Assessment is about Discovery

Cathy Barrett at Wayne State University uses the analogy of program assessment being like planning a journey with Google Maps. You need to know where you are starting, where you hope to end up, and any potential roadblocks along the way.  Similarly, program assessment provides tools for being reflective about what kinds of skills our students start with and where they need to arrive by the time they finish a program. Assessment tools also help us understand what students are experiencing in a course sequence and where they might be encountering “roadblocks” on their path to successful completion of a program. Therefore, program assessment is about discovery – discovering how our students are collectively experiencing a program – discovering gaps in teaching and learning – and most importantly, discovering how careful changes can improve our programs.

The OIRA is working to expand our portfolio of professional development opportunities to equip members of our community with helpful tools for doing meaningful assessment work. This semester, we will be offering two workshops (each with two time options) focused on writing strong program/course student learning outcomes and developing program curriculum maps.  Both of these topics are foundational in building a good assessment plan.

Below are the dates and times for the workshops:

  • Learning Outcomes – February 24 at 2 PM (Bangor Room)
  • Learning Outcomes – February 25 at 10 PM (Lown Room)
  • Curriculum Mapping – April 1 at 2 PM (Senior Skulls Room)
  • Curriculum Mapping – April 2 at 9 AM (Senior Skulls Room)

If you are interested in attending any of these workshops, please register here. A flyer is available on our website if you would like to promote the upcoming Learning Outcomes Workshop in your unit.

Please contact Mandy Barrington ( or Ryan Weatherbee ( with any questions.