The assessment of student learning outcomes is integral to achieving the National American University Mission and Purposes and Core Values. In order to prepare students for careers in health care, business, and business-related fields through quality higher education, student learning outcomes must be measured to document academic achievement and to identify opportunities for improvement. In addition to promoting continuous improvement, the assessment of student learning also encourages the university to be accountable to its constituents through the documentation and reporting of its academic outcomes.
The following are essential elements in the assessment of student learning at National American University:
- Qualified faculty design and approve new academic programs and support services after appropriate research and planning have been completed so that quality is embedded in all programs and services.
- Qualified faculty create program goals and student learning outcomes for each undergraduate and graduate academic program, consistent with the University Mission and Purposes and Core Values, program accreditation standards, and good practices in higher learning and in the profession. These learning outcomes are combined with faculty-developed criteria to serve as the basis for assessing the quality of teaching and learning, as well as related support services, provided within and across academic programs and campuses.
- Student learning outcomes for all academic programs are measured in a systematic and continuous manner, using multiple direct and indirect assessment methodologies to document achievement of outcomes, as well as learning over time. While most assessment methods will be objective and quantitative, others may be subjective and qualitative. There is no single best method for measuring and assessing student academic achievement and the complexities of higher learning. Use of multiple quantitative and qualitative methods is encouraged to allow for triangulation of the data and improve the validity and reliability of the conclusions drawn from assessment reports.
With the university’s adoption of performance-based curriculum development, authentic assessments that measure student performance or work products are integrated, as appropriate, into program assessment plans. In addition, existing classroom assessments and data collected and reported to meet external accountability requirements are utilized where possible.
- Faculty peer groups with representatives from across the university campuses/regions analyze the collected data to determine whether learning outcomes have been achieved or opportunities for improvement are present. Recommended actions for improvement are implemented, and learning outcomes continue to be assessed until improvement can be documented.
- Relevant findings from the assessment of student learning are included in the university’s budget and strategic and operational plans to promote quality academic programs and support services and encourage excellent teaching and effective learning. Findings and actions resulting from the assessment of student learning are also linked to scheduled academic program reviews and the university’s institutional effectiveness efforts, where appropriate.
Consistent with this philosophy, every student at National American University participates in periodic assessments in order for the university to measure and improve student learning outcomes and academic support services. A variety of direct and indirect assessment methods are used and may include examinations, rubrics, competency checklists, portfolio analysis, and survey or interview participation.
Although measurement and evaluation of student learning is fundamental to the university’s assessment program, outcomes are not intended to be used as the basis for evaluating faculty or for determining the graduation status of students. The assessment of student learning will not create barriers to hinder student progress toward educational goals.