Learning Outcomes and Assessment Methodologies

Learning Outcomes

"The outcomes an institution looks for -- and the way to go about assessing them -- reflect in a way few other actions do just what the institution believes its role is."

- Patricia H. Murrell, Memphis State University, 1987


An institution of higher education should express clearly to students their expectations of student performance. These statements of expected student outcomes should be described in terms of knowledge, intellectual capacity, and skills.

All two-year associate degree programs at Sinclair have clearly defined learning outcomes directly related to the demonstration of knowledge and technical skills for students. The learning outcomes for students' achievement in each program are published in departmental brochures and identify specific courses that are related to preparing students to attain each outcome in the program. Please refer to the Learning Outcomes Report for comprehensive, detailed information on learning outcomes and assessment methodologies for each Associate degree program at Sinclair.


All degree seeking students are required to complete a core of general education courses. These courses relate directly to the general education learning outcomes identified as important for all students regardless of their major.

The General Education Committee is charged with defining and assessing the current general education outcomes, examining the core curriculum components, and devising a plan for infusing the outcomes "across the core." In 1994, a checklist was developed for written communication skills evaluation and in 1995, a checklist was developed for oral communication skills. Since that time, measurement tools for creative/critical thinking and values/community/citizenship have also been developed. For more detailed information, please visit the General Education web site.

Assessment Methodologies

The Assessment Committee recognizes there are many different and varied methods of assessing students' progress in achieving minimum competency in the learning outcomes. The following list of suggested methodologies is not intended to be all inclusive, nor is it intended to specify which method is the best. Many academic departments utilize a combination of two or more of these or other methods to effectively assess student achievement of learning outcomes.

The following examples of assessment methods were compiled by the Assessment Committee to provide departments with an overview of the assessment methods that can be utilized in assessing student achievement of learning outcomes.

  • Standardized testing.
  • Locally-designed comprehensive exams in the major.
  • Actual task/talent performances (e.g. internships, student teaching).
  • Simulated task performances - students must identify and solve typical problems within a case setting with responses directly observed by assessors, or by means of an essay or debriefing.
  • Holistic written evaluations of student performances together with a set of rating scales.
  • Open-ended interviews with individuals or groups, often taped.
  • Structured interviews using a discipline-specific conceptual map to plan the interview.
  • Culminating research projects, honors projects, or exhibits which might also require an oral defense or interview.
  • Videotaped performances.
  • External assessors.
  • Portfolios (e.g. art, writing, case studies).
  • Course-embedded assessments, including graduating seminars or capstone courses.
  • Oral proficiency examinations.
  • Survey questionnaires (e.g., of current and former students which ask students to self-report knowledge gains, changes in skill levels, and levels of involvement in the learning process.)
  • Tracking student groups over time to determine term-to-term persistence, program completion and time completion, course passage rates, and grade point performance.
  • Computer simulations.
  • Group problem-solving tasks.
  • Concept Mapping - students construct their own maps, indicating concepts as labeled circles or boxes and showing the relationships among concepts.
  • Gowin's Vee - students are asked to construct a Vee diagram that displays the conceptual methodological elements involved in the knowledge acquired (frequently used in science laboratory instruction).
  • Moral/ethical choice exercises.


A complete Learning Outcomes Report is accessible through this website's home page. The report is compiled as a comprehensive, college-wide report for each academic division (Allied Health, Business Technologies, Engineering Technologies, Extended Learning & Human Services, Fine & Performing Arts, Liberal Arts & Science). This report contains complete information for every academic program at Sinclair including:

  • learning outcomes
  • curriculum information
  • assessment methodologies (formative & summative)
  • results
  • analysis/action
  • general education