Levels of Assessment - Southwestern Illinois College

The assessment process begins by identifying the outcomes of student learning – at the level of the individual class and across course sections; within a discipline/program; and across the institution. Outcomes at each of those levels will identify what students should know and do as a result of the experience.

Classroom/Course Assessments

Classroom Level

A faculty member typically assesses student learning on a regular basis to determine the level of student understanding and application of taught material. Classroom level assessment can include formative measures, in the form of Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs). Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) provide timely feedback to the faculty member allowing for immediate classroom adjustments to improve student success, but are often not reports for assessment results. The college offers training in
CATs through faculty development training at the beginning of each semester.

Course Level

Course level assessment of student proficiency aligns with each of the course objectives, and can be more summative measures. Summative measures can include final course projects, performance-based assessments (ie: practical examinations, student portfolios, recitals), examinations, embedded test questions across multiple course offerings, or an assessment activity given to all course sections regardless as to mode of delivery or faculty leading course. Results of these course level assessments are shared with corresponding faculty, program coordinator(s), or department chair(s) for collaborative efforts to occur to improve instruction and quality of student learning opportunities. Course level assessments
may be included as part of the program/discipline review process.

Discipline/Program Level

In collaboration with full-time, adjunct, part-time, and dual credit faculty, a department chair or program coordinator leads discipline/program level assessment. Discipline/program level assessment efforts are conducted to determine student knowledge, skills, and attitudes relative to a department’s or program’s student learning outcomes. Course level assessment should align with discipline/program level student learning outcomes. Discipline/Program level assessment results and recommendations aim to strengthen instruction. They are a necessary part of the Program Review process.


Refer to the course objectives to know what the students will be able to know, do, and think/behave (attitudes) after completing a course.
Determine assessment measures to determine if students are learning those objectives.

Instruction is adapted based on those assessments to assist students in successfully meeting the objectives of the course.

Course syllabi are available from Department Chairs/Program Coordinators/Deans.

Use the Course Syllabus Template to develop your course syllabus. To assure consistency in what is taught in all course locations, every faculty member follows the departmentally approved course syllabus. Every syllabus should be consistent with the master syllabus in the following areas:

  • Course Name & Number
  • Description
  • Objectives
  • Methods for evaluating student performance
  • Topical outline

Discipline / Program / Degree Level Assessments

A department chair, program coordinator/director, or degree champions facilitates assessment at this level. The assessments conducted are to assess student/graduate knowledge, skills, and attitudes/beliefs relative to educational goals identified by the program/discipline.

Steps for Assessment at the Discipline/Program/Degree level

  • Disciplines and programs/degrees have identified missions & measurable student performance educational goals specific to the discipline or program/degree. See Discipline and Program Assessment for submitted discipline & program mission & goals.
  • A minimum of one core competency skill from each of the core competency categories (Communication/Reasoning/
    Citizenship) is included in the program’s or discipline’s educational goals.
  • A curriculum map is submitted by every discipline, program/degree to identify the courses in which each of the educational goals are taught within the program/degree or discipline.
  • Courses that are identified on a curriculum map should have clear course objectives that are related to meeting the discipline, program/degree educational goals.
  • Results of assessment are shared with the faculty within the area, are analyzed and recommendations are made. Reports of assessment are submitted on an Assessment of Student Learning Report to the OA Coordinator for review by the Disciplines Committee and included in the program review process.
  • Assessment of each of the educational goals occurs frequently enough to identify trends – a minimum of every 2 years is recommended for each skill the program/degree or discipline identifies.
  • All program/degree or discipline goals & core competencies are evaluated within a 5 year period. The Assessment Cycle Report form is used to report a timeline of when the assessments will occur.
  • Refer to the OA Handbook regarding determining sample size for assessments that involve a large group of students.

Institutional General Education Core Competency Level Assessment

The core competencies are assessed at the institutional level based on an established timeline – See the OA Handbook for the timeline.

Utilizing the core competency curriculum maps and random sampling to identify potential courses involved in the assessment, the OA coordinator collaborates with the teaching faculty to collect student work (artifacts) related to the assessment.

The work is reviewed using a common rubric by a team of faculty.

The faculty are trained in using the rubric (instrument) to assure consistency in the assessment conducted by the various team members.

A standardized nationally normed purchased test is another option for assessment at the institutional level as well as student surveys, ie., Community College Survey of Student Engagement.

Every discipline, program/degree identifies a minimum of one competency from each of the three core general education competency categories:

Communication Skills Category

  • Writing
  • Oral Communication
  • Computer Literacy

Reasoning Skills Category

  • Critical Thinking
  • Quantitative Literacy

Citizenship Category

  • Civic & Social Accountability
  • Personal Accountability

The results of the assessment are shared with the General Education Committee as well as the Curriculum Committee to discuss and reflect on findings, trends, and any recommendations regarding improvements or follow up.

Reports of assessment are submitted on an Assessment of Student Learning Report to the OA Coordinator for review by the Disciplines Committee and included in the program review process.

Collection and Storage of Student Data

Raw data collected for the purpose of assessing student learning within the department or program will be stored within the department or program area. If any clarification is required, the department chair/program coordinator will provide the necessary documentation. Only compiled and interpreted data collected will be shared with the entire college community.

Raw data collected institutionally for the purpose of assessing student learning of the Core Competencies will be stored within the Outcomes Assessment office. Any identifying marks on the samples will be removed. Any unused data will be destroyed.