Department/Program-level Assessment Resources

First, why?

Assessment has gained popularity these days, but those of us in education know we have been doing it for decades, centuries, maybe an eternity. We are constantly assessing learners’ knowledge and skills, sharing information and ideas, and developing our own professional expertise and contribution. This may be done in our intellectual reflections or with formal scoring tools or a myriad of places in between. At Bates, we believe great things are happening in the learning experiences of students, faculty, staff and administration. One reason we are assessing is to document this greatness. Another reason is to see what we need to do to maintain this greatness. And there are times and people for whom learning experiences are not so great, so we need to understand and improve in those ways as well.  A few voices from the field about why we are assessing can be heard in the list of links below:

Why are we assessing? – Linda Suskin, Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Who are we assessing & for what purpose? – AAC&U

Assessment for Whom? – Wall, Hursh & Rodgers, 2014

Understanding Where You Are (aka Using Data)

Academic units should identify their key department/program goals or “burning questions” to engage in thoughtful reflection and analysis for productive improvement. Once these collective questions have been established by the faculty, information should be collected to build a common understanding of the needs and current situation. This is where the Learning Assessment Specialist can support your work! I can…

  • identify the types of unit-level institutional data available (enrollment, demographics, honors thesis, senior survey, first-year survey)
  • explore methods for collecting empirical data (focus groups, surveys, individual interviews, self-assessments, curriculum audit, document review)
  • conduct data collection and analysis
  • create data visualizations to highlight key findings
  • share ideas and resources to support next steps of implementing improvement

Department/Program Learning Goals/Objectives

Academic departments and programs at Bates College have communicated their learning goals and/or objectives within their webpages. The college has also shared its overall mission, goals and aims in various documents, including the Institutional Plan. In addition to these examples of departmental/program or institutional learning goals at Bates, the following list offers a highlight of external samples or related resources:

Assessment Plan & Inventory – Leech Lake Tribal College (2016)

What Faculty Unions Say… – NILO (Gold, et al., 2011)

Program Learning Goals & Objectives – St. Joseph’s University

 Curriculum Mapping

Once departments/programs and faculty have developed learning goals and objectives, the next step is to map the learners’ pathways through their educational experience to examine their interaction with these objectives. Mapping also creates transparency, so students may answer questions such as, ‘Why would I want to take this course?’ or ‘Why would I want to major in this discipline?’ Curriculum mapping in itself does not guarantee great educational experiences, but it can be a tool to better reflect on learners’ experiences and explicate opportunities for students. Importantly, it should a process adapted by the educators using it to meet their goals and needs.

Curriculum Mapping: A Conceptual Framework & Practical Illustration (Matveev et al., 2010)

Curriculum Mapping in Higher Education… (Arafeh, 2015)

Curriculum Mapping in Higher Education… (Pippin Uchiyama & Radin, 2008)


For more resources, information or ways in which our office can support your department/program learning assessment work, contact Kika Stump at or 207.786.8220.