Understanding Assessment at CMU

Student learning outcomes assessment at CMU is defined as the ongoing monitoring of the extent to which students are developing the knowledge, skills, beliefs, and attitudes that are appropriate for graduates of their respective academic programs. Assessment of student learning assists programs in defining course goals and outcomes. Assessment data provides information for faculty development of strong programs, effective curriculum, and innovative teaching. In addition, student learning outcomes assessment assists programs, departments, councils, colleges, and the university in accreditation by providing evidence of quality teaching and learning. --Policy on Student Learning Outcomes at CMU 

Why Care About Assessment of Student Learning? 

There are many reasons that assessment of student learning is important. Assessment helps us: 

  • Discover what students ARE actually learning, versus what we THINK they are learning. 
  • Identify student-learning areas that are missing, weak, duplicated, and/or conflicting. 
  • Make changes in our curriculum and courses to fill in curriculum gaps and omissions, strengthen weak areas and give coherent messages. 
  • Become better teachers by aligning what we do to more effectively meet the needs of the learners. 
  • Provide empirical information drawn from student learning outcomes data for future program planning. 
  • Have empirical data about student learning outcomes to show decision-makers that what we do works. 

Institution-Level Assessment 

CMU assesses student learning at the institution level through a variety of means. These include the National Study of Student Engagement (NSSE), Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), the CMU First Destination Study, and other methods of inquiry.  

Program-Level Assessment  

Program-level assessment is the ongoing monitoring of the extent to which students are developing the knowledge, skills, beliefs and attitudes that are appropriate for graduates of the respective academic programs. The process involves the determination of an educational program's strengths and weaknesses through a well-conceived and implemented plan of data collection and the review and use of the results to foster a culture of continuous improvement. Read more about Program-Level Assessment.

Course-Level Assessment 

Each CMU course has clearly articulated course-level student learning outcomes established in the Master Course Syllabus (MCS). Faculty and instructional staff guide student learning through each course, which often advance the academic program goals. Frequent course-level assessments provide regular feedback to faculty about student progress and the effectiveness of teaching methods, along with providing students a means of appraising their own learning. Read more about Course-Level Assessment.

Senate-Appointed Assessment Committees  

A number of different University committees have responsibility for providing assistance and guidance to faculty and staff for student learning outcomes assessment at CMU. The Assessment Council, established by the Academic Senate in 1992, is the primary committee that develops and monitors program-level assessment. Its members, in cooperation with faculty and staff closest to the delivery of programs, ensure that conversations about student learning and program improvement remain central to departments and units. 


The Professional Education Assessment Committee and the General Education Committee also have key roles in student learning outcomes assessment.