Teaching, Learning & Assessment

CSUMB assessment philosophy & practice

Learning outcomes are only as good as the conversations they generate

Supporting Student Learning

Assessing institutional learning outcomes is one of three components of CSUMB's holistic alignment framework for supporting student achievement of the CSUMB Learning Outcomes. This web page was created to 1) foster a shared understanding of assessment at CSUMB and 2) share with external audiences an approach they might adapt for cultivating an improvement-focused (as opposed to a compliance-focused) assessment culture at their own institutions. Also see the Provost's Statement on Principles of Academic Affairs Assessment.


How can CSUMB better help students be successful as engaged citizens and in their chosen fields through the application of the five core competencies (critical thinking, information literacy, quantitative reasoning, written communication, and oral communication; embodied in CSUMB’s Undergraduate Learning Outcome (ULO) 1: Intellectual Skills), personal, professional, and social responsibility (ULO2); integrative knowledge (ULO3); and specialized knowledge (ULO4)? This question has motivated CSUMB’s institution-level assessment efforts since they were initiated in 2012. However, the foundations for this work were established decades earlier. In 1997, CSUMB established a Center for Teaching, Learning, Assessment that was prescient in understanding and strengthening the connections among facilitating learning, assessment, and faculty engagement (Driscoll and Wood, 2006).

Connecting assessment to teaching and learning has been the focus of national discussions. Those connections were highlighted in a set of Liberal Education articles on the assessment movement and in the Change article by Sullivan and McConnell (2017), “Big Progress in Authentic Assessment, But by Itself Not Enough.” Sullivan and McConnell make those connections explicit by highlighting the results of a study by Condon et. al. (2016) that demonstrated positive impacts on student learning resulting from workshops designed to help faculty (p. 21),

  • Explicitly introduce higher-level learning goals involving writing and critical thinking into their courses -- above and beyond disciplinary content learning goals.
  • Design and introduce assignments meant to help students improve their skills in those higher-order learning areas and building on the disciplinary learning they also wanted student to gain -- i.e. start with learning goals and create assignment pathways to improve student skills in all of the sub-dimensions of the learning goal.

This recent attention to connections among teaching, learning, and assessment -- and the important role of faculty development -- is highly affirming of the improvement-focused approach to assessment practiced for decades at CSUMB. What follows is the history, current status, and future of institutional outcomes assessment at CSUMB.