Assessment Overview

Assessment of student learning is critical to continuous improvement of academic quality. To develop an intentional program of assessment, in 2011 Michigan Tech established eight University Student Learning Goals (USLGs) that all Michigan Tech undergraduates should achieve by the time they graduate:

  1. Disciplinary knowledge
  2. Knowledge of the physical and natural world
  3. Global literacy and knowledge of human culture
  4. Critical and creative thinking
  5. Communication
  6. Information literacy
  7. Technology
  8. Values and civic engagement

These goals are achieved by student engagement in learning opportunities across the university -- in the general education program, the degree programs, and student affairs programs. They were designed to align with the university’s strategic plan, professional accreditation outcomes (ABET, AACSB, SAF), and American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes. Michigan Tech is a member of the AAC&U LEAP campus action network.

To measure students' success in achieving these goals, we emphasize direct, embedded assessment of student work in Michigan Tech courses. We also use discipline-specific examinations and surveys such as the National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE). Assessment results enable us to identify opportunities to improve courses and curricula, teaching practices, and student life activities, as well as make informed decisions about degree programs.

Goals are assessed using Michigan Tech rubrics that are adapted from LEAP VALUE rubrics. It is important that these rubrics are used for assessment of the goals in all programs to develop a consistent measure of student progress from matriculation to degree completion. The rubric identifies student learning at four levels: 1-beginning, 2-developing, 3-proficient and 4-exemplary.For more information about assessing student learning using the VALUE rubrics, see these FAQs.

The Michigan Tech Assessment Council is charged with oversight and integration of assessment activities across campus. Since many Michigan Tech degree programs are professionally accredited, the Council also works to balance the requirements of professional accreditation with university student learning goals.

University Student Learning Goal Committees

To help faculty understand the goals and integrate learning opportunities in their programs and courses, Goal Committees have been appointed by the Provost with Senate representation. Each committee develops Michigan Tech rubrics for assessment based on LEAP VALUE rubrics, identifies pathways for degree programs to achieve the goals, provides workshops, creates a Canvas course with information and resources, and has oversight for assessment of their designated goal.

General Education Assessment

The General Education Program lays the foundation for learning. Students are introduced to the University Student Learning Goals in the general education core courses required for all students in their first two years at Michigan Tech. All general education courses are expected to meet specified goals. The General Education Program is designed to help students achieve the following USLGs at the developing or proficiency levels:

  • 2. Knowledge of the physical and natural world
  • 3. Global literacy and knowledge of human culture
  • 4. Critical and creative thinking
  • 5. Communication
  • 6. Information literacy
  • 8. Values and civic engagement

Student work produced in general education is assessed using the Michigan Tech rubrics. For additional information, see General Education. NOTE: Goal 1 Disciplinary Knowledge and Goal 8 Technology will be achieved in the degree programs. 

Degree Program Assessment

All degree programs have established clear and measurable learning goals that identify what students should know or be able to do by the time they graduate from the program. These program learning goals are disciplinary goals (USLG 1) to be achieved through the degree program’s curriculum. Degree programs may also identify other University Student Learning Goals as program goals. Degree programs assess at least two learning goals annually – one program goal and one USLG.

Although a particular USLG may not be a stated program learning goal, all degree programs are expected to provide opportunities to reinforce and practice the USLG competencies introduced by the General Education Program, as well as help students learn how these competencies are achieved in the disciplinary context. The Annual Degree Program Assessment Report asks degree programs to identify where in their programs this occurs and could be assessed.

For example, students will learn fundamental competencies of Goal 5 Communication in at least two General Education courses. Faculty in degree programs will need to consider how students will develop and apply these competencies in their degree programs and learn the conventions of their discipline for written and oral communication. Faculty can map their curriculum to identify courses that require students to produce written work (such as lab reports or research projects) or oral communication (such as presentations) and assure that students receive clear expectations for communication in the discipline and feedback on their work. These artifacts of student work will be used for assessment.

This table shows how the general education program and degree programs work together to help students achieve the USLGs at appropriate levels in order to graduate with proficiency in all goals.  

University Student
Learning Goals
Developing
Level 2
Proficient
Level 3
Exemplary
Level 4
1. Disciplinary Knowledge  Achieved
in all Majors
2. Knowledge of Physical & Natural WorldGED ED STEMGED ED STEMAchieved
in designated majors
3. Human Culture & Global Literacy

GEN ED Core

  • UN1025
  • SBS*2000
GEN EDAchieved
in designated majors 
4. Critical/Creative Thinking

GEN ED Core

  • HUFA*2000
  • STEM
GEN EDAchieved
in designated majors
5. Communication

GEN ED Core

  • UN1015
GEN EDAchieved
in designated majors
6. Information Literacy

GEN ED

  • UN1015
  • UN1025
Achieved in all majorsAchieved
in designated majors 
7. Technology Achieved in all majorsAchieved
in designated majors 
8. Values & Civic Engagement

GEN ED

  • SBS*2000
  • HUFA*2000

GEN ED

Distribution

Achieved
in designated majors 

*HUFA — Humanities and Fine Arts, SBS — Social and Behavioral Sciences
**BOLD — ALL STUDENTS HELD TO THIS STANDARD

Course Learning Goals

The Syllabus Requirement for All Courses at Michigan Tech states that every course taught at Michigan Tech must have clearly stated learning goals or objectives. These learning goals should align with degree program goals or USLGs. Proposals for new courses should identify which university and/or program learning goals are met by the course.

Examples of Institutional, Program, and Course Level Goals
for Goal 5 Communication

Institutional level: Students will communicate effectively in writing to a variety of audiences. (University Student Learning Goal)

Program level: Students who complete the business major will communicate effectively to professional and lay audiences using the common business formats. (Degree Program Learning Goal)

Course Level: Students who complete this finance course will be able to write accurate and complete financial reports.

Student Affairs Learning Outcomes

Student Affairs also has learning outcomes that align with the USLGs for students engaged in programs, initiatives, and experiences offered by Student Affairs.