of intended student learning outcomes for each academic program area, along with a plan for assessing student learning in the program. Information gathered from assessment of student learning is used to make changes at the course and curriculum level in order to increase levels of student performance for the stated outcomes.

Assessment practice at UNI is guided by the Student Outcomes Assessment Policy Statement that was first published for the campus in April 1991 and updated in 2007. The policy directs departments to develop a plan for assessment of student learning for each academic program area at UNI that includes:

*Assessment philosophy and program goals

*Student outcomes and competencies

*Frequency of assessments

*Assessment methods

*Methods of evaluating and interpreting results

*Procedures for making use of information obtained from assessment processes in order to implement program and/or curricular improvements. 

Faculty from program areas are encouraged to collect both direct and indirect evidence of student learning, and programs may select the mix of assessment strategies that best fit their disciplines and intended learning outcomes. Some approaches that have been used include surveys of graduating seniors, employers, and/or alumni; exit interviews with seniors; standardized testing or certification testing, such as the CPA Examination; student papers, research, projects, performances or portfolios of student work.

Some examples of direct measures of student learning include the following:

*In addition to their student teaching experience, education majors do an in-depth analysis of their teaching in a specific unit which includes evaluation of their students’ learning and how it might have been improved and a reflection on their teaching.

*Papers written by history majors in an introductory history course and in a course taken by seniors are compared to see how students have grown in their ability to understand, analyze and write about historical events.

*The performance of social work majors in social work placements are evaluated by both the students and by their social work agency field instructor.

*Finance majors develop written responses to financial management cases and make an oral presentation in class, both of which are evaluated according to desired learning outcomes for the major.

*Theater majors in production design collect and present work that demonstrates their ability to create lighting, costume, or scenic design for a play, based on an analysis of the script and research to support their design concept.

*Physics majors in the Bachelor of Science program complete a guided research project and make oral and written presentations of their work.

Academic programs are required to report on assessment activity on an annual basis. The annual report includes 1) a review of actions taken in response to the previous year’s report of assessment activity, 2) information gained from assessments of student learning for the reporting year, and 3) action steps to be taken for improvement of student learning in response to what was revealed by the assessments. Assessment reports are provided to department heads, college Deans, and the Office of Undergraduate Studies.

Assessment of Learning in the Liberal Arts Core (General Education Program)

In addition to assessment of student learning in program areas within academic departments, student learning in the Liberal Arts Core is also assessed.  Overall learning in the Core has been assessed with the use of data from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), Proficiency Profile from Education Testing Services, and the Graduating Senior Survey. Direct assessment of learning outcomes for individual categories within the Liberal Arts Core is conducted through a program review process.  Committees made up of faculty members who teach courses in the specific category areas determine learning outcomes that apply to all courses within the Category, identify student work to use for assessment purposes, and then evaluate the work using modified VALUE rubrics from AAC&U.  Assessment data are maintained by the Director of Undergraduate Studies and shared with the UNI Faculty Senate.

UNI has administered Proficiency Profile, formerly known as MAPP, from 2006 through 2013. Value-added analysis of scores for critical thinking and writing for first-time, first-year students and seniors has shown an increase in learning for these areas that is at or near what would be expected at an institution testing students of similar academic abilities.