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Outcomes Evaluation

Evaluation in educational institutions is a process of determining merit, worth, and significance of student and faculty achievements, courses, programs, research projects, instructional methodology, and much more. Evaluation can take many forms, from examples of individual achievement such as student projects and faculty publications to anonymous survey and course evaluation responses. No matter the form, the goal of evaluation is to provide data based on direct and indirect measures upon which judgments can be made against the stated criteria. These judgments in turn can be used to provide the basis for strategic planning, programmatic change, funding, and accreditation designations.

One example of the direct measurement of individual achievement is evaluating a student’s capstone project for a master’s degree in teaching. A faculty committee reviews submitted student work to conduct the evaluation. The student work, in the form of a portfolio containing a variety of examples of assignments, is scored using a standard rubric. The rubric is based on a set of criteria created by the institution modeled on governmental goals as well as internal institutional goals. The method used for this evaluation of individual work ensures a fair assessment based on that stated criteria for that student and all the other students in that program.

The data from this individual evaluation, when added to other student portfolios that are scored using the same criteria, can then be used in the aggregate to measure overall student achievement in a larger evaluation process of the master degree program itself. The evaluation of the master’s degree program also uses Course Evaluations and a Survey sent to local school systems inquiring about the significance of employing teachers with graduate degrees. Surveys and Course Evaluations measure indirect evidence of program outcomes. Taken together, both direct measures and indirect measures provide data that curriculum review committees and institutional administrators can use in support of changing and funding the program.

Blackboard Learn offers instruments for measuring direct and indirect evaluation. Portfolio Templates and Artifact Templates provide a means for students, instructors, and other constituents to give and receive direct feedback on submissions of digital media. These instruments address growing requests for accountability and transparency by the government, students, their families, and the outside community.

Enterprise Surveys provide a more traditional means for evaluating programs, courses, and instructors, relying on self-reported data in the form of course evaluations and other surveys. This method uses implied success. For example, if surveyed students respond that they are employed in their fields of study within twelve months of graduating, they must have mastered the objectives of their programs. Providing a method to standardize the processes of surveying and course evaluating allows responses to be aggregated, and can save time, save money, and increases response rates.