Assessment at Ohio State

Ensuring that students learn and succeed is fundamental to Ohio State's mission. Doing so addresses academic priorities and institutional goals to enhance the student experience and provide students with an unsurpassed, student-centered learning experience. As an institution committed to teaching and learning, we are committed to making sure our students and educators are equipped with the best tools for success. One of these tools is learning outcomes assessment.

Assessment is a broad-based activity that occurs at a number of levels across the university in both the curricular and co-curricular learning environments. Some assessments are carried out at the institutional level and others within courses using a myriad of means. Primarily, however, assessment is a faculty-driven endeavor conducted at the program level.

All degree programs have articulated student learning outcomes and provide annual reports on their assessment activities to the Office of Academic Affairs. Undergraduate programs typically report on findings and plans for improvement. Graduate programs address at least one important question about student learning in their programs and also report to the Graduate School. Professional programs provide summary updates, and are monitored regularly on their assessment activities through specialized accreditation. Across all reporting venues, findings are expected to be accurate and represent all students in the program.

Student Learning Outcomes Reporting

Annual Assessment Reporting

Programs provide annual assessment reports, documenting their findings, evaluation, and use of assessment information, and any action planning. As part of the annual reporting, college curricular deans prepare an executive summary of assessment activities within their college, which are shared with the university-wide Academic Program Advisory Committee.   

University-Level Surveys and Data Collections

The Office of Institutional Research and Planning and the Center for the Study of Student Life conduct a variety of institutional-level assessments, including the National Survey of Student Engagement, the Graduate and Professional Survey, the Graduation Survey, and the Collegiate Learning Assessment, which are shared with relevant committees and programs.

Specialized Accreditation

More than 100 programs at Ohio State undergo a specialized accreditation process which routinely includes standards on learning outcomes assessment.  And numerous academic programs, which lead to licensure, display pass rates on their websites.

Academic Unit Review

Departments undergo academic unit review on a seven-year cycle and prepare a self-study, one component of which addresses student learning outcomes assessment.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning outcomes assessment is a strategy to improve student learning in the educational environment, and it involves:

  1. Making clear what students need to know, what they need to be able to do, and the mindset they should acquire from a course of study
  2. Collecting information as to whether the knowledge, skills, and perspectives students are expected to learn are indeed acquired
  3. Evaluating and using collected information to improve learning in an ongoing improvement cycle.

Systematically and routinely gathering evidence about student learning helps us to be accountable to ourselves, our students, and the public.  It also provides information essential for continuous improvement and enhancing quality.  The call in higher education then, indeed a requirement for institutional accreditation, is to use assessment as a strategy to improve learning in all educational programs.

The Office of Academic Affairs oversees, coordinates, and supports learning outcomes assessment processes at Ohio State.  The University Institute for Teaching and Learning provides consultation on best practices.  The Office of Institutional Research and Planning facilitates data collection and reporting.  Explore our website to find additional resources, see examples of Assessment in Action, and discover the many ways assessment is realized at Ohio State.

Faculty and students at Ohio State crafted a Curricular Experience statement broadly addressing this question for all undergraduates. In addition, Ohio State’s general education program, and approximately 175 undergraduate, 150 masters, and 100 doctoral programs have program-specific learning outcomes. 


Graduate and Professional

There are a tremendous amount of assessment resources both at Ohio State and from other universities, organizations and institutions. We hope this sampling of them will help your understanding of the assessment process and facilitate your work.

A number of offices and projects at Ohio State address and support assessment activities.

Several higher education organizations and clearinghouse sites provide information about assessment and best practices.

Other universities display assessment information, helping to make the process and outcomes more transparent.  

Numerous books and reference materials on assessment are readily available.  

  • Angelo, T.A. & Cross, K.P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques:  A handbook for college teachers (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Wiley.
  • Baker, M.J., Carter, M.P., Larick, D.K., & King, M.F (2011).  Assessment and review of graduate programs. Washington, D.C.: Council of Graduate Schools.
  • Kelley, K. A., McAuley, J. W., Wallace, L, J., & Frank, S. G. (2008). Curricular mapping: Process and product.  American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 72(5): Article 100, doi: 10.5688/aj7205100.
  • Kelley, K.A., Stanke, L.D., Rabi, S.M., Kuba, S.E., & Janke, K.K. (2011).  Cross-validation of an instrument for measuring professionalism behaviors.  American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 75(9): Article 179, doi: 10.5688/ajpe759179.
  • Maki, P.L., & Borkowski, N.A. (2006).  The assessment of doctoral education. Herndon, VA: Stylus Publishing.
  • Suskie, L. (2014).  Five dimensions of quality:  A common sense guide to accreditation and accountability. San Francisco: Wiley.
  • Walvoord, B.E.  (2010). Assessment clear and simple:  A practical guide for institutions, departments, and general education (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Wiley.