In order to understand what we mean when we discuss assessment, assessment planning, or other related topics, it is imperative that we share definitions for commonly referred to words, concepts, and ideas.

Assessment Plan: a plan devised by an institution that outlines precisely what PLO is being assessed by whom, when, and how (YR).

Assessment Steps (for program assessment): Faculty develop learning objectives, check for alignment between the curriculum and the objectives, develop and implement an assessment plan, use results to improve the program, and routinely examine the assessment process and correct it, as need (Allen, 2004, p. 165)

Assessment: The collection and use of evidence to improve a product or process (Allen, 2004, p. 165)

Closing the Loop: faculty discuss assessment results, reach conclusions about their meaning, determine implications for change, and implement them (Allen, 2004, p. 166)

Coefficient alpha: An internal consistency reliability estimate based on correlations among all items on a test (Allen, 2004, p. 166)

Core Competencies: Knowledge, values, and skills that we expect our students to have/obtain through their studies at Divine Word College. While these are enforced, introduced, and promoted in our Core Curriculum, these five core competencies are also fostered and reinforced in upper level courses to ensure our students gain adequate exposure to them and opportunities to obtain these (YR).

Curriculum Alignment: Curriculum and learning objectives are aligned or matched to ensure that students are provided appropriate learning opportunities in order to achieve the identified learning objectives or outcomes. (

Curriculum Mapping: the process indexing or diagraming a curriculum to identify and address academic gaps, redundancies, and misalignments for purposes of improving the overall coherence of a course of study and, by extension, its effectiveness (a curriculum, in the sense that the term is typically used by educators, encompasses everything that teachers teach to students in a school or course, including the instructional materials and techniques they use). (

Direct Measure: Students demonstrate that they have achieved a learning objective (Allen, 2004, p.167).

Competence interview: Test which is orally administered (Allen, 2004, p. 167).

Portfolios: Collections of multiple student work samples usually compiled over time and rated using rubrics. The design of a portfolio is dependent upon how the scoring results are going to be used.
Assessment Terms Glossary, Northern Illinois University,

Embedded Assignments: Assessment activities occur in courses. Students generally are graded on this work, and some or all of it also is used to assess program learning objectives (Allen, 2004, p. 168)

Embedded Assessment: assessment activities occur in courses. Students generally are graded on this work, and some or all of it also is used to assess program learning objectives (Allen, 2004, p. 168).

Empirical data: quantitative or qualitative data based on and obtained via varying research methods or methodologies. (YR)

Formative Assessment: Assessment designed to give feedback to improve what is being assessed (Allen, 2004, p. 168)

Institutional Assessment: an on-going process designed to monitor and determine the extent to which curricular, co-curricular and institutional areas and processes support the achievement of student learning outcomes as defined by the mission of the college. (

Learning Outcomes (sometimes titled “objectives”) – Statements that describe specific behavior a student is expected to demonstrate to assure the stated goal has been achieved; knowledge, skills and values students should demonstrate upon completion of a course, program or curriculum (

Mission: A holistic vision of the values and philosophy of a program, department, or institution. (Allen, 2004, p.169)
Outcomes: target measures that demonstrate achievement of mission and goals (

Program Assessment: An ongoing process designed to monitor and improve student learning. Faculty development explicit statements of what students should learn, verify y that the program is designed to foster this learning, collect empirical data that indicate student attainment, and use the data to improve student learning (Allen, 2004, p. 171)

Program Learning Outcomes: [Measurable]  (sometimes referred to as PLO; “program learning outcomes) knowledge, skills, abilities, or attitudes that students have at the completion of a degree or certificate. Faculty within a discipline meet to discuss the expected learning outcomes for students who complete a particular series of courses, such as those required for a certificate or a degree. PSLOs should be the BIG things you want students to get out of a degree or certificate. PSLOs should be developed throughout the program and in multiple courses (

Reliability: The degree of measurement precision and stability for a test or assessment procedure (Allen, 2004, 171)
Rubric: An explicit scheme for classifying products or behaviors into categories that are steps along a continuum (Allen, 2004, p. 171)

Student Learning Outcomes (sometimes referred to as SLO; “student learning objectives") Statements of what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time they complete the major or degree. They may be stated in terms of expected knowledge, skills or attitudes. These outcomes must be consistent with the mission of the department, college, and university. (

Summative: Assessment is designed to provide an evaluative summary (Allen, 2004, p. 172)

Validity: How well a procedure assesses what it is supposed to be assessed (Allen, 2004, p.173)


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