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University of Nevada, Reno Learning Outcomes

The University of Nevada, Reno Student Outcomes Assessment Plan identifies academic-degree programs and certificate programs as the focal units and clearly calls for all such programs to engage in an ongoing cycle of assessment. This cycle begins with an assessment plan (reviewed every fall) and culminates with faculty decisions regarding program modifications to enhance student learning, as published in an annual report. In outcomes-based assessment at University of Nevada, Reno, we seek to document student learning in relation to the goals and expectations of degree programs, colleges and divisions, and the university, including the Core Curriculum, and to collect evidence for measuring student learning in all phases of the university education.

Assessment of Academic Programs
The University of Nevada, Reno offers more than 180 graduate and undergraduate degree programs. All programs are required to develop a plan to assess their learning outcome, to determine the current effectiveness of their curriculum or identify areas for modification, and to submit annual, quantitative and qualitative assessment reports to the University Assessment Coordinator.  This process requires departmental assessment coordinators and faculty members to complete the following steps:

  1. Developing/modifying program assessment plans, including learning outcomes, methods of assessing these outcomes, and benchmarks for student success and failure in meeting these outcomes
  2. Measuring these outcomes and reporting on student success and failure with quantitative data
  3. Identifying key findings in assessment results
  4. Describing subsequent program modifications under consideration
  5. Describing actual program modifications made to enhance student learning.

The success of the University’s academic programs in completing this annual assessment cycle allows for the holistic assessment of the institution: using, that is, assessment reports from individual programs, the University Assessment Coordinator collates and analyzes program reports, institutional assessment data, and other relevant direct and indirect data to report on mission fulfillment and the University’s Core Themes.

The University collects and maintains documentary evidence for institutional and program assessment reporting. The assessment infrastructure, managed by the Assessment Coordinator, includes:

  • Assessment guidelines, templates, examples, and specific tools, offered to all programs as support materials online and at campus workshops and meetings
  • An assessment site, on which plans are posted for faculty members and the general public, as well as a password-protected site for the University community and registered guests to view assessment reports
  • Institutional data and a searchable online database enabling programs to obtain indirect assessment data specific to their respective programs, e.g., alumni and employer survey data arranged and searchable by the University, college, department, and individual program levels
  • Individual support offered to each program in workshops for various assessment topics and meetings with program and department faculty, Assessment Coordinators, department chairs, and Associate Deans
  • A cadre of Assessment Coordinators, faculty members designated by each program to facilitate assessment within the program, and Associate Deans, who serve as assessment liaisons for their colleges and divisions to the Provost’s Office
  • The collection and online publication of institution-wide data from such assessment tools as the National Survey of Student Engagement, learning-gains examinations, and alumni and employer surveys that have been developed and refined over several years
  • Assessment data collected and published from Student Services and University of Nevada, Reno libraries.

General Education Assessment
The function of a university education is not only to prepare students for successful careers in their chosen fields but also to provide them with the knowledge and skills to develop a personal identity, to introduce them to a variety of perspectives from which to grasp the complexity of experience, and to help them gain an appreciative understanding of the natural and cultural environments in which they live and their roles as responsible citizens of the world, the nation, and the state. The Core Curriculum is designed to help fulfill these objectives throughout the undergraduate program. A student successfully completing Core Curriculum objectives (required of all undergraduates) at University of Nevada, Reno will be able to:

  1. Compose and communicate effectively in a range of media for a variety of rhetorical and creative purposes
  2. Demonstrate an ability to frame and analyze a problem, find and interpret relevant information, develop and evaluate possible solutions, come to well-grounded conclusions, and craft an appropriate argument, report, application, or other expression of such inquiry
  3. Understand and apply the knowledge, perspectives, principles, and modes of reasoning employed in the fine arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics
  4. Understand how the knowledge, perspectives, principles, and modes of reasoning embodied in the fine arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics have contributed to human achievement
  5. Develop habits of mind that foster integrative thinking and the ability to transfer knowledge and skills from one setting to another
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of the concepts of culture and cultural difference, and develop the habits of mind that allow for intercultural understanding and responsible individual and social choices for citizens of the global community.

Multiple assessment designs are employed to evaluate effectiveness of the Core Curriculum. These assessment data are carefully reviewed and analyzed to design and implement modifications that will enhance student learning and benefits. The process of continuous quality improvement, under the guidance of the Core Curriculum Board and the Director, include the following assessment designs:

  • Completion of portfolio assessment in Core Writing, as well as direct and indirect assessment activities in Core Humanities and Core Math
  • Development of Student Learning Outcomes and assessment methods for knowledge and skills imparted by the Core, in preparation for a new competencies-based Core Curriculum to be implemented in the fall of 2016
  • Travel funds for professional development at national General Education assessment conferences and grants for the development of new Core courses and assessment plans.


Learning Assessment Examples