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Glossary of Terms

Appointing officer - individual responsible for personnel and program decisions.

Assessment - the process of seeking, evaluating, reflecting upon data, and making changes in order to foster continuous improvement of student academic learning and achievement.

Assessment Plan - formal developmental process for measuring student learning outcomes including data collection and analysis procedures.

Assessment Plan (Student Learning Outcomes) - goals, objectives, measures; timeline, responsible party; component of your strategic plan.  This constitutes the student learning goals section of your Strategic Plan

Assessment report - the formal report on student learning outcomes submitted to the University Assessment Committee (UAC): data collected as described in assessment plan

Benchmarks - specific performance level used for comparison; these may be internal (e.g. using past results as a baseline) or external (e.g., using results from another institution or from an accrediting body)

Competencies and proficiencies - terms used to describe learning outcomes or objectives

Emphasis - area of study within a program with at least one unique objective

Goals - what you aim to achieve: an achievable outcome; goals are not measurable 

Learning outcomes or learning goals - goals that describe how students will be different because of a learning experience; learning outcomes are the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and habits of mind that students take with them from a learning experience

Measure - an assessment instrument used to assess a student action or outcome of the stated objective

  • Direct measure - an assessment based on an evaluation of an observable performance (e.g., written exams, term papers, presentations, recitals, field evaluations, etc.)
  • Indirect measure - an assessment based on self-report or perceptions (e.g., alumni surveys, focus group interviews, employer satisfaction surveys, etc.)

Objectives - a measurable action or outcome that will be a step in accomplishing a goal; detailed aspects of goals; the tasks to be accomplished to achieve the goal; the means to the end; the process leading to the outcome

Outcomes - goals that refer to a destination rather than the path taken to get there; the end rather than the means; the outcome rather than the process

Performance indicators - quantitative measures of overall student performance 

Reliability - the consistency of an instrument, either between raters (inter-rater reliability) or across multiple evaluations by the same rater (intra-rater reliability)

Self Study - the formal reporting focusing on unit function and performance: a snapshot of where your program is right now

Strategic Plan - future plan: vision, mission, values, goals, objectives, measures, timeline, responsible party

Target - the desired or aspirational level of performance or achievement

Threshold - the performance or achievement level that must be exceeded; ideally it is based on benchmarks

Unit - smallest academic organization recognized by university budgeting

Validity - the extent to which an instrument measures what it is intended to measure; see the UAC statement on course grades