Assessment in the time of COVID-19

Assessment, in its simplest form, is all about asking questions. When we perform assessments in the classroom, we are asking students questions so they can show us what they have learned. When we do program assessment, we ask bigger questions about our programs: How are students meeting the stated program outcomes? How does our course sequencing and choice of formative assessments affect these outcomes?

During our adjustment to life with COVID-19, there has been a tremendous amount of informal assessment work being done.  Without our business-as-usual routines and ways of doing things, we have all been forced to reconsider what’s most important to our courses and programs and how we can adjust to make sure the learning outcomes are met. Many of the daily assessments might look different, but the important work of assessment…of asking questions about our programs and looking for the answers…is happening all over.  Because of this, we can continue to offer our students strong and responsive academic programs.

To continue to assist you during this time, the “assessment side” of the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment is working hard to build out a portfolio of workshops offered for assessment-related activities. Two workshops on learning outcomes took place in March.  The purpose of the workshops was to give attendees an overview of learning outcomes at the program and course level and allow time for them to practice developing their own. A copy of the slides and handout from these workshops can be found on our website.

A recording of our most recent workshop on curriculum mapping can be found on our website. Curriculum mapping is a graphical way to visualize where program outcomes are being introduced, reinforced and mastered throughout a program. Creating a curriculum map is usually the second step, after developing program outcomes, in a program’s assessment plan. Once created, the map provides a way to identify gaps and redundancies within a program of study and therefore allows for more purposeful planning to maximize program effectiveness. In this workshop we will review the steps needed to create a curriculum map and discuss how to use it to inform curricular review.

 We will continue to create and offer assessment workshops. If there are specific program assessment topics that need to be addressed within your unit, we also offer tailored workshops for smaller groups. Please reach out to Mandy Barrington ( and Ryan Weatherbee ( with questions.