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Graduate Program Learning Goals Assessment

Assessment at the graduate level is an important aspect of Ohio State's accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission. By defining learning goals and gathering data about their accomplishment, informed decisions can be made about how to improve graduate student learning.

Learning goals assessment allows faculty to answer two questions. First, what do we want students to know and do by the end of their graduate program at Ohio State? Second, how will we know if they achieve these goals? This kind of assessment is essentially an extension of what faculty do every day with individual students applied to an entire degree program.

Assessment Process

  1. Identify Goals

    Learning goals/outcomes refer to what graduate programs want students to achieve. Goals can be attained through classroom and other learning activities.

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  2. Identify Assessment Methods

    Both direct and indirect measures of student learning should be identified for each goal/outcome. Direct measures are those that assess a student’s performance on activities related to the goal. Indirect measures are those which ask students to reflect on their learning.

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  3. Collect Data

    Programs can design rubrics to assess student learning at events that occur on an annual basis or at milestone graduate student events, such as the Thesis Defense, Candidacy Exam or Final Oral Exam. In addition to rubrics, programs can identify key assignments or exam questions from core classes and systematically collect data from all students in the program.

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  4. Analyze, Interpret, and Share Data

    After data are collected from a sufficient number of graduate students, programs should enter data into TracDat, analyze it, and summarize the results. Given that assessment is a continuous process, programs should schedule an annual meeting with program faculty, staff and students to review and discuss the results.

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  5. Modify and Improve

    If the assessment data suggest areas for improvement, faculty should discuss ways in which student learning can be improved. Focus could be on core classes, research seminars, and other learning opportunities in the program.

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Assessment Myths

A lot is said about assessment that isn't true. Find the facts behind the myths of assessment.


To discuss graduate program assessment at Ohio State, please contact one of the Graduate School's faculty fellows.