Outcomes Assessment provides a platform for managing assessment of an institution's curriculum and programs. Assessment is a process whereby an institution states what future outcomes it expects, collects data to report on the success or failure of the outcomes, and reflects on ways to achieve more successful results in the future. Expected outcomes take a variety of forms and are used in a variety of ways from a formal academic accreditation process, to budget projection, or evidence for creating a new degree program. Expected outcomes are benchmarked or measured against different goals in different contexts.
Expected outcomes are given different names at different institutions based on historical conventions and are measured in different ways. Blackboard Learn provides a set of configurable templates for setting up expected outcomes throughout an institution. These expected outcomes will be measured by comparing a set of goals created by the institution against the data collected by the institution. Goals are linked to one another to provide stratified institutional analysis, comparing how a course goal is related to a departmental goal, and how those goals are related to a goal for measuring program efficacy, for example.
Goals can be measured directly or indirectly. Examples of indirect measures might include “raise student retention rates to 85 percent for the university in two years,” or “reduce remedial course enrollment by 20 percent for the College of Arts and Sciences next year.” Examples of direct measures might include “Students graduating with a BA in Journalism will demonstrate understanding of critical analysis by writing articles about the media and current events,” or “Students enrolled in the College of Education will produce a portfolio that demonstrates three different types of lesson planning for elementary school children.”
Goals can be created within a Unit, Program, Course, and Educational Experience place. Goals can be shared across places if they are owned by a parent place. For example, if the College of Arts and Science owns the goal of student retention, that goal can be shared with any child place such as the department of English, the Department of Undergraduate Studies, and the School of Music. Goals can also be imported from the Goals tool, to learn more see, Importing Goals Using XML Files.
Units, Programs, Courses, and Educational Experiences can all have individual goals and share goals with parent places. Faculty can set the goals for the courses they teach, departments can set the goals for the faculty and students enrolled in those courses, and colleges can set the goals for the programs that stem from their departments.
Given the hierarchical structure of an institution, goals set at a given level of the place hierarchy may play a part in the successful attainment of another level’s goals. Institutions are able to report on goals as they relate to other goals, perhaps analyzing how all departments are helping to attain the university’s goals, or how a course is linked to its department goals. These nested and interrelated goals open a new level of sophisticated reporting that can assess how different facets of an institution are meeting their goals in relation to the institution as a whole.
Outcomes Assessment Goals can have two sources: external and internal.
External goals are those that are set by an organization outside the institution by which the institution is measured against. External goals(also referred to as standards) can come from the following sources:
- Federal government
- Regional accreditation bodies such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) or the New England Association of Colleges and Schools (NEASC)
- State licensing boards
- Government agencies
- Professional organizations