Assessment Definitions

In order to enhance our conversations around assessment at Otterbein University, we have adopted the following common definitions:

Assessment Leader
At Otterbein, each program has the opportunity to appoint an Assessment Leader, an individual who will have opportunities to participate in professional development related to assessment issues, and who can serve as a resource to the academic program as it plans for and executes the student learning assessment segment of its annual and long-range development reports.

Authentic assessment
Assessment of student learning must include multiple types of data gathered at multiple points in time. Such assessment should be both qualitative and quantitative and occur in the context of everyday teaching.

Evidence-based assessment
Assessment of student learning must be evidence-based. To be accountable for past efforts and to plan for the future, programs must measure and document student effectiveness in reaching goals and outcomes.

Flexible assessment
Assessment of student learning must occur in connection to the program’s relationship to University learning goals and to the program’s unique internally developed and/or externally mandated goals and structures. Program review acknowledges differences among programs and respects their decisions about what aspects of the program to examine at different points in time, what types of data to collect and analyze, and what results to apply toward future development.

Learning goal
At Otterbein, we define a learning goal as a broad, aspirational statement of what we want our students to know or do, or an attribute of how we want them to develop.

Learning outcome
At Otterbein, we define a learning outcome as a statement of specific knowledge, skills, values or dispositions students obtain as a result of participation in an academic program.

Ongoing assessment
Assessment of student learning must be continuous and interwoven into the daily life of the program. Such assessment allows the program to gather different data at different times and target its reflections about improvement. The goal is not to assess everything all the time, but to establish the habit of regularly choosing particular student learning outcomes to measure and then gathering and examining data for those outcomes.

Program
In our program review process, a “program” is defined as any unit submitting an annual and long-range development plan. Academic units are considered to be departments and interdisciplinary programs (those that constitute majors and those that are part of general education requirements at Otterbein). An academic program may encompass several majors (undergraduate and graduate), a single major, or a piece of our general education requirements.

Program Learning Goals
At Otterbein, we define a learning goal as a broad, aspirational statement of what we want our students to know or do, or an attribute of how we want them to develop. Academic programs may identify overarching goals under which their learning outcomes are organized. Goals themselves are not crafted as specifically measurable statements of student performance; however, measurement of a program’s outcomes should allow the program to determine whether or not goals are being met.

Program Learning Outcome
At Otterbein, we define a learning outcome as a statement of specific knowledge, skills, values or dispositions students obtain as a result of participation in an academic program. Every academic program should identify specific learning outcomes for students, which are measured as part of the annual and long-range program development process. Every major’s learning outcomes should align with the University Learning Goals so that there is at least one outcome specified for each of the Goals (Knowledgeable, Multi-Literate, Engaged, Responsible, Inquisitive).

University Learning Goals
Otterbein has defined learning goals for all students in our academic programs. Otterbein graduates should be Knowledgeable, Multi-Literate, Engaged, Responsible, and Inquisitive. We often refer to the University Learning Goals by the acronym “KMERI.”