Every academic program at the University of Colorado Boulder is required to regularly conduct assessment of student learning outcomes. By engaging in this process academic units may work towards a number of important goals:
- The primary benefit of assessment is greater understanding and improvement of student learning within the academic program.
- Assessment allows for program improvement and fulfills units’ responsibility to use evidence to inform interventions that are meaningful to their specific contexts.
- Program assessment helps units prepare for part of their Academic Review and Planning submission.
- Program assessment contributes to CU Boulder’s successful completion of Institutional Accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission.
The ODA Assessment team provides support for program level assessment at CU Boulder. If you are seeking assistance or resources regarding course level assessment, please visit the Center for Teaching and Learning.
The ODA Assessment team manages the program learning assessment process on behalf of the Vice Provost’s Office for Academic Planning & Assessment. As part of that process, ODA serves as a resource for units in their development and implementation of assessment plans, as well as coordinating the collection and storage of assessment plans and annual assessment reports for the university. Both graduate and undergraduate programs should engage in this process; currently the assessment team is focused primarily on undergraduate programs.
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The assessment timeline for an academic program occurs over a four-year period with the development of a three-year assessment plan occurring in the first year and the implementation of the 3-year plan occurring in years 2-4.
Some key dates over the four-year process are provided below
Year 0 (Assessment Planning): Development of three-year assessment plan
- December 1: Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) submitted to ODA and entered in the University catalog
- February 1: Curriculum mapping submitted to ODA
- April 1: Initial draft of complete assessment plan (including assessment methods) submitted to ODA for review
- May 15: Final draft of complete assessment plan submitted and approved by ODA
Years 1-3 (Implementation of Assessment Plan): Data collection and annual reporting
- Ongoing: Data collected and analyzed in accordance with assessment methods specified in assessment plan
- June 30 every year: Annual assessment report submitted to ODA. Note that at least one PLO must be assessed and reported each year, with all PLO’s assessed and reported by the third year.
The four-year timeline for each undergraduate program varies. Some academic programs began developing their assessment plans during the 2019-20 academic year. All undergraduate programs will have assessment plans developed by the end of the 2022-23 academic year. The timeline for undergraduate programs to develop assessment plans (i.e., “year 1”) is as follows:
- 2019-20: A&S Social Sciences
- 2020-21: Business, CMCI, Education and Engineering
- 2021-22: A&S Arts & Humanities and College of Music
- 2022-23: A&S Natural Sciences and Environmental Design
After the four-year assessment process is complete, the assessment cycle repeats with academic programs having an opportunity to modify/update their assessment plan in year 1 before the next three-year assessment period begins.
Assessment Plan template: This template is completed by academic programs during the first year of the assessment process to develop their three-year assessment plan. Using this template, programs provide their learning outcomes, curriculum map, assessment methodologies, and reporting timeline. We have also created Recommendations for Completing your Three-Year Student Learning Assessment Plan as a resource document.
- PDF (opens in browser—not fillable; use for viewing template only)
- Word document (downloadable—use for completing assessment exemption)
Assessment Report template: This template is completed annually by academic programs during years 2-4 of the assessment process to report their assessment efforts over the past academic year. Using this template, programs summarize the data that was collected and report their key findings and next steps for each of the program learning outcomes that were assessed that year.
Many academic programs regularly undergo review from an external body for accreditation or re-authorization. Programs that are required to document evidence of student learning for accreditation/re-authorization may be eligible to submit an assessment exemption to the ODA Assessment team in lieu of submitting an assessment plan. Additionally, these programs will provide the evidence of student learning from their accreditation/re-authorization report in lieu of submitting annual assessment reports.
Externally accredited programs should work with the ODA Assessment team to determine whether their accreditation process is sufficient to allow for an exemption from the learning outcomes assessment process that non-accredited programs undergo. This exemption will allow externally accredited programs to avoid duplicating assessment efforts.
Assessment Exemption template: