Learning Outcomes & Assessment

Terms of Reference


SFU's academic plan, and the NWCCU accreditation process, commit us to improving and diversifying the student academic experience. There are two methods that SFU could use to evaluate curriculum and to ensure that the outcomes of an academic program are defined clearly, communicated to students, and evaluated.

First, curricula should be reviewed on a regular basis, not only for content, but also for development of skills and learning experiences.

Second, development and assessment of learning outcomes at the course and program level will not only clarify the purpose of a program or course for students, but will also increase the accountability of the program.

SFU has long experience with the first process through regular curricular review and renewal, although the focus has been more on content than skills and experiences. However, to support our continuous improvement of student learning, the development and use of learning outcomes and their assessment should be established across courses, programs, Faculties and the University.

The Vice President, Academic has established the Learning Outcomes and Assessment Working Group to consider these issues, and to do the following:

  1. Draft principles to guide the establishment and use of learning outcomes for curricular assessment at SFU. (Note: this will not include evaluations of individual instructors)
  2. Identify academic units that currently use, or are in the process of developing, processes for learning outcomes assessment.
  3. Identify the curricular assessment  processes (regular and off-cycle) currently utilized in academic units.
  4. Review best-practice processes for establishing a learning outcomes assessment process, and recommend the most appropriate process for SFU.
  5. Recommend appropriate timelines and milestones for implementing learning outcomes assessment at SFU, bearing in mind the timeline for accreditation with NWCCU, the importance of a communication plan, and the need to take a consultative approach.
  6. Recommend how an ongoing process of learning outcomes assessment and curricular review could best be incorporated into current structures and processes at SFU.


The Working Group is comprised of the following academic and administrative members:

Paul Budra (Chair), Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
Mary-Ellen Kelm, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences / Graduate Studies
Peter Liljedahl, Faculty of Education / Graduate Studies
Kevin Stewart, Beedie School of Business
Glyn Williams-Jones, Faculty of Science
Sarah Dench, University Curriculum & Institutional Liaison
Chris Groeneboer, Teaching & Learning Centre
Susan Rhodes, University Curriculum & Institutional Liaison
Ilia Starr, Learning Outcomes & Assessment Project
Jessica Tilley, Institutional Research & Planning

The Working Group will be carrying out their work over the coming months, and it is anticipated that they will report to the VPA by the end of summer, 2012.

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