Assessment Plan

The Assessment Plan is a multi-year plan for assessing program outcomes.  It lists all program outcomes and direct and indirect assessments that will be used to measure each outcome.  For new programs at USF, the first Assessment Plan is submitted in October, following approval of the program from the Board.  For existing programs, the Assessment Plan is typically submitted the year after a program review or an accreditation year.

template of the Assessment Plan is available on the Assessment Committee’s Portal site.  Accredited programs may also use assessment templates recommended by their accrediting agency.

The Assessment Plan describes how each outcome will be measured, and it contains the following sections:

Assessment Plan

Assessment Plan, showing program outcomes, direct and indirect measures for each outcome, and a schedule of assessments.  Click for larger image.

Program Information

The first section of the Assessment Plan provides information about the program.  This information includes the name of the program and the academic department, the contact person for the program, and the mission statement for the program or department.

Program Outcomes

The next section of the Assessment Plan lists all program-level student learning outcomes.  Most programs have about four to eight outcomes.  It is important that these statements are “student learning outcomes” that describe what students will learn in the program; the statements should not be department OGSM goals or strategies or accreditation standards.  Write program outcomes as they appear on the approved UCC P-Form or the USF Catalog.

The document also requires that each outcome is aligned to an OGSM goal (either university-level, college-level, or department-level) or to an accreditation standard.  This alignment will help the program provide evidence for future OGSM, program review, and accreditation reports.

Assessment Instruments/Measures

The Assessment Plan lists “direct” and “indirect” assessments for each program outcome.

  • Direct assessments provide evidence of student learning through student-produced materials.  These include exams/quizzes, essays, projects, lab reports, clinical assignments, presentations, capstone projects, portfolios, artwork, etc.  Direct assessments can also include licensing exams, skills tests such as the ETS Proficiency Profile, clinical observations, and internship evaluations.
  • Indirect assessments provide reflections or perceptions of learning.  Examples include student reflections on learning (such as a “minute paper,” an internship reflection, a clinical or service-learning reflection), end-of-semester course evaluation surveys (such as IDEA), exit interviews, alumni surveys, employer surveys, and external surveys such as NSSE, Noel-Levitz, and the Campus Climate survey.

When identifying assessments, aim to include a mix of direct and indirect assessments and also a mix of internal (USF-generated) and external (non-USF-generated) assessments.  For each assessment, also include a “benchmark” or “target.”  For example:  “Final Exam in MATH 201, target of at least 80% of class to score 80% or higher.”  This explicit target will help instructors analyze the assessment data for the yearly assessment report.

Assessment Schedule

The next section provides a three-year assessment schedule.  This section aligns program outcomes with years when assessment data will be collected and assessed.  At USF, many programs assess two to three outcomes per year; in this case, Outcomes 1 & 2 may be assessed in Year 1, Outcomes 3 & 4 in Year 2, and Outcomes 5 & 6 in Year 3.  Some programs have to assess each outcome more than once during an assessment cycle; in this case, the assessment cycle may be four years, and the outcome/assessment may be repeated every other year.  And, in some cases, the program has to assess every outcome every year.

For non-accredited programs, the USF Assessment Committee recommends a three-year assessment cycle that assesses all program outcomes over three years.  Accredited programs may implement assessment plans that are recommended by their accrediting agency.

Curriculum Map

Curriculum Map

The Curriculum Map aligns program outcomes with courses, and it identifies the level at which the content will be taught (introduced, reinforced, or mastered).  Click for larger image.

The final section of the Assessment Plan is the Curriculum Map.  The Curriculum Map lists all program outcomes on the left, and it identifies (on the right side of the table) courses that develop that outcome.  For example, Outcome 1 may be developed in MATH 101, MATH 105, MATH 205, and MATH 330.

Additionally, each course also identifies the level at which that outcome is developed.  These are indicated as “Introduced,” “Developed” (or “Reinforced”), and “Mastered.”  Lower-level courses introduce skills and content, while higher-level courses help students master the skill or content knowledge.  These development levels are useful for setting benchmarks/targets and for assessing outcomes.  For example, use a “pre-test” in a lower-level course where the material is introduced, and use a “post-test” or “summative assessment” in an upper-level course where the material is mastered.


For more information about Assessment Plans, contact your college’s faculty representative on the Assessment Committee, or contact the Dean of Teaching & Learning Outcomes.  Click on the Assessment tag below or go to the Teach+Assess Blog to read more posts about academic assessment.

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