Brightspace – Learning Outcomes Assessment Tools

A fortunate advantage of the University of Maine System adopting Brightspace as our LMS has been access to new learning outcomes assessment tools. These tools allow instructors to align course and/or program learning outcomes with specific assignments, rubrics, quiz questions, portfolio artifacts and discussions.  Using a learning outcomes assessment approach allows instructors to separate measures of learning from grades, which may be impacted by factors unrelated to learning (e.g., attendance, participation, and task completion).  While a particular assignment may cover aspects of several important learning outcomes, the Brightspace tools allow instructors to gather achievement data for the specific components of the assignment that align to specific outcomes. For example, an end-of-unit test may have 50 questions, with 10 questions about course outcome #1, 10 other questions about outcome #2 and so on. Each question can be aligned to the appropriate outcome so that after students complete the test the instructor and students can see how progress is being made towards each outcome separately. The overall test grade does not permit such a level of specificity.

All learning outcomes in Brightspace are currently scored against a 4-level achievement scale: Exceeding, Achieving, Approaching, and Emerging, which is a commonly used scale for outcomes assessment. It provides enough information to identify if a student is on-track with their learning without over-complicating the process. Additional achievement scales will likely be available for department-specific use in the future. 

Learning outcomes achievement results are available to students when they receive their assessment feedback and to the instructor and students under the Class Progress part of the course shell where achievement over time can be viewed (see Figure 1 below for an example).

graph of learning outcomes

Figure 1: An example of the learning outcomes view from within Class Progress. In this case, there were four assessments linked to the outcome called “Bloom’s 1.2 – Understanding”. The bar graph shows achievement over time. Further details and specific feedback are available to the students when they click the assessments listed at the bottom of the figure.






Instructors can also gain a course overview of outcomes achievement in the Mastery view of the gradebook. Mastery view shows the students’ current achievement level for every outcome that has been assessed in the course. It also provides a course overview for each outcome so the instructor can quickly see the progress of the class as a whole. In the example below (Figure 2), the outcomes are listed across the columns with the pop-out showing overall class progress for the first outcome. It is easy to see in this example that the majority of students in the class are at the Emerging and Approaching levels for this outcome.

Brightspace screenshot

Figure 2: Mastery View of the gradebook.

The learning outcomes tools in Brightspace are currently available for course use. For more information on how to get started please see the Brightspace Learning Outcomes Tools area of the Assessment page on the OIRA website, as well as a recording of the recent CITL workshop on this topic. 

The learning outcome tools can also be used to help gather programmatic assessment data, which are an important part of the University Assessment Plan. Although there are some current reporting limitations, we expect them to be addressed by Brightspace in the near future. If you are interested in using the learning outcomes tools for program assessment please contact Ryan ( to have your program outcomes entered into the system and discuss your specific needs.