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Assessment of Student Learning

Across Northwestern, people are leading important and significant assessment efforts in areas such as program review, student affairs, enrollment management, budget and financial planning, and career services. In addition, the Office of the Provost is leading a University-wide initiative to facilitate assessment of student learning outcomes. The University Assessment/Accreditation Council has been instrumental in developing Northwestern’s institutional assessment strategy and in advising on matters related to student learning outcomes assessment.

Among our main goals is to make available a broad set of tools, best practices, and methodologies related to student learning assessment for faculty and staff to readily utilize. The recently launched Assessment of Student Learning website by the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching showcases assessment efforts across Northwestern and provides Northwestern faculty and staff with useful resources and tools for their own assessments of student learning. The site also outlines the purposes and strategy that guide Northwestern's assessment efforts, presents the assessment process, and provides links to other campus resources.

Strategic Framework for Assessment

The assessment of learning at Northwestern is (and will continue to be) a school- and division-based effort strongly supported across the University by the senior administration. The Office of the Provost in collaboration with the Assessment/Accreditation Council has facilitated the development of an institutional assessment strategy that respects the diverse methods and approaches to assessment that can be effectively utilized in a complex university. In 2015–16, the Student Learning Assessment Subcommittee of the Assessment/Accreditation Council developed a strategic framework for assessment (NetID login required) within Northwestern’s decentralized model to articulate an institutional strategy for student learning assessment. The framework respects that assessment of student learning is being performed widely across the University, across academic areas as well as units supporting co-curricular programming, and that schools and units are at different stages of assessment. The framework articulates a long-term vision for broadening student learning assessment over the next decade, identifies short-term strategic priorities, and establishes a three-year timeline with action steps that are realistic yet aspirational.

Learning, Teaching and Assessment Forum

This annual University-wide forum is hosted by the Office of the Provost, in collaboration with the University Assessment/Accreditation Council and the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching. This University-wide event is designed to:

  • Provide faculty, doctoral students, postdocs, administrators and staff the opportunity to showcase their assessment initiatives at the class, department/program, school, and/or university levels;
  • Share and highlight teaching, learning and assessment innovations, strategies, practices, and outcomes;
  • Demonstrate the University’s assessment framework in practice; and
  • Promote dialogue about assessment, its purpose, and its value for improving learning and teaching.

There are many exciting and innovative student learning outcomes assessment initiatives across Northwestern, and this Forum provides an opportunity to share more broadly. More information about the Assessment Forum, including proposal submissions and prior year presentations, is available on the forum website.