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Assurance of Student Learning Measurements


Measurement Instruments and Evidence

The instrument is the method programs use to measure how well students in the program have achieved the SLO.  One mistake that some programs have understandably made is using course grades as an instrument.  While grades can indicate success or failure in a course, they lack precision and are not appropriate for measuring SLOs.  SACSCOC requires us to use DIRECT measures of student learning. Typically, programs will use a rubric to examine written work, presentations, licensure/national board exams, juried performances, oral exams/presentations, capstone course artifacts, portfolios, nationally-normed exams or boards, graduate written exams, thesis defenses, simulations, e-portfolios, ratings of students by faculty field-experience supervisors.  The Association of American Colleges and Universities has developed a series of rubrics that can be adapted (with attribution) to help measure student success on each outcome.  You must submit each rubric you use to measure student success.  Detailed information about each measurement instrument should be included.  For example, if a project has multiple components, a list of the sections or content areas provides information to demonstrate linkage with the SLO.

Please note the following:

  • Job or graduate school attainment are not appropriate direct instruments to measure how well students in the program have achieved the SLO (just as job/graduate school attainment are not effective SLOs). For example, “80% of program graduates are employed in the field or are accepted into a graduate program in the field” is NOT a direct measure of achievement of the SLO.
  • Using nationally standardized exams may be valid as long as subscale scores that directly link to a specific SLO are provided by the testing agency. Otherwise, standardized exams may suffer from the same lack of precision as course grades.
  • A student’s perception of mastery provides indirect evidence of SLO achievement. While it may be interesting to learn the extent to which students believe they have mastered a particular SLO, additional direct evidence must be provided.
  • Remember to include the actual rubric you use for each learning outcome and clearly label the specific learning outcome you measured with the rubric, especially if you are using multiple rubrics in your process.

Here is a helpful resource:

AAC&U VALUE Rubrics: The VALUE Rubrics are FREE and available for download. They are also customizable – the website explains how to use the rubrics.


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 Last Modified 3/12/20