Great Falls College MSU

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Assessment

Assessment Resources for Faculty

This page offers links to forms, instructions, and other resources to support faculty through the assessment process. If you have questions or need help, please contact Mandy Wright, Director of Teaching and Learning Innovation.

Student Learning Assessment Process

Campus Syllabus Template

    • The current course syllabus template can be found on the academic forms page. All course syllabi must follow this template.
    • Work with your program director or department chair to ensure the information on your syllabus matches your program or department curriculum map.
    • Column 1 (course outcomes) should match the Montana University System CCN (FLOC) outcomes, if available.
    • Column 3 (program outcomes) should align with the appropriate General Education Core, AA/AS, or specific program outcomes listed in the current catalog.
      • Not every course outcome must align with a program outcome.
    • Column 4 (College Learning Outcomes) should only be completed if your course aligns with a CLO. Do not align with a CLO if you cannot identify an assignment or assessment tool that can be used to assess it.

Course-Level Assessment

Faculty are responsible for assessing student learning in their courses using best practices. Course-level assessment reporting is not required as part of the programmatic and institutional assessment process.

Common Course Outline and Curriculum Map--optional

    • To help with planning and to maintain consistency between sections of the same course, General Studies department chairs are encouraged to create and maintain updated common course outlines and curriculum maps. All sections of the course should adhere to the same topical outline and outcomes.

Learning Outcomes Assessment Form (formerly the Phase IV)--optional

    • This form is no longer required. Faculty may use or modify it for their own course-level data tracking.

Programmatic Assessment

Student Learning Assessment Faculty Reflections (available from department chairs and in the Program Assessment Team)

Institutional Assessment

Full implementation of the revised assessment process began in fall 2020. The next stage of the process, emphasizing programmatic assessment, began in fall 2021. Future plans include developing a standardized method to assess the College Learning Outcomes and creating a mechanism for peer review of assessment data.

Scroll down to find answers to common questions.

Can't find what you're looking for? Contact Mandy Wright, Director of Teaching and Learning Innovation.

How can I design my course for alignment?

The video below offers a clear and concise overview of designing for alignment.

Play video

How do all of the different levels of outcomes fit together?

The word "outcome" can be considered synonymous with the phrase "learning goals." As an institution, we have learning goals for students at the lesson/unit, course, program, and institutional levels. The graphic below illustrates how learning goals (outcomes) broaden as they apply to more students.

At the assignment or unit level, the learning goals are narrow and specific to the lesson or unit being taught in the classroom. These learning goals should align with the course-level learning goals, which indicate what students should be able to do upon completion of the course. The course learning goals align with the program outcomes, which indicate what students should be able to do upon completion of the program. Finally, everything aligns with the College Learning Outcomes, which are the learning goals our institution has for all students who complete a credential with us.

graphic showing relationship between levels of outcomes

Why does my department/program need a curriculum map?

A curriculum map shows how all of the courses taught in your program/department fit together to create a cohesive, meaningful learning experience for students. By creating a curriculum map, we can show at a high level where program outcomes are met in courses and give a more holistic picture of student learning. General Studies departments should create a map showing how their courses align with the MUS Core outcomes. This supports the assessment of the Core and the AA/AS.

CTE and other programs should create curriculum maps aligning with their outcomes as listed in the GFC MSU catalog.

Program mapping also can help with curriculum planning. For example, a completed program map might show where some program outcomes are heavily addressed while others are not addressed sufficiently. This might help faculty to realign courses with program outcomes to ensure a more consistent learning experience for students.

How should I create my program's curriculum map?

The curriculum map on the program assessment plan template should be used to indicate how program outcomes align with courses within the program. Program directors should lead their areas in creating these maps. General Studies departments can modify this document but should adhere to the Gen Ed Core reporting schedule for assessment reporting.

How should programs map to related instruction courses?

Related instruction courses should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Each program should consider the role that the related instruction course plays in the program overall.

If the program has an outcome that directly aligns with a related instruction course, then that course might be included on the program map. For example, if the welding program has an outcome related to communication that is met through students completing WRIT 104, then WRIT 104 should be included on the map.

If programs map to related instruction courses, the program director should work with the faculty in the department teaching the related instruction course to determine how and when the course will be used to assess the program outcome.

What is a Common Course Outline and who should complete it?

The Common Course Outline is intended to serve as a master document for each course that is taught across multiple sections with different instructors. This pertains primarily to General Education (Core) courses.

The Common Course Outline eliminates instructor or class-specific policies and procedures, focusing instead on the learning outcomes for the course and alignment with program and institutional outcomes.

While completion of this document is optional, ideally, all General Studies courses will have a completed Common Course Outline.

How is the Common Course Outline different from the outcomes table that is on the current syllabus template?

The Common Course Outline and the alignment table on the current syllabus template do include some of the same information. The Common Course Outline is intended to serve as the "master" document guiding faculty to create their syllabus charts for courses that are taught across multiple sections.

Do we have an assessment committee?

Yes! Thanks to a wonderful group of faculty volunteers, we now have a standing assessment committee with members representing all three academic divisions. See the committee page for a list of current members and other information. Meeting minutes and documents can be found in the left-hand navigation menu.

I teach a General Education course. How do I report on student learning assessment?

Faculty who teach Gen Ed courses will complete the Student Learning Assessment Reflection. This is available from department chairs or in your department's channel in the Program Assessment Team.

Play video

I teach in a non-Gen Ed program. How do I report on student learning assessment?

Health sciences, business, technology, and trades programs have individualized reporting processes, based on programmatic accreditation and other individual needs. Please work with your program director to follow the process unique to your area. Remember: faculty should continue to assess student learning in their courses as you normally would, regardless of programmatic assessment reporting.

How does the assessment process work?

Our current assessment process has evolved with the goal of emphasizing program and institutional-level assessment of student learning outcomes.

graphic of student learning assessment process

What are the College Learning Outcomes?

We have 3 College Learning Outcomes: Communication, Critical Thinking, and Professionalism.

The College Learning Outcomes (CLOs) are our institutional learning goals for all students. The College Learning Outcomes (CLOs) are statements of the general knowledge, skills, and habits of mind that all students at Great Falls College MSU should be able to demonstrate upon completion of their degree programs. The College Learning Outcomes (CLOs) support the college’s mission by encouraging high-quality learning activities within programs, enhancing the professional and personal lives of students.

Our campus has implemented different iterations of institutional learning outcomes over the years. We began with the 8 Abilities in 2007 and then transitioned to the 5 CLOs in 2016. Based on faculty feedback and actual alignment to and assessment of the 5 CLOs, we discovered that the 5 CLOs did not meet our needs as an institution. In the fall of 2019, faculty feedback and brainstorming during assessment workshops led to the revision of the CLOs.

The 3 revised College Learning Outcomes were accepted by the Curriculum Committee on November 15, 2019. The revised CLOs, as well as other information about student learning assessment, can be found on the Institutional Student Learning Outcomes page.

How should I assess the College Learning Outcomes (CLOs)?

The CLOs have been revised and adopted by the institution. Programs should map their program outcomes to the CLOs. The goal should be to show alignment with all three CLOs over the course of an entire program.

Not every course will align with a CLO. There is also not an expectation that courses align with all three CLOs.

Faculty should assess the CLOs in a manner consistent with their department or program assessment plan. Some areas will have common assessments for CLOs while others will leave CLO assessment to the discretion of individual faculty. It is important that any courses aligned with a CLO actually include an assessment in line with the outcome statements for each CLO. Discussion or coverage of a CLO is not the same thing as assessment.

How do the CLOs fit into the institutional assessment process?

The College Learning Outcomes are the general competencies we want to ensure our students can demonstrate when they leave GFC MSU. While the CLOs are assessed in courses using assignments and other assessment tools, these assessments represent student learning more broadly, regardless of the degree program. A short video overview of the CLOs and institutional assessment can be viewed below:

Play video

How should I assess my course learning outcomes?

Faculty should assess their courses in the way that is most appropriate for their area's needs and to ensure student success. A typical course assessment model usually includes maintaining a record of strengths and opportunities for improvement observed in student work, changes implemented in the course, data leading to those changes, and results of the changes. Documenting this type of information will help you as make decisions about your course and will support departmental and programmatic assessment and curricular conversations.

Faculty who want to use or modify the optional Learning Outcomes Assessment Form (LOAF, formerly the Phase IV) to track student learning and attainment of course outcomes may do so for their own purposes. This document will not be submitted for assessment reporting.

How can I get help assessing student learning in my course?

The Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) is a great place to start! The staff can help you brainstorm new instructional and assessment strategies or make updates to current ones.

Below are links to two workshops the TLC has offered on course-level assessment:

Classroom Assessment Strategies Workshop

How well are the assessment tools in your course helping students demonstrate learning? Are there other types of assessment tools or strategies that would be a better fit? Join Mandy to explore formative and summative assessment strategies.

TILT (Transparency in Learning and Teaching) Workshop

How can I help students understand how and why they are learning course content? What can I do to help students understand how assignments fit into the overall design of the course? Join Mandy to discuss the TILT project and how transparent instruction and assignment design can transform your students' learning experiences.

What are course outcomes?

Each course should have a set of learning goals that students should be able to attain and demonstrate upon completion of the course. Most of our courses have pre-determined course outcomes that come from the Montana University System's Common Course Numbering database.

How do I know what outcomes to use for my course?

First, check the Montana University System's CCN Course Guide at https://ccn.mus.edu/search/. Search for your course to see if there are FLOC outcomes for it.

Some courses do not have FLOC outcomes. The Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE) has begun a review of all CCN courses and formed new FLOCs for several disciplines. Your discipline may eventually have FLOC outcomes, but until then, use the course outcomes that you have been using on your syllabi.

A good practice would be to occasionally revisit the CCN Course Guide at https://ccn.mus.edu/search/ to check for updated FLOC outcomes.

If you need help revising your course outcomes, contact Mandy Wright.

What is Common Course Numbering?

Common Course Numbering is the Montana University System's process to ensure equivalency between courses taught at multiple institutions, in order to support transferability and transparency in course offerings. Under common-course numbering, any course determined by faculty to be equivalent to any other course must have the same prefix, number, and title.

What are the FLOC outcomes?

As part of the Common Course Numbering process, groups of faculty called Faculty Learning Outcomes Committees (FLOCs) meet to review courses in a discipline. Through these reviews, common learning outcomes for courses are established.

Am I required to use the FLOC outcomes?

If your course has been through the Common Course Numbering process and FLOC outcomes are available, you must use those outcomes. The current interpretation of the "80% rule" from OCHE is that all FLOC outcomes must be used in a course. If a department/program wants to create and include additional outcomes, they may do so, as long as the FLOC outcomes comprise 80% or more of the total number of outcomes.

How do I find the FLOC outcomes for my course?

Visit the Montana University System's CCN Course Guide at https://ccn.mus.edu/search/, There, you can search for courses in your subject area. To see the FLOC outcomes, click on the blue course prefix and number. See below for an example.

example CCN table

Writing measurable learning objectives can be challenging. Here are some tools to help.

Writing Measurable Course Objectives

Objective Builder Tool

Learning Objectives Builder

Do I have to use the LOAF (formerly the Phase IV form) to assess my course?

No, the use of this form is optional. Faculty who want to use the optional Learning Outcomes Assessment Form (LOAF, formerly Phase IV) to track student learning and attainment of course outcomes may do so for their own purposes. This form is not intended to replace current reporting documents.

How should I assess my program?

Program assessment is based on the assessment plan and schedule developed in collaboration between the director of teaching and learning innovation and program directors. Data collected at the program level emphasizes how programs use assessment data to make decisions, where and how program outcomes are assessed, the results of those assessments (including strengths and areas of concern demonstrated in student work), actions taken to improve student learning, and the results of those actions, and recommendations to improve assessment.

Programs with external accreditation should continue to meet the requirements of those organizations. Each externally accredited program has its own modified reporting form that includes the minimum criteria listed above.

The assessment process for General Education relies heavily on faculty course reflections. As faculty complete their course reflections based on the Gen Ed Core reporting schedule, the director of teaching and learning innovation will aggregate those reflections into a program assessment report.

How should my program/department create a plan for assessing our program outcomes?

Ensuring logical curricular alignment between program outcomes and courses is critical. Updating and maintaining program curriculum maps should be done annually, or any time there are changes to the curriculum.

As part of the assessment plan, programs should develop a rotation schedule that works logically for the number of program outcomes, and any external requirements, that apply to their area. The rotation should be 5 years or less.

General Education departments should follow the Gen Ed Core reporting schedule.

How do I complete the outcomes chart on the syllabus template?

The syllabus template has an outcomes chart that must demonstrate alignment between course outcomes, assessment tools/assignments, program outcomes, and relevant College Learning Outcomes. The information on your syllabus alignment chart should match your area's curriculum map. The image below gives a brief overview. If you need help completing your syllabus chart, please contact your program director/department chair or Mandy Wright.

image of syllabus chart

Updated 1/28/22

Contact Information:

Mandy Wright
Director of Teaching & Learning Innovation
406-268-3713
mandy.wright@gfcmsu.edu