Choosing a Tool
Assessment tools should be selected based on their applicability to the learning outcomes
being assessed. In some cases, more than one tool may be used to assess a course or program.
Measures may be direct or indirect. In direct measures, student demonstrate an expected learning
outcomes (e.g. through a test, project, or assessment). In indirect measures, student or others
report their perceptions of how well a given learning outcome has been achieved (e.g. through a student
survey). Ideally, both types of measures will be used. For examples of tools, see the information
on Sample Assessment Methods further down on this page.
Sample Assessment Methods
The following are just some of the potential assessment methods that might be used in assessing student
academic achievement in courses and/or programs. It is always recommended that you choose the assessment
method(s) that seem most appropriate for the learning outcomes you wish to assess.
A project or activity in which students demonstrate achievement of comprehensive learning outcomes
that is usually completed at the end of a course or program. In a program, there may be a capstone
course that includes the pertinent learning outcomes for the program.
A common exam developed collaboratively by a department used in all sections being assessed; may be part of
a graded final that is evaluated separately using a scoring rubric.
External certification/licensure exam
Exams developed by regional or national accrediting or licensing organizations to evaluate students on
specific skills usually related to an occupational area, such as nursing or automotive technology.
Externally evaluated job performance
Evaluation of student competence, knowledge and skills by an employer in and internship, coop, or job placement.
Useful for program assessment in occupational areas.
Externally evaluated performance or exhibit
Useful in the visual and performing arts, a performance or exhibit that is evaluated or judged by experts in
the field other than the instructor for the assessed course/program. The external evaluator may be an instructor
at WCC who teaches a different course/section.
A compilation of student work, including perhaps projects, artwork or writing samples, demonstrating achievement
of multiple learning outcomes. May be in paper or electronic form, and may be used for course or program assessment.
Portfolios are generally externally evaluated.
Pre- and post-test
A test or other assessment activity that is administered to students both at the beginning of a course or program
and at the end, with the intention of demonstrating improved knowledge or skill upon completion.
An assessment activity in which something such as a newspaper article, poem, or piece of art is presented to the
student in order to prompt a specific response, usually written. Useful particularly in the arts and humanities.
A test assessing academic achievement or of knowledge in a specific academic or vocational domain. Such tests are
frequently objective (although some may be written tests with open-ended questions) and have scores referencing the
scores of a norm group, providing comparative data. Standardized tests are generally commercial products and are
useful in many areas. A current example at WCC is the use of CAAP tests to assess skills in the general education
areas of math, writing, and natural science.
Surveys may be used to evaluate perceptions of student achievement. Surveys of graduates, employers, or advisory
committee members may help determine if program outcomes relating to employment and skill attainment have been met.
Students may also be surveyed regarding self-perception of their success or, if administered as a pre-and post-test,
of the improvement following completion of a course or program. Because surveys are indirect measures of student
academic achievement, they are ideally used in combination with more direct measures.
In courses or programs that have a high degree of transferability to other institutions, it may be useful to examine
student success in subsequent courses at the receiving institutions. WCC has a large database of transfer follow-up
information from Eastern Michigan University for assessment purposes.