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Common Language

Assessment Plan - A document which identifies expected outcomes for a program and outlines how and when the identified outcomes will be assessed.  The Student Learning Outcomes for Academic Advising and the CAS Self-Assessment Guide for TAMU Academic Advising Programs both contain suggested outcomes.

Assessment Report - An annual document, based on the Assessment Plan that presents and explains assessment results and shows how assessment results are being used to improve the program.  Assessment reports can be included in department or college reviews, submitted for posting on this Web site (send to Kristin Harper at and/or be included in degree program level annual assessment.

Assessment Method - A process employed to gather assessment information.  This boils down to how you are going to conduct your assessment.

Direct Methods - Processes employed to assess student learning by requiring students to demonstrate knowledge and skills.  For example, student learning outcomes can be assessed through pre- and post- tests at advising sessions, observation and evaluation of student completing Degree Planner, or successful referral and use of campus service.  It is recommended that each assessment include one direct measure.

Indirect Methods - Processes employed to assess students' perceptions of their learning (questionnaires, surveys, etc.).  This can include how students’ evaluate their learning experience.  For example, students could be asked if they believe that after an advising session they are capable of successfully completing Degree Planner.

Curriculum Map - A matrix representation of a program's learning outcomes showing where they are taught and/or assessed within the program.  This is an important component that often gets overlooked until after an assessment project is completed and the established level of achievement is not met.  That’s when the question comes up about how/when a student should have learned the material or claimed the experience.  Curriculum Mapping encourages reviewing the learning to be assessed and identifying when and how it should be taught.  In a process or delivery assessment, curriculum maps help to identify where a process should occur and to who has the responsibility for the process.

Mission Statement - A concise statement outlining the purpose of a program.  The mission statement for academic advising is:  Academic advising is a collaboration between a student and an academic advisor.  Through teaching and learning experiences, the student sets goals, acquires information and services, and makes decisions consistent with interests, goals, abilities and degree requirements.

Outcomes - A specific, measureable and/or identifiable goal focusing on the end results.  At Texas A&M, academic advising has both learning outcomes and program outcomes, the latter focuses on processes and delivery of advising services.   

Student Learning Outcomes - An identified action that a student is expected to demonstrate in terms of knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes upon completion of an educational program.  Learning outcomes can be measured directly (direct measures) or indirectly (indirect measures).

Program Outcomes – Program outcomes are not directly related to student learning.  In assessment of academic advising, these include delivery of services and processes used to provide advising.  These are included in the CAS Self-Assessment Guide for TAMU Academic Advising Programs.

Achievement Target - A target, benchmark, or value that will represent success at achieving a given outcome.  The first time an achievement target is set it can end up seeming like an educated guess – and that’s okay!  The “guess” can be based on similar programs, a review of the literature, or expertise and experience.  Beyond the first time, though, the achievement target should represent a goal for improvement.

Findings - Results (data and/or information) gathered for assessment measures.

Analysis of Findings - Examination of the data gathered during the assessment cycle, including reflective consideration about what actions, if any, should be taken.  This is, perhaps, the most important step in the assessment process.  Understanding the results is the only way to determine the next step.  Use of the curriculum map is highly encouraged in this analysis. 

Action Plans - Actions taken to improve the program or assessment process based on the analysis of results.  Action plans often lead to the next assessment project.  When a change is made as a result of assessment findings, it’s important to measure the impact of the change.

Rubric - Rubrics are a way to manage analytical grading by breaking the overall evaluation of an assignment into specific criteria or expectations, and then rating each criterion on a two-to-five point scale.  Rubric scan be used in the assessment of student learning and advising program processes and delivery.  The CAS Self-Assessment Guide for TAMU Academic Advising Programs includes rubrics, which can be easily modified by the user.

Adapted from material developed by the Texas A&M University Office of Institutional Assessment