Paul Budra says developing a student learning outcomes assessment program is a requirement for NWCUU accreditation, “but more importantly, it’s about clarity to our students.”

Working group to assess learning outcomes

October 06, 2011
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VP Academic Jon Driver has tapped arts and social sciences faculty associate dean, Paul Budra, to head a new working group to evaluate the learning outcomes of academic programs and courses to ensure they are clearly defined and communicated to students.

Budra says developing a coherent and comprehensive program of student learning outcomes assessment is a requirement for NWCCU accreditation.

“But more importantly, it’s about clarity to our students. They want learning outcomes so they know what they are getting from courses, and out of their degree programs.”

He adds, a more sophisticated assessment system will also help faculties and departments justify expenditures and align their programming with the goals of the current academic plan.

Budra says the group’s membership and terms of reference are still being finalized. But he says in order to accomplish its objectives, the working group will:

  • Review the current curricular assessment processes and course and program learning outcomes.
  • Identify the criteria necessary to determine effective models for curricular assessment.
  • Review best-practice curricular assessment processes at other universities.
  • Provide academic units with guidance, referral to resources, tools and training to implement and assess ongoing improvements against outcomes.
  • Identify academic units appropriate for piloting any new processes identified.
  • Make recommendations to the VP Academic and deans regarding assessment processes and planning.

Budra attended a conference on using assessment to improve and account for student learning in Texas last spring with other SFU faculty and academic administrators involved in assessment and accreditation.

And he says the group will continue to look south for inspiration. “The Americans have been doing this for a long time so they have all sorts of best practices and models in place.

And I’m hoping they will be helpful in starting to think about how we can adapt and apply similar practices and models here. Some departments are already doing learning outcomes evaluation. It’s part of their culture. But for others it will be a learning curve."

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