Guide to OBE
Developing a Programme Learning Outcomes Assessment Plan

(2) Programme Intended Learning Outcomes
(4) How the Data Will be Collected
A Step-by-Step Guide to Developing Your Programme LOAP
Learning Outcomes Assessment Methods and Measures

What is expected or required?

  • For each of the intended learning outcomes of your programme listed in your LOAP, describe specific method(s) and measure(s) you will use to assess the overall programme effectiveness with respect to that particular outcome.
  • If you would like to see an example of this, please refer to Note 3 in Appendix 3.
  • Appropriate methods and measures are needed to ensure that the data collected are credible and trustworthy, and useful for identifying the strengths as well as areas in your programme that need improvement.
Useful References
  • You may need to include both direct and indirect measures in your programme LOAP.
  • Direct measures are based on direct assessment of students' work, performance or behaviours. The list below describes some common examples of direct measures. If you wish to find out more about any of these methods, more detailed descriptions and references for further reading can be found in Appendix 5.
    • Course-embedded assessment: This uses assessment tasks that are used in existing subjects. As well as assessing the task for the purpose of giving student grades, the same task is used to assess what percentage of the students have achieved the programme learning outcome in question. For example, to assess written communication skills a research report that the students are required to produce for, say, a disciplinary subject can be evaluated using an assessment rubric for the purpose of programme outcomes assessment.
    • Capstone experience or project: This kind of experience draws on all of the knowledge, concepts and skills covered in the whole programme ˇV the students are required to combine various aspects of their experiences throughout the programme. If the outcome of interest is, for example, critical thinking, suitable rubrics can be developed to evaluate how well the students have achieved and demonstrated critical thinking in their capstone experience paper or project report.
    • Portfolio assessment: A portfolio is usually a collection of selected student work that demonstrates the studentˇ¦s progress and achievement in certain areas.
    • Performance assessment in WIE or placements: This can be an effective way to assess studentsˇ¦ practical knowledge, skills and attitudes in a workplace context. Clinical or workplace supervisors can use specially-designed assessment forms and rubrics to assess outcomes such as interpersonal, communication, critical thinking and/or problem-solving skills.
    • Tests and examinations: These can be either tests that you have developed to measure your studentsˇ¦ knowledge and skills, or commercially produced ones (e.g., the California Critical Thinking Test, the Collegiate Learning Assessment, the Major Field Test in specific discipline). They are usually used to measure process and content-related knowledge. One way in which tests can be used to measure how well your students have learned something you have taught is to use a pre-test/post-test model.
  • Indirect measures normally involve stakeholders' perceptions of how well the students have attained the learning outcomes and thus, are relatively more subjective in nature. Below are some examples of indirect measures that are used often. Again, you can find some more detailed information about these in Appendix 5 if you would like to read more.

    • Alumni surveys or interviews: These are a good way to collect information about graduates' views of their preparation for professional work, satisfaction with the programme or the relevance of the curriculum.
    • Employer surveys or interviews: Asking employers about their levels of satisfaction with recent graduates is a good way to get another view of your students' attainments.
    • Student surveys or interviews: One of the best sources of data is the students themselves. They can give us perceptive insights about their attainment of outcomes. These can either be conducted to collect formative information during the students' course, or as an exit survey to collect their reflections.
    • External reviews: Peer review of academic programmes or studentsˇ¦ work is a widely accepted and useful way to benchmark the quality of the programme and graduates against external standards.
  • Direct measures are more costly to collect. However, they are more authentic and credible, and therefore are needed for the more important/prioritized/most essential outcomes, particularly for accreditation and accountability purposes. Indirect measures, on the other hand, are easier to collect, but are less objective and credible as evidence of actual learning outcomes achieved by students.
  • Try as much as possible to make use of course-embedded assessments (see description in Appendix 5) to collect direct evidence of student learning outcomes from existing assessment tasks that are being used to grade students. Since students are simply fulfilling normal course requirements, it does not become an add-on task; there are no issues of motivating students to do the task/s and the results can provide useful additional information for the subject teachers.
  • Focus on the most important outcomes: Most programmes have many learning outcomes, but there is no need to consider all of them in this exercise unless you are specifically required to do so for professional accreditation. You may focus, instead, on the most important outcomes that are of the greatest interest/concern to the programme team or other stakeholders, particularly those that are more likely to sustain under the new 4-year undergraduate degree structure. One possibility is to develop a multi-year rotation plan so that you will address different outcomes each year and thus cover all of them over a few years.
  • The best starting point is to find out what you already have in place rather than re-inventing a completely new set of assessment activities or tools (e.g. you may already have appropriate course assignments or exam components that you can use to assess certain programme outcomes, or feedback/surveys on studentsˇ¦ learning process or outcomes).
  • It is useful to check out and include existing surveys conducted by SAO and EDC that can provide useful (indirect) data for assessing your programme outcomes (e.g. SAARD [Self Assessment of All Round Development] questionnaire, graduate employment survey, alumni survey).