Teaching, Learning & Assessment

Holistic alignment

Using assessment results / Closing the loop

Learning outcomes are only as good as the conversations they generate

Using assessment results is one of the the three pillars of CSUMB's holistic alignment strategy for improving student learning. Read about CSUMB's Assessment Philosophy & Practice.

Framework for using assessment results to improve student learning

Guiding principles

  1. No harm to faculty or staff during the assessment process. As the Latin root assidere suggests, we believe assessment is a process that is done with and not to our faculty and students. Using assessment effectively means we work alongside programs to support student success by improving student learning.
  2. Responses are evidence-based.
  3. Responses are implemented at course, program, and/or institutional levels.
  4. Responses enhance student learning.
  5. Responses reach all students, ensuring equitable access to improving student learning.


  1. Identify assessments that suggest opportunities to improve student learning.
  2. Generate ideas for improving student achievement in the following categories (ideally with student input):
    1. Student information (support structures, readiness, life experiences, etc.)
    2. Outcomes (clarity, fit, alignment with vision and mission, etc.)
    3. Curriculum (content, understanding, skills, etc.)
    4. Pedagogy (facilitating learning, culturally responsive teaching, etc.)
    5. Assessment (measuring achievement of outcomes, rubric development, etc.)
    6. External alignment (interdisciplinary, career, workforce fit, authentic assignments, etc.)
  3. Develop a strategic plan (prioritize interventions)
  4. Implement interventions
  5. Assess the response

Using assessment results (hypothetical example)

1. Identify assessments that indicate opportunities to improve student learning.

  • Data source: Upper division courses that meet MLO 3
  • Time frame: Summer 2017 ULO 1 assessment of written communication, information literacy, and critical thinking
  • Courses from which student work was assessed: BIO 400, BIO 403, BIO, 445, and BIO 498
  • Assessment instrument: ILO1 Written Communication Integrated Rubric
  • Assessment results
Assessment results
  • Interpretation of results: The 2017 assessment of written communication suggests opportunities for improving student achievement of written communication outcomes in all areas, but in particular for position, conclusions and outcomes, and grammar and mechanics.

2.  Generate ideas for improving student achievement in the following categories (ideally with student input):

Category Response 1 Response 2 Response 3 Response 4
Student information Work with the Cooperative Learning Center (CLC) Develop on-line, self-study materials Assess prior knowledge Implement peer, near-peer, or faculty mentoring
Outcomes Revise MLO to emphasize written communication Add course-level written communication outcomes to more courses Get student feedback on program-level written communication outcomes Communicate outcomes to students
Curriculum Change course prerequisites Add a new course Align content in sequences courses Improve alignment with GE courses
Pedagogy Implement Reading Apprenticeship Provide formative feedback Facilitate active learning Implement peer teaching observations and feedback
Assessment Conduct student focus groups Align rubrics used in different courses Create a signature assignment used across multiple sections and/or courses Use the institutional written communication rubric to improve the program-level rubric
External alignment Solicit input from employers Create authentic assignments Survey alumni Survey current students engaged in internships

3. Develop a strategic plan

Identify possible response(s), then meet with program faculty and staff to decide priority and fine-tune response(s)

To address students scoring below proficient on conclusion and outcomes, the following interventions were prioritized:

  • Priority One - Student Information: Work with Cooperative Learning Center writing tutors on addressing conclusions and outcomes in writing assignments
  • Priority Two - Student Information: Create an online writing resource for students on addressing conclusions and outcomes in writing assignments
  • Priority Three - Pedagogy: Provide professional development to faculty on facilitating classroom learning activities designed to help students address conclusions and outcome in department-specific writing assignments.
  • Priority Four - Curriculum: Review relevant GE writing assignment prompts and look for alignment opportunities.

4. Implement response(s)

Writing center director will work with learning center writing tutors to develop strategies for helping students address conclusions and outcomes in writing assignments.

5. Assess the response(s)

Keep in mind that changes are not necessarily improvements. Determine how you will assess whether the response resulted in improvement. But keep in mind that this is not a disciplinary research project, so it’s unlikely you will prove beyond a reasonable doubt. That is, this is about making decisions using some -- rather than no -- data and IMproving, not proving. Identify both direct and indirect assessment opportunities.

  • Direct: During the next program and/or institutional assessment projects, score work from students who participated in classes in which one of the responses was implemented.
  • Indirect: Survey students about their understanding of what constitutes conclusions and outcomes in writing assignments, what support they have received, and their own proficiency. Survey faculty members who teach in relevant GE and major-based course on their ability to support student learning in this area and whether they are seeing improvements in student proficiency in conveying conclusions and outcomes in writing assignment.

ULO Coordinators

CSUMB's Undergraduate Learning Outcomes (ULOs) state the knowledge, skills, and abilities that CSUMB faculty help undergraduate students acquire and demonstrate upon graduation. The ULO Coordinators and Scholars conduct annual assessments designed to help faculty better facilitate student learning and achievement of the ULOs.

In addition to the responsibilities listed below, the ULO Coordinators conduct ULO assessments with the ULO Scholars and prepare annual ULO Assessment Reports.

  • Critical thinking (ULO1): Eric Martin
  • Information literacy (ULO1): Sarah Dahlen
  • Quantitative reasoning (ULO1): Judith Canner
  • Written communication (ULO1): Nelson Graff
  • Oral communication (ULO1): Lee Ritscher
  • Personal, professional, and social responsibility (ULO2): Eric Martin
  • Integrated knowledge (ULO3): Amanda Pullum

ULO Coordinator responsibilities

  • Plan and facilitate institution-level ULO assessment projects with ULO Scholars
  • Prepare annual ULO assessment reports
  • Develop strategies for improving student achievement of the ULOs
  • Design and facilitate ULO professional development activities
  • Assist programs with planning program-level assessment projects aligned with the ULOs
  • Tracks national conversations, research, and best practices on the teaching, learning, and assessment of the ULO
  • Supports ULO communication efforts
  • Work with ULO Scholars to increase use of CSUMB's institutional learning outcomes assignment guides and rubrics

ULO Scholars Program

The ULO Scholars Program supports assessment of the ULOs and advances faculty expertise in facilitating student learning.

Communication Across the Disciplines

Communication Across the Disciplines (CAD) works with the ULO Coordinators and Teaching, Learning, and Assessment on assessing the ULO 1 Intellectual Skills, interpreting assessment results, and identifying professional development opportunities. CAD supports faculty from all disciplines who want to enhance their ability to help students develop as writers and oral communicators. To request a consultation or workshop, contact CAD Director Nelson Graff at (831) 582-4626 or ngraff@csumb.edu.

Faculty support

Professional development opportunities

Read about the different kinds of professional development opportunities regularly offered at CSUMB

Tools for faculty

ULO assignment guides and rubrics: To foster shared understanding of the intellectual skills, CSUMB educators are encouraged to review and use the intellectual skills assignment guides, rubrics, and rubric guides. These can be used to design learning activities and provide students with the guidance and feedback they need to improve.

Assignment review service

Instructors can submit assignment guidelines to the CAD Director who will have the assignments reviewed by appropriate individuals (e.g. the CAD Director, ULO1 Coordinators, Cooperative Learning Center tutors, etc.) and provide confidential, written suggestions on how to improve the assignment.

Information literacy in oral communication guide

The library has created a Best Practices Guide for Information Literacy in Oral Communication for faculty and students.