Assessing Student Learning

  • Writing Learning Outcomes
  • Developing Rubrics
  • Literature & Websites
  • How to Make It Meaningful
  • What Do Other Institutions Do?
  • CAFE Library
  • Assessing Soft Skills

Writing Learning Outcomes

What do you want your students to know and be able to do as a result of taking your course? What do you want your student to know and be able to do as a graduate of your program? 

Having learning outcomes focuses on the most important aspects of your class/program, and also helps students understand what your learning goals are for them and what they should be working toward. 

Four to seven outcomes is a good number for a course or program. More than seven outcomes and it becomes very difficult to track. Focus on the most essential learning aspects of your class. 

Outcomes should all start with: "As a result of taking this course, students will be able to...." followed by a skill/knowlege, and the level to which they should achive that skill/knowledge.

Using measurable verbs in outcomes, makes it possible to track the extent to which students are learning. It is difficul to measure how much students "know" or  "understand" so it is best not to use these verbs. 

Here is a list of active verbs that you might consider for your learning outcomes: 

Active Verbs for Learning Outcomes


Additional Information: Info Packet for Writing Learning Outcomes


Informational Videos: 

Video: The basics of writing learning outcomes by Campus Labs (35 min)

Video: Using Bloom's Taxonomy to write learning outcomes (10 min)

Video: Assessing learning outcomes (58 min)

Developing Rubrics

Literature & Websites

The K. Patricia Cross Academy provides videos and downloads for various in-class learning assessment techniques. Learn more at

Journal: Research and Practice in Assessment, a peer-reviewed journal by the Virginia Assessment Group

Journal: The Intersection, a quarterly publication by the AALHE

Website: Assessment Commons

Website: Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education (AALHE)

How to Make It Meaningful

I feel like I'm doing assessment just to fulfill a requirement and check a box. Is it possible to have meaningful assessment? 

Yes, yes, yes.

Check out Linda Suskies blog about this topic

What Do Other Institutions Do?

The James Madison University Center for Assessment and Research provides practical examples for their campus and for external constituents.


CAFE Library

The Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence has several books about assessment of student learning that you can borrow: 

Assessment Clear and Simple: A Practical Guide For Institutions, Departments, and General Education by Barbara E. Walvoord

Real-Time Student Assessment: Meeting the Imperative for Improved Time to Degree, Closing the Opportunity Gap, and Assuring Student Competencies for 21st Century Needs by Peggy L. Maki

Learning Assessment Techniques: A Handbook For College Faculty by Elizabeth Barkley and Claire Major

Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education by George Kuh et al. 

If you are looking for a specific resource, we are here to help you find it! Reach out to Abby Bigg at or

Assessing Soft Skills

Is it possible to assess soft skills like critical thinking or civic engagement? The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) developed rubrics for 16 abilities that are typically difficult to measure. You can download these rubrics for free on their website to provide a framework for assessing outcomes from inquriy and analysis, creative thinking, and problem solving, to civic engagement and foundations for lifelong learning.