Outcomes Assessment Philosophy

During the past twenty years, National American University has worked to develop a culture of assessment that extends across its teaching and learning activities and is fundamental to achieving the university’s mission, vision, and values. The ongoing assessment of student learning serves as a tool for continuous improvement in the university’s undergraduate and graduate programs and includes the following essential elements:

  • Qualified faculty, as members of the university’s program curriculum, assessment, and persistence (CAP) committees, design and recommend new educational programs or courses through the academic governance structure for approval following completion of research and planning. The research and planning phase ensures quality has been embedded in each program from inception.
  • Faculty create program learning outcomes for each undergraduate and graduate educational program and the general education core curriculum (Appendix A) that align with the National American University Mission and Student Core Abilities (Appendix B). During this development process, faculty consult good practices in higher learning and in the related professions, as well as program accreditation standards where applicable.
  • To ensure appropriate alignment, faculty assist in the development of program curriculum maps to demonstrate the relationship between the program courses, program learning outcomes, and core abilities. Assessments have been mapped to Program Learning Outcomes however curriculum maps are at various stages of development at the time of this writing.
  • In consultation with faculty, deans pair program learning outcomes with appropriate assessments, standards, and targets that are used to evaluate the quality of teaching and learning in each program and in the general education core curriculum.
  • Faculty also utilize multiple direct and indirect measures to document achievement of the program and general education learning outcomes. Good practices in assessment encourage the use of multiple quantitative and qualitative assessment methods to improve the validity of study results.

At NAU, faculty assess student learning at the course level through tests and assignments that contribute to course grading and reflect students’ success in achieving course competencies. Given the university’s performance-based curriculum philosophy, faculty often identify existing authentic assessments of student performance of skills or student work products as the direct measures of learning outcomes for the academic programs and the general education core curriculum. These system assessments are frequently found in the final courses offered in a program or the general education curriculum, as the phrase “program learning outcomes” implies an end result.

The data from assessment of student learning in the academic programs and general education core curriculum can also be aggregated to report on the university’s core ability learning outcomes.

Every student at National American University participates in outcomes assessment in order for the university to measure and improve student achievement of program learning outcomes. While these processes are fundamental to continuous improvement in teaching and learning, the university will not use the results of the assessment of student learning as the basis for evaluating faculty or for determining the graduation status of students.