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Learning Processes and Outcomes

At Pacific, assessment of student learning is an ongoing process that serves three integrated functions:

  • demonstrating quality of student learning outcome achievement in programs and across the institution
  • connecting findings to curriculum and pedagogy in order to improve education at Pacific
  • engaging students in outcome-based learning processes  

Integrating these three functions means academic assessment of program, general education, and other broad learning outcomes are grounded by faculty assessment of student performance on curriculum-required assignments. Curriculum-embedded assessment moves from the assessment of individual student learning to faculty evaluation of the quality of observed student performance across the program of study.

Not all assessment of learning at Pacific is curriculum-embedded. In particular, specialized accreditation shapes assessment practices, and professional programs annually report on passing rates for benchmarked licensure and certification exams. For many programs, surveys and interviews of students provide additional windows into student learning, and Pacific, as an institution, participates in benchmarked NSSE and CIRP national surveys. For faculty, their systematic annual review of student performance on curriculum-embedded assessments enables them to connect their deliberative conclusions on assessment findings both with their standards for student learning and with a seamless articulation of action plans for improving pedagogy and curriculum. For example, academic improvement plans might involve developing new learning opportunities or providing students with better description of how assignments are assessed for the learning outcomes. Because faculty can readily connect curriculum-embedded assessment findings with their standards, with the curriculum, and with targeted improvements they are able to ensure the ongoing quality of learning achieved by students.

For students, curriculum-embedded assessment ensures that they have opportunities to learn, as well as to demonstrate, the assessed academic outcomes. Student learning is supported by explicitly-defined learning outcomes that coherently integrate disciplinary content with specified performance requirements both for particular assignments and for the breadth of their program of study. Correspondingly, curriculum-embedded assessment at Pacific engages students in learning by asking them to keep in mind that learning processes and outcomes are joined together in a curricular continuum. (see "Student Friendly Learning Outcomes" framework)

When students actively engage outcome-based learning and assessment processes, they are on a path to achieving the learning outcomes. Through assignments and through feedback on outcome-based assessments, students learn how to show what they can do with what they have learned. Pacific's strong emphasis on applied learning, through internships or other experiential learning approaches, gives students further practice in taking what they have learned to new and authentic settings. In short, curriculum-embedded assessment of learning outcomes at Pacific is an educationally integrated assessment system that both supports student learning and, correspondingly, informs faculty deliberation on curriculum and teaching.

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