Programmatic Assessment

Programmatic Assessment

Programmatic review involves a series of activities that allow a department or school to determine how well students are successfully achieving program goals. Following a program review, departments can choose to make any necessary adjustments to their curricula and associated courses in order to enhance student learning. In many cases, programmatic review focuses on specific majors and/or minors within a department, although it can certainly incorporate core curriculum and general elective courses as well.

What follows is a general outline of the key steps in the programmatic review process. CITL instructional consultants are available to facilitate workshops and to guide departments through this process. This process can be modified and adapted to address the situational factors specific to a particular program.

Identifying Programmatic Goals

The first step in a programmatic review is identifying programmatic goals. This process typically starts with a faculty working group that drafts 4-8 program-wide goals, and then brings that draft to the larger faculty body for modification and vetting. These goals articulate what the faculty members value in their program and what they want graduates of the program to be able to think and do when they leave IU. These goals answer the question: How will students be different when they graduate from this program?

Identifying Learning Outcomes

The next step in the process is creating student learning outcomes for each program goal. This step gets deeper into observable and measurable student behaviors, articulating what evidence students will provide to show they have achieved the program goals. This might include demonstrations of specific cognitive or performance skills associated with each of the goals. For example, if a programmatic goal addresses ethical behavior, the corresponding student learning outcomes will be able to provide evidence that students have mastered application of that concept.

We have more information available on writing effective learning outcomes.

Curriculum Mapping

Once programmatic goals and corresponding learning outcomes are identified, the next step is to identify where the outcomes are assessed within the individual courses. Typically, a grid is produced that lists outcomes along the side and courses along the top, allowing for a visual representation of the alignment of outcomes and courses. In some cases, this process will reveal gaps between espoused goals and the reality of current coursework. To extend the above example, faculty members may identify a strong value on ethical thinking in the field, but realize no current course requires students to provide evidence that those concepts have been learned. The curriculum mapping process requires significant discussion about program goals, learning outcomes and the program curriculum, along with a willingness and commitment on the part of all faculty members to align courses with the groups’ decisions.

Final Report

After the curriculum mapping activity is complete, CITL consultants help the working group analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum plan, and the program head writes a final report that outlines progress and identifies a path forward, including a specific action plan for implementing and studying any curricular changes being made. This stage should not be seen as completing the programmatic review process, but as a launching point for implementation and ongoing review.

For more information about programmatic review, or to inquire about having the CITL facilitate this process within your department, contact us.