Measures Grab Bag

Quizzes and Tests

Measurement instrument


Metric for meeting objective


Standardized test sub-score

ACT writing sub-score as a measure of written communication

Percentage of writing scores exceeding a given threshold

Important to verify alignment with the outcome being assessed

Certification test

Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC)

Percentage of graduates passing the subject area test

Important to document alignment of certification test items and the outcome begin assessed

Writing sample

Expository writing sample evaluated with a rubric

Percentage of students earning a proficient rating

Rubric should spell out objective criteria that distinguish between performance levels.

Pre/post test

Identical critical-thinking prompt used on the final exams in a sophomore-level course and a senior-level course. 

Mean difference in performance scores between the two courses, tracked over time.

Does not need to impact students' grades. Pre/post can also be used within a single course. 

Quiz or exam

Gateway quiz on calculating derivatives

Percentage passing on 1st, 2nd, 3rd attempt, etc.

Might be used to determine whether a new teaching technique is helping more students pass on their first attempt.

Projects and Clinicals

Measurement Instrument


Metric for meeting objective


Capstone project evaluation

Statistical consulting project carried out for a client.

Percentage of client evaluations of the delivered product rated satisfied or very satisfied.

Reporting should focus on relevant aspects of the task. This metric might not suffice for an outcome focused on analyzing complex data sets, for example.

Clinical case studies, analytic writing tasks, oral defense evaluation, etc.

Nursing students analyze (or write) a case study of an anonymous patient from a clinical experience. 

Percentage of students whose analysis was evaluated at or above proficient on a rubric developed for the task.

If the rubric contains multiple evaluation criteria, the metric should define which or how many of the criteria must be met by a student.

Group project evaluation

Group research project on a significant historical figure.

Percentage of projects earning a rubric-score of at least 80%.

Group projects can overestimate the level of achievement on knowledge- or skills-outcomes because individual contributions are not easily evaluated.

Field evaluation, clinical evaluation, employer skills-assessment, etc.

Student teaching performance evaluation by the cooperating teacher

Percentage of candidates who receive a strong or very strong overall evaluation on the rubric.

Tracking sub-scores or triangulating with university supervisor evaluations might add value to the assessment.

Indirect Measures

Unlike direct measures of student learning in which a direct observation of a performance provides evidence for meeting a learning objective, indirect measures rely on secondary evidence. In most cases, indirect measures should be used as a supplement for other direct measures. 

Examples of indirect measures include: 

  • Course grades and cumulative GPA
  • Grades assigned to student work might be considered indirect if:
    • the grade is an aggregate of multiple factors or learning outcomes
    • the assignment is graded without a clear scoring rubric
    • grade is a common grade awarded to all members of a group
  • Comparison of admission and graduation rates
  • Percentage of students that pursue next-level education
  • Reputation of graduate programs where alumni are accepted
  • Employment rates of alumni in appropriate career positions
  • Rate of student involvement in:
    • faculty research projects
    • collaborative publications or presentations
    • service learning or internships
  • Surveys, questionnaires, or interviews that focus on:
    • student perceptions of their own learning
    • alumni perceptions of career-readiness or job satisfaction
    • faculty and staff members perceptions of program effectiveness
  • Enrollment counts and participation rates
  • Numbers of honors, awards, scholarships earned by students or alumni

Examples inspired by Maki, P.L. (2004). Assessing for learning: building a sustainable commitment across the institution. Sterling, VA: AAHE; and Suskie, L. (2004). Assessing student learning: A common sense guide. San Francisco, CA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc.

Page last modified November 23, 2017