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We would like to improve our communication and service to faculty and administration! The following section shares the most common questions and concerns regarding assessment. If you have any questions, please feel free to send them to You will receive a private response to your answer. Some questions may be shared (anonymously) for the benefit of all. Thanks for your continued commitment to evidence-based decision making through assessment!

Why must we do assessment?

We assess our performance to ensure:

  • We have evidence that we are making progress toward our goals
  • We can measure student learning in an objective manner
  • We can use data to improve our performance
  • We can provide proof of evidence-based decision making to SACS and other accrediting bodies

What are SLOs, PLOs, and CLOs?

SLOs are student learning outcomes. These are the knowledge skills and dispositions we want students to learn. There are a few types of SLOs:

  • PLOs are program learning outcomes – These are the major goals that we want our graduates to achieve before they leave FSU
  • CLOs are course learning outcomes – These are the objectives that are taught in specific courses
  • Occasionally, you will hear about University core learning outcomes – These are the major goals that we want students to learn in general education during their freshman and sophomore years

Are we expected to report assessment of PLOs or CLOs?

SACS and other accrediting bodies generally require institutions to provide evidence of student proficiency in program learning outcomes (PLOs). We are not required to report assessment of course learning outcomes (CLOs), which will occur in your individual classes.

What are faculty members expected to do?

Faculty should:

  • Know the program learning outcomes (PLOs) to be assessed for your degree area. They are listed in the FSU Catalog. Program learning outcomes are the major goals that you want your graduates to master before leaving FSU.
  • Identify which upper level (300 or 400) courses are used to teach certain program learning outcomes. Some courses may teach one PLO, while others may teach two or three PLOs. Together, the courses cover all of the PLOs before a student graduates.
  • Determine which assignments will be used in a course to provide evidence of student proficiency in a program learning outcome (PLO). For instance, a program learning outcome regarding inquiry skills may be assessed with a research project or scientific experiment. You only need one assignment from a course to provide evidence. You don’t have to assess every assignment in the entire course to show evidence for a PLO.
  • Report (on a form provided on the CAS Assessment website) the number and percentage of students that demonstrated proficiency in the program learning outcome. In other words, how many students passed the test, writing assignment, project, or presentation that you chose to use as evidence of student learning? Please include the target number and percentage (how many students you hoped or expected would pass the assignment).
  • Report (on the form provided on the CAS Assessment website) your suggestions to improve student learning. This may include small changes, such as revision of syllabi or rubrics and trying new instructional strategies. It may include larger changes, such as requiring pre-requisite courses or revising a course or curriculum.

What if I don’t teach every program learning outcome (PLO) in my class? How am I supposed to assess them all?

You don’t have to assess every program learning outcome (PLO) in your class. Chances are most classes only address one or two PLOs (out of 5 or more in your degree area). This means that you may assess only the few program learning outcomes that are covered in your course. Another faculty member (or members) may assess other program learning outcomes that occur in their courses.

Why are we expected to use upper-level courses (300 or 400) to provide evidence?

There are two reasons:

  • Students in your upper level courses are more likely to perform at a level of mastery.
  • Students in your upper level courses are more likely to include your majors. This is the group whose performance we want to measure. 100 or 200-level courses are more likely to have undeclared students who may skew the results because they may not be your majors.

How do I fill out the assessment form for my degree area?

You can fill out the columns in the following manner:

  • The first two columns will identify the program learning outcomes (PLOs) and University core learning outcomes (CLOs) related to your degree area. These are already identified (unless your faculty decides to make changes). Please identify the date or semester when the PLO was added to the curriculum (when it was adopted by faculty).
  • In the third column, name and briefly explain the assignment (test, writing assignment, oral presentation, research project, etc.) that you will use as evidence that the students have mastered the program learning outcome. Attach rubrics if applicable.
  • In the fourth column, report the number and percentage of students that you projected would pass the assignment (target). Report the number and percentage of students that actually passed the assignment.
  • In the fifth column, offer suggestions that could improve student learning. You do not have to propose drastic changes every semester (unless evidence suggests they are needed). You can suggest small changes that could help students improve their performance.

What does the assessment form look like? What information goes in each column?

The form appears as follows. Use the guide to learn what information is needed in each section.

Do I have to teach and assess a program learning outcome (PLO) the same way as my colleague? What about academic freedom?

It is best to maintain consistency in the measurement used to assess student learning. However, this does not mean that we have to teach using the same methods as our colleagues. There are several options:

  • Faculty members who teach different sections of the same course may choose one assignment (writing assignment, research project, science experiment, test, etc.) that they will all use in their classes. If a rubric is needed, it should be the same for each section. All other assignments may be entirely different, based on individual instructional needs in each class.
  • Embedded questions can be used in different teachers’ tests. For instance, faculty members who teach different sections of the same course may agree on ten questions that they will include in one of their tests. The rest of the test questions may be different, based on the instruction that occurred in each class. Student performance on the ten questions can be used as evidence of their proficiency on the program learning outcomes (PLOs).

Who do I give the assessment form when I am finished?

You can turn in the form to your Assistant Dept. Chair or the person designated by your Dept. Chair to work with assessment. Remember, your form is complete when you have reported on the program learning outcomes (PLOs) that occur in your upper level (300 or 400) class. This may not include every PLO, just one or two, depending on your degree area.

Why are University core learning outcomes included on the form? Are our degree programs being held responsible for measuring outcomes for the general education curriculum in University College?

No, the core learning outcomes are included on the form to show the manner in which they support the program learning outcomes (PLOs) in our degree areas. It allows us to show administrators, SACS, and other accrediting bodies that the University core curriculum does support learning in the program areas. The skills taught in our core curriculum should prepare students for success in their major.

Where do I find the form?

Look for the section on the main page called Forms (in the body of page, not the left menu). You will find a listing of every CAS department. Find the document that bears the name of your degree area. The document’s title will begin with Matrix SLOs… (Name of program)…with Core LOs.

Who will use these forms and how?

Faculty can use the forms to determine:

  • What skills our student need to improve
  • What skills we should focus on in class
  • Whether our current approach is working (If not, we can adjust)

Administrators can view the forms and find:

  • What general number and percentage of students in our programs are proficient in certain skills
  • Documentation that candidates for graduation have demonstrated proficiency
  • Documentation that our programs make evidence-based decisions to improve instructional practice

How often do we have to assess our program learning outcomes?

We will complete an assessment form for each degree area near the end of every semester.

What if my course only occurs once a year (only in the fall or only in spring)? What do we do about assessing the program learning outcomes from that class?

You can use staggered assessments in which a program learning outcome (PLO) is measured every other semester (once a year). We will try to measure as many PLOs as possible each year.

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