DISCLAIMER: This data in this section is fictitious and does not, in any way, represent any of the programs at Gallaudet University. This information is intended only as examples.

Selecting Appropriate Assessment Tools and Methods

Definition Characteristics
Assessment Tool: the instrument (form, test, rubric, etc.) that is used to collect data for each outcome. The actual product that is handed out to students for the purpose of assessing whether they have achieved a particular learning outcome(s).
Assessment Method: description of how and when the assessment tool will be used to assess the outcome.
Appropriate assessment tools have the following characteristics:

  • Will they measure achievement of your outcomes

Shows if targets – the desired level of performance (level of satisfaction, productivity, efficiency, student performance) for each outcome – were achieved

  • Cost-Effective in time and money
  • Useful = will produce results that provide information that can be used in making decisions to improve student learning
  • Reasonably-accurate and truthful – NOT Perfect = yields dependable, consistent responses over time
  • Evidence of being on-going, not once and done


Each SLO should be assessed using at least one direct method (see chart below for more information). Try to use more than one measure to demonstrate that students have achieved the expected learning outcomes, as that will give you a more balanced picture of your unit/program. Also, multiple sources of evidence that support the same conclusions add validity to any decisions you make about improvements to your program/unit.

NOTE: There are times when one assessment tool could measure more than one outcome (e.g., a survey [indirect] with questions related to several outcomes or a capstone experience [direct] assessing critical thinking and presentation skills).

Direct Measures vs. Indirect Measures

Direct Assessment Observation of student* performance or examination of products in which they demonstrate mastery of specific subject / skills; demonstrate a certain quality in work [e.g., creativity]; demonstrate they hold a particular value
Indirect Assessment Inferring student* abilities, knowledge, and values based on an analysis of reported perceptions about student mastery of outcomes. The perceptions may be self-reports by students, or they may be made by others, such as alumni, fieldwork supervisors, employers, or faculty

*= can mean either individual students or representative samples of students

Example(s): Chart of Strategies for Assessment of Student Learning

NOTE: The chart below is not all inclusive but is meant to provide you with some available measurement tools. You are not limited to using only these assessment tools.

Examples of Direct and Indirect Measures

Direct Measures Indirect Measures

  • Course/Homework assignments evaluated using a rubric
  • Reflective papers
  • Observations of field work, internship, performance, service learning, or clinical experience, with notes recorded systematically
  • Summaries/analyses of electronic discussion threads
  • Evaluation of capstone experiences, senior theses, exhibitions, portfolios, performances, research projects, presentations, dissertations, or oral defenses
  • Scores and pass rates on appropriate licensure/certification exams (e.g., Praxis, NLN) or other published tests
  • Employer and internship supervisor ratings of student skills
  • Score gains between entry and exit on published or local tests or writing sample

  • Course/Assignment grades
  • Number of student hours spent at intellectual or cultural activities related to course
  • Focus Group/Exit Interviews with students, faculty/staff
  • Registration or course enrollment information
  • Placement rates of graduates into appropriate career positions and starting salaries
  • Alumni, employer, and student surveys (including satisfaction surveys)
  • Quality/reputation of graduate and four-year programs into which alumni are accepted
  • Length of time to degree

  • Benchmarking
  • Discussions
  • Doc. Analysis
  • Evaluations
  • Government Standards
  • Professional Standards

  • Activity Volume
  • Benchmarking
  • Efficiency
  • Focus Groups
  • Satisfaction
  • Service Quality

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