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National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

Down and In: Assessment Practices at the Program Level

June 2011

Assessing the quality of undergraduate student learning continues to be a priority in U.S. postsecondary education.  Although variations in outcome assessment practices have long been suspected, they have not been systematically documented. To follow up the 2009 National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) report on institutional assessment activity described by chief academic officers, NILOA surveyed program heads in the two- and four-year sectors to gain a more complete picture of assessment activity at the program- or department-level.  This report details the findings for that survey.

Interested in program-level assessment resources? Click here.

     Full report

Please cite as: Ewell, P, Paulson, K, & Kinzie, J. (2011). Down and in: Assessment practices at the program level. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).

This NILOA work has been featured in several media venues:

AAC&U News, Down and In: Assessment Practices at the Program Level, in the August 2011 issue.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, Assessments of Student Learning Vary Widely by Field in June 15, 2011 issue. Be sure to see the interactive table.

Inside Higher Ed, How Program Heads View Assessment in June 15th, 2011 issue.


"The future effectiveness of institutional accreditation in both promoting good practice and in reinforcing the academy’s assumption of consistent and transparent standards of student academic achievement lies entirely in the hands of the academy and its leadership."

Peter Ewell

Peter Ewell
NILOA Senior Scholar
Vice President of the NCHEMS