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Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning About Assessment

Glossary of Assessment Terms


Aggregate Data: Data from multiple sources and/or on multiple individuals that have been compiled and summarized. 

Assessment Cycle:  The process of planning, collecting, and analyzing assessment measures and data for the purpose of sustaining and improving teaching and learning. Typically the assessment cycle refers to the timing of the processes within an academic year, but timing may vary from program to program.

Assessment Plan: A process and timeline for designing, collecting, and analyzing assessment data, and regularly involving faculty in interpreting and using results.

Assessment Results: Analyzed or summarized assessment data (data may be quantitative or qualitative) or other impacts of assessment activities; shared formally or informally.

Complementary Measures: Multiple direct and/or indirect measures, whose results are analyzed, aligned, and shared on a timely basis for use by faculty and chairs/directors. Complementary measures are especially important for comprehensive or high stakes decisions intended to support student learning.

Curriculum Map: A matrix aligning student learning outcomes with the courses in a program of study.

Direct Measure: A measure of students’ performances or work products that demonstrate skills and knowledge.

Disaggregate Data: Data separated into parts and sorted by meaningful categories, such as campus or student demographic information.

Indirect Measure: Information associated with learning, motivation, perceived success, or satisfaction; gathered, for example, through a survey or focus group.

Key Assessment Elements: At WSU, the principle elements of program assessment forming a framework for useful, sustainable assessment. Specifically, the student learning outcomes for the degree or major, assessment plan, curriculum map, direct measures, indirect measures, and use of assessment. All six of these are required for all WSU undergraduate programs.

Program-level Assessment: Measures and assessment tools that faculty use to collaboratively develop, maintain and improve an effective curriculum that promotes student learning through a program of study.

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs): Core skills and knowledge students should develop through a program of study.

SLO-aligned Assessment: Assessment measures aligned with achievement of specific learning outcomes. SLO-aligned assessment may be direct measures (such as assessment of skills demonstrated in a senior project) or indirect measures (such as input from a senior focus group on their experience related to a specific SLO).

Use of Assessment: Assessment results or activities a) inform regular reflection and discussion of teaching and learning and b) contribute to decision-making to ensure effective teaching and learning. Decisions can include the choice to continue current effective practices or build on strengths. Use of assessment may happen at any point in the process of collecting, analyzing, or discussing assessment.