Assessment Glossary

Academic Assessment basic vocabulary and definitions.

Academic Assessment: "Assessment is the systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development." (Palomba & Banta, 1999)

It is an ongoing process that investigates and enhances student learning outcomes based on the goals of the program, resulting in enhancement of student learning, increase in productivity of programs and the college.

Alignment: A process of connecting elements of a program or course for the purpose of improving learning. The process begins from mission and goals translated to student learning outcomes, pedagogy and curriculum and assessment itself

Assessment Measures: What measures/tools will be used to assess a program, course, activity, etc. There are two types of measures direct and indirect:

  1. Direct measure: use of actual student work
  2. Indirect measure: use of thoughts, feelings and opinions on student learning 

Bloom's Taxonomy of Cognitive Objectives: A structure for classifying educational objectives. Bloom’s taxonomy was proposed by an educational psychologist Bloom and his colleagues in 1956 in which three domains of learning were identified. The domains included cognitive (mental), affective (emotional/feelings/attitude) and psychomotor (physical ability). The cognitive domain is most widely used in developing educational goals and objectives for student learning. Cognitive objective taxonomy is hierarchical in which first level must be accomplished before reaching the next one, hence less to more complicated. This system has been further revised by Anderson and Krathwohl’s (2001) to focus on outcome perspective with the following categories:    

  1. Remember
  2. Understand
  3. Apply
  4. Analyze
  5. Evaluate
  6. Create

Curriculum Mapping:  A table that demonstrates the relationship between the program learning goals/outcome and courses/educational opportunities of a program. It is a grid that portrays alignment between the student learning goals/outcomes and the curriculum, i.e. showing what is being learned and where it’s being learned.

Expected Level of Achievement: Also referred as criteria for success, target performance, etc. is the rate for an accepted level of performance or success as defined by the program faculty for the given program level student learning outcome (PSLO). The expected level is often expressed as a percentage in relation to the criterion for evaluating the PSLO, i.e. rubric. For example: before assessing a particular PSLO, faculty may define success for that PSLO as 75% of students sampled will earn  three (satisfactory) on a four point analytic rubric scale where four is considered highly satisfactory. 

Formative Assessment: Assessment that takes place during the learning period for the purpose of improving teaching and learning resulting in modifying future assignments, i.e. halfway through a course or program.

Mission: A broad statement which defines the sole purpose of the program.   It’s a descriptive statement that says what the program is, what it does, and who it serves.

Program Assessment: An ongoing process that involves collecting, analyzing and using information regarding student learning occurrence based on the established goals of a program.  It measures program outcomes in order to improve student learning.

Rubric: a scoring tool that defines the expectations of an assignment at defined performance levels. The two common rubrics are holistic and analytic. In terms of assessment, rubrics serve as a quality indicator of student work with embedded knowledge, skills and abilities at different performance levels.  Holistic Rubrics assign a single score to student work or define performance at an overall level performance level in which the criteria for assessment is viewed as a whole. Analytic rubrics assign a score or designate student performance based on individual criteria, dimensions or components of an assignment with descriptors that define each criteria along with performance levels.

Student Learning Outcome: statements that describe the skills or knowledge learned by the students in a course, program, activity, etc. which is observable and measurable.

Summative Assessment: Assessment performed at the end of a course or program with the purpose of measuring actual learning against a benchmark, expected level of achievement or standard. 


Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (Eds.). (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of educational objectives: Complete edition, New York : Longman.

Banta, Trudy W., and Catherine A. Palomba. Assessment Essentials, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central, 

“Direct and Indirect Measure”, Southern Methodist University, Office of Assessment and Accreditation, accessed August 2016, <>

Driscoll, A., & Wood, S. (2007). Developing outcomes-based assessment for learner-centered education: A faculty introduction. Sterling, Va: Stylus.

“Glossary of Assessment Terms”, George Mason University, Office of Institutional Assessment, accessed September 2016 <>

Kuh, George D., et al. Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Suskie, Linda. Assessing Student Learning, a common sense guide. © 2004 by Anker Publishing now part of Jossey-Bass.

"UCF Academic Program Assessment Handbook”, University of Central Florida, ©2005, edition 2008, accessed September 2016 < >