Northwestern has developed a consistent and ongoing process for the evaluation of student learning. At the program level, assessment of student learning is faculty-driven, with support from academic administrators and the Office of Assessment.
In Fall 2011, a retreat was held with division and department chairs, along with key faculty, to shift the focus of academic assessment from program goals to the evaluation of student learning outcomes. Program faculty used a guide, presented by the Office of Assessment, to develop student learning outcomes that are reflective of the upper cognitive levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. In addition, faculty discussed how to utilize multiple methodologies, both direct and indirect, in assessing student learning. Finally, faculty discussed how to analyze data and reflect on their findings in order to determine whether or not program modifications should be made to improve student learning.
Subsequent faculty forums have been implemented bi-annually with the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Academic Deans, and the Director of Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness, guiding faculty in exercises that help them to share best practices and discuss ways to improve the assessment process.