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Assessment Initiative   Open a browser with a print friendly version of this page.  E-mail this article
 Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes

At a time when the State University of New York is actively working toward a stronger, even more prominent position in the front ranks of American public higher education, one of our top priorities is improving the quality of undergraduate education across the University.

For example, in the General Education program required of all baccalaureate students, we must be able to show that they are acquiring a knowledge base of sufficient depth and breadth and learning core academic skills and competencies. In the Major, we must be able to show that our students are fully prepared to meet the standards for advanced study, the qualifications of professional careers, and the needs of contemporary society.

The SUNY Assessment Initiative is comprised of three-components, all of which focus on
student learning outcomes:

- Program assessment of all academic programs across the State University;

- Campus-based general education assessment; and,

- Strengthened campus-based assessment

Guidelines for the implementation ( link to .pdf file, link to .txt file ) of campus-based assessment of general education and the major were developed and distributed to campuses in December 2000.

Key components of Campus-based assessment of the major, begun in fall 2001, include:

  • One cycle of assessment should be completed every five to seven years;
  • Programs should include measures of student learning outcomes in their plans;
  • Programs should seek review of their final assessment report by an external review team, including a campus visit and report to the chief academic officer; and,
  • Programs should include in their plans some strategy for measuring change in students’ knowledge and skills over time, specific to designated learning outcomes.

Key components of Campus-based assessment of general education, begun in the fall of 2002, include:

  • A comprehensive plan for assessing campus success in meeting the learning outcomes of each element of the SUNY general education requirement (comprising ten subject areas and two learning competencies: mathematics; natural sciences; social sciences; American history; western civilization; other world civilizations; humanities; the arts; foreign language; basic communication; and critical thinking and information management.)

    - For example, the learning outcomes identified for the Mathematics general education requirement state that students must show competence in arithmetic; algebra; geometry; data analysis; and quantitative reasoning.

Efforts are currently underway to implement Strengthened Campus-Based Assessment (SCBA) for the fall 2006 semester. SCBA results directly from a SUNY Board of Trustees Resolution adopted in June 2004. This endeavor requires campuses to use externally-referenced measures – using either nationally-normed exams, or rubrics developed by panels of State University distinguished faculty – to assess student achievement in Critical Thinking (Reasoning), Basic Communication, and Mathematics. The data yielded by these efforts will provide important supplemental – and likely affirming – information to the data that have already been provided through campus-based general education assessment.

  • A comprehensive assessment initiative on this scale and of this scope is unprecedented in the nation, and it is especially noteworthy in that it represents extraordinary collaboration among central stakeholders, including the SUNY Board of Trustees, SUNY System Administration, and faculty governance from across the State University.
  • The significance of participation and involvement by faculty governance in this initiative cannot be overstated since, as noted by assessment experts from across the nation, assessing student learning without such involvement is a meaningless exercise.

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  • October 2005....Dr. Trudy Banta, one of the most highly recognized authorities on assessment in higher education, is devoting a full issue of the publication Assessment Update - regarded as the source for higher education assessment across the United States - to the SUNY Assessment Initiative. This issue will feature a lead article by Assistant Provost Patty Francis, Provost Salins and Exec. Vice Provost Anne Huot, and will also include articles from four of our campuses: the College of Environmental Science and Forestry, SUNY Farmingdale, Suffolk County Community College, and SUNY Fredonia.
  • The initiative has been chosen for important presentations to: The Middles States Commission on Higher Education
    Assessment Conference (Baltimore, October, 2005);
    The American Association of Higher Education (AAHE)
    National Assessment Conference (Boston, June 2002);
    The 14th International Conference on Assessing
    Quality in Higher Education (Vienna, Austria, July 2002)
  • The SUNY Assessment Initiative: initial campus and system perspectives ( link to .pdf file, link to .txt file ) , by Patricia L. Francis and Donald A. Steven, was published in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 28, No. 3, 2003 .

Forms for Filing Campus Assessment Reports

The following forms should be used to accompany campuses' annual assessment reports for general education and academic majors to System Administration.


For the latest news on the SUNY Assessment Initiative,
visit the General Education Assessment Group (GEAR) online.

  *NOTE: You need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader (free software) in order to view and print PDF files.

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Last Update - 7/26/07