Glossary of Terms



Term Description
Assessment While “assessment” generally means “measurement,” the term is increasingly used in the higher education context to refer to a systematic cycle of collecting and reviewing information about student learning. The complete cycle involves: clearly stating expected goals for student learning, offering learning experiences, measuring the extent to which students have achieved expected goals, and using the evidence collected to improve teaching and learning.
Curriculum Map A matrix representation of a program’s learning outcomes that shows where they are taught within the program.
Direct Measures Processes used to directly evaluate student work. They provide tangible, self-explanatory, and compelling evidence of student learning. Examples include: exam questions, portfolios, performances, projects, reflective essays, computer programs, and observations.
Evaluation Generally refers to a product-oriented, comparative, or prescriptive process aimed at making an informed judgment about the extent to which a program is achieving its intended outcomes and/or the quality or worth of a program. While evaluation may include assessment of student learning, its broader scope may also take additional factors, such as faculty or program goals, into consideration.
Goals Broad statements of what you aim to achieve, inside or outside the classroom.
Grading Grading is a process of evaluating student performance. It can be a basis for assessment if it follows a rubric, which defines different levels of student achievement.
Indirect Measures Processes that provide evidence that students are probably attaining learning goals. These require inference between the student’s action and the direct evaluation of that action. Examples include: course grades, student ratings, satisfaction surveys, placement rates, retention and graduation rates, and honors and awards earned by students and alumni.
Learning Outcomes Related to learning goals, these are the specific results—measurable statements of the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and habits of mind that students acquire as a result of the learning experience.
Objectives These are the tasks to be accomplished in order to achieve the goal. These are the means to the end—the process that will lead to an outcome.
Outcomes The results of instruction, without regard to process.
Rubric A grading guide that explicitly states the criteria and standards for student work. The traits of student work are separately named, and each trait is evaluated from high to low.
Standards Clear definitions of expectations, or targets for student performance against which we gauge success in achieving an outcome. Often based upon a rating scale or grading rubric, standards differentiate outstanding, adequate, and poor performance.