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Assessment of Student Learning


Core Assessment Committee Resources

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A General Framework for Assessment of Student Learning at Cornell

The Core Assessment Committee serves as the central organizational structure responsible for promoting assessment at Cornell.  Its Chair is the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs. Its membership consists of an Assessment Liaison from each College and School (generally, an assistant or associate dean), the University Assessment Manager, and representatives from the Center for Teaching Excellence, the Dean of Students Office, and the Office of Institutional Research and Planning.

The Committee provides leadership, oversight, and coordination for assessment activities across the university. As an advisory and policy body, it monitors, updates, and conducts periodic reviews of the university's educational goals and of assessment efforts within the colleges, schools, and other units on campus that contribute to the attainment of those goals. It serves as a vehicle for communication, documenting curriculum changes and facilitating information sharing across units. It makes recommendations regarding institutional data collection and analysis, technological interfaces that support assessment, and support for faculty to translate their educational goals into teaching practice to improve student learning.

In recognition of the size and complexity of the University, the Core Assessment Committee asks colleges, schools, and departments to develop assessment plans consistent with their programmatic emphasis and specific goals. While there is flexibility in format, all assessment plans must address a series of essential points. These relate to the educational goals or objectives of a course or program, opportunities for students to achieve those goals, assessments of how well the goals have been attained, and clear mechanisms by which ongoing improvements may be made.

Assessment is an integral and essential part of teaching and learning. Ongoing curriculum changes aimed at improving the quality of student learning reflect our commitment to excellence, advances in disciplinary knowledge and technology, and our collective responsiveness to feedback from students. All of this work is fundamental to the intellectual life of faculty who teach. The Core Assessment Committee believes that assessment activities are best achieved and will have the most meaningful impact when they are centered in the colleges and schools and are "owned" by the faculty.

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Guiding Principles for the Assessment of Courses that Meet Requirements for More Than One Major

All colleges and schools accept a shared responsibility for service courses, in the sense that it is the responsibility of each college and school to provide for assessment of service courses that it offers.

Except for the Knight Institute, the particular departments/programs (here for the purpose of this plan we include the OUB as a single program) that offer these courses are responsible for assessing the course. This process should be folded into (or peeled off of) their assessment process for their major. In regard to these courses, each department/program should include the following information in the assessment plans for courses that serve to fulfill distribution requirements or that serve other programs or colleges in significant ways:

  1. How does this course fulfill the distribution requirement/general studies requirement, science requirement, or other requirement that it is designated to fulfill?
  2. Which of the course learning outcomes applies to that category?
  3. How are these particular outcomes assessed?
  4. What improvements have been made, based on the information gained from the assessment of this course?
  5. Learning outcomes for service courses—and in the future, all courses—will be available through the online course catalog (Acalog), which will be a resource for colleges and programs whose students utilize these courses.

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Assessment of Courses Offered by the Knight Institute

The Knight Institute, because of its interdisciplinary nature, has developed an assessment plan that is operative within the program itself but that also engages the departments where its courses are offered.

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Guiding Principles for the Assessment of General Education Outcomes

As with courses that meet requirements for more than one major, any courses that fulfill General Education requirements should have their own assessment plans in place, so that others can contact faculty in charge of those courses for more detail when they assess any outcomes that rely on those courses.

The Core Assessment Committee will work with the colleges, schools and other units on campus to periodically assess the degree to which the university-wide learning outcomes are being achieved. Evidence will be drawn from the assessment plans of a core set of courses in several disciplines, the Knight Institute, and the assessment plans developed by student services professionals on campus, which encompass a range of co-curricular activities.

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Guidelines for Adding Examples to the Student Learning website

Examples from the colleges should illustrate how the university-wide and college level learning goals are being met. They may be drawn from formal coursework, special projects, or extracurricular activities. Additional content is always welcome, and will help to keep the website fresh.

When submitting new content, please include:

  1. A descriptive blurb (288 characters, or approx. 35 words) indicating which university or college-level learning goals the example illustrates.
  2. A link to related content.
  3. If possible, a suggested photo or video content. (please note: Web Communications staff will make final decisions regarding which photos fit the format)
  4. Your contact information, in case we have questions.

Please send examples to Amy Bond (apb76) in Web Communications, or to Kathy Edmondson (kme2) for forwarding.

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