Assessment Heroes Bulletin

October 28, 2022

Highlighting excellence in student learning outcomes assessment for academic programs and core courses




Somewhere in between defining your student learning outcomes and collecting data about student performance on those outcomes using selected measurement tools is an essential and sometimes overlooked stage in the assessment process – Learning Activities and Engagement!

Learning activities and engagement are made up of the instruction and curriculum that faculty design, plan, and do with students to equip them with the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to successfully meet the student learning outcomes. These learning experiences encompass things that happen both in and outside of class and during interactions with class materials, peers, and professors.

Learning activities and engagement are documented as part of the annual assessment process to show that curriculum is thoughtfully designed for each student learning outcome and that students are given adequate opportunities to develop necessary knowledge and practice applicable skills leading up to assessment points.

The BA/BS Biology program offers an excellent example of how these Learning Activities and Engagement are thoughtfully constructed for each program student learning outcome. The program has a well-developed curriculum map that helps to pinpoint where each program SLO is covered in both required and elective courses throughout the program and shows how course content builds in complexity from the introductory level to advanced content. As students progress through the curriculum, the kinds of learning experiences also vary to provide a broad range of engagement aligned to the program SLO and level of challenge identified for the specific course.

After completing introductory-level laboratory courses, students learn foundational concepts associated with each SLO through lectures and engagement with primary and secondary sources in a series of intermediate courses. As they progress to upper-level courses, they engage in more “hands-on, minds-on” learning through field trips, undergraduate research opportunities, case studies, and advanced laboratory courses. While the learning activities and engagement are tailored to the content of each course, there are parallels across the curriculum following the design of the curriculum map.

As faculty reflect on assessment data to identify strengths and weaknesses in student learning each year, they can propose changes to curriculum and instruction based on what was described in the Learning Activities and Engagement narrative to support student learning in specific courses aligned to areas showing a need for improvement.


For more information and resources relevant to this Assessment Heroes Bulletin, see the following Student Learning Assessment Resources libguide pages:

Curriculum Alignment/Curriculum Mapping

Learning Activities and Engagement

Institutional Assessment and Accreditation (IAA) works collaboratively with faculty, staff, and administration to ensure the quality of the programs and educational experiences offered by the university, addressing the unique assessment needs of courses, departments, colleges, or units through individual and group consultations, professional development workshops, recommendations for technology implementation, and best practice reference materials.

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