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Northern Illinois University Learning Outcomes

All colleges and universities use multiple approaches to measure student learning. Many of these are specific to particular disciplines, many are coordinated with accrediting agencies, and many are based on outcomes after students have graduated. 




Northern Illinois University administered the AAC&U VALUE Rubrics in 2014 - 2015.

Northern Illinois University conducted a Value-added administration of the AAC&U VALUE Rubrics in 2014 - 2015. The results are displayed below in the SLO Results tab.

For additional information on NIU’s process for administering AAC&U VALUE Rubrics, please click on the Assessment Process Tab below. For information on the students included in the administration, please click the Students Tested Tab.

Why did you choose the AAC&U VALUE Rubrics for your institutional assessment?

Northern Illinois University chose to use the AAC&U VALUE Rubrics because they offer an authentic measure of students' critical thinking and writing abilities. 


Which Northern Illinois University students are assessed? When?

A targeted sample of 350 freshmen writing samples are assessed in the Fall semester and another sample of 350 senior writing samples are assessed in the Spring semester.


How are assessment data collected?

The Office of Assessment Services works with First-Year Composition to solicit the freshman writing samples in the fall. Senior writing samples are solicited from the six academic departments across the university. Many of the faculty providing papers participate in Writing Across the Curriculum.


How are data reported within Northern Illinois University ?

Freshman writing samples are analyzed by a team of scorers in the English department in the Fall. Senior writing samples are analyzed by a team of scorers in the English department in the Spring. Scores are submitted to the Office of Assessment Services, who aggregates the data for reporting and disseminates the results to the campus community.  Further, the Office of Assessment Services sends reports to the instructors, department chairs, and college offices regarding students in their class or program. 


How are assessment data at NIU used to guide program improvements?

The final reports generated by the Office of Assessment Services show areas in which students can improve. Individual programs add this information to other data they collect regarding student learning outcomes. They submit annual update reports to the Office of Assessment Services outlining their use of data to improve student learning.


Of 1655 freshmen students eligible to be tested, 275 (17%) were included in the tested sample at Northern Illinois University .


Of 5030 senior students eligible to be tested, 422 (8%) were included in the tested sample at Northern Illinois University .


Probability sampling, where a small randomly selected sample of a larger population can be used to estimate the learning gains in the entire population with statistical confidence, provides the foundation for campus-level student learning outcomes assessment at many institutions. It's important, however, to review the demographics of the tested sample of students to ensure that the proportion of students within a given group in the tested sample is close to the proportion of students in that group in the total population. Differences in proportions don't mean the results aren't valid, but they do mean that institutions need to use caution in interpreting the results for the groups that are under-represented in the tested sample.

Undergraduate Student Demographic Breakdown

  Freshmen Seniors
Eligible Students Tested Students Eligible Students Tested Students
Gender Female 45% 47% 48% 48%
Male 55% 53% 52% 52%
Other or Unknown <1% <1% <1% <1%
Race/
Ethnicity
US Underrepresented Minority 53% 46% 32% 27%
White / Caucasian 45% 51% 64% 68%
International 2% 3% 1% 2%
Unknown <1% 1% 3% 3%
Low-income (Eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant) 52% 47% 47% 42%
Area of Study Business 20% 19% 14% 12%
Education 8% 8% 10% 0%
Engineering 12% 12% 11% 20%
Health and Human Sciences 16% 20% 22% 31%
Liberal Arts and Sciences 29% 28% 38% 35%
Visual and Performing Arts 4% 3% 6% 1%
Other 11% 10% 0% 0%

The freshman sample well represented students across the colleges, by gender and ethnicity, but slightly underrepresented students with pell grants.

The senior student sample well represented students by gender, but slightly overrepresented students majoring in the health and human sciences, while underrepresenting students majoring in education. Minority students and those receiving pell grants were also slightly underrepresented.

ACT composite scores for both samples were well represented.

Going forward, recruitment efforts will continue to focus on more representative samples.

The VSA advises institutions to follow assessment publisher guidelines for determining the appropriate number of students to test. In the absence of publisher guidelines, the VSA provides sample size guidelines for institutions based on a 95% confidence interval and 5% margin of error. So long as the tested sample demographics represent the student body, this means we can be 95% certain that the "true" population learning outcomes are with +/- 5% of the reported results. For more information on Sampling, please refer to the Research Methods Knowledge Base

The charts below show the distribution of student scores on the AAC&U VALUE Rubrics for Written Communication and Critical Thinking. Blue bars represent freshmen student scores and red bars represent senior student scores. Students are scored at one of four levels: Benchmark, Milestone 1, Milestone 2, or Capstone. The Benchmark level is the leve l at which most incoming freshmen who begin college immediately after high school would perform. The Capstone level is the level at which senior students about to graduate would perform. All students, regardless of class standing, are scored on the same rubric against th e same criteria, so it is expected that the distribution for senior scores would be centered farther to the right (closer to the Capstone level) than the distribution for freshmen scores.

Critical Thinking Detail

The charts below show the distribution of student scores on the subscales of the Written Communication and Critical Thinking rubrics. Each rubric consists of five dimensions that students are rated on individually.

Written Communication Detail

The charts below show the distribution of student scores on the subscales of the Written Communication and Critical Thinking rubrics. Each rubric consists of five dimensions that students are rated on individually.