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CTE - Assessment Workbook

This guide provides information, resources, and templates for assessing student learning outcomes at Central Penn College.


Direct measures of student learning should evaluate what students know at the time the assessment has been conducted.  In the course of assessment, at least one direct measure of student learning should be conducted to objectively evaluate student learning outcomes. 


Examples of direct measures of student learning:  

  • Course embedded assessments
  • Portfolios of student work
  • Capstone, theses, research projects, defenses scored with a rubric
  • Student work (performances, presentations, projects) scored with a rubric
  • Discussion board or electronic class discussions scored with a rubric
  • Recorded class responses such as clickers, polls, surveys to questions posed by the faculty member
  • Feedback from computer simulations or demonstrates that gauge
  • Scores and/or pass rates on licensure or certification exams

Using Rubrics

One of the most common tools for measuring student learning outcomes directly are rubricsRubrics or scoring tools that specifies the areas and the quality required for a student artifact help faculty to easily quantify the quality of student work. If creating a rubric, it is important to remind faculty that they are not grading the student artifact, but rather, assessing it. 


As such, the faculty members should create a rubric that looks at the student learning outcome and program learning outcome holistically:

  • If assessing critical thinking skills, the rubric should be assessing areas such as logic, analysis, conclusions, biases, and evidence rather than grammar and punctuation.

  • If assessing information literacy, the rubric should be assessing the incorporation of secondary sources and appropriateness of the sources rather than use of technology or typing abilities.


As a faculty member, you are likely most accustomed to using a grading rubric, so it is important to underscore the difference:

  • grading rubric evaluates all aspects of an artifact with the goal of assigning a mastery value (grade). 

  • An assessment rubric evaluates a specific aspect of an artifact with the goal of assigning a proficiency value (number).


Here are the major differences at a glance:


Once you have decided that a rubric is the best assessment tool for your course-embedded assessment, you should carefully plan how to use this instrument:

  1. Review the institutional assessment calendar to determine the outcome being assessed (critical thinking, communication, etc.).
  2. Review the program and curriculum map to determine which program learning outcome you are assessing.
  3. Review the course-embedded assessment prompt and rubric


An assessment rubric will provide:

  • A clear definition of the outcome being assessed
  • Instructions for assessors
    • Brief explanation of the outcome
    • Definitions for performance levels
    • Applicable and non-applicable elements of an artifact
    • Instructions for recording scores on rubric or separate score sheet
  • Glossary of terms used in the rubric
  • Differentiated performance levels (4, 3, 2, 1, 0)
  • Specific “dimensions” of the outcome being assessed
  • Descriptions of each dimension at the various performance levels
  • An area on the rubric for dimension scores (and overall) if not using a separate score sheet


If using a rubric, the faculty should use a sample student artifact to norm the rubric or to align individual scoring techniques with that of the group to ensure consistency. 


To norm a rubric, faculty members should:

  1. Review the importance of norming
  2. Review the original prompt and rubric given in the course
  3. Review the holistic rubric created for assessment
  4. Score a sample student artifact
  5. Compare scores and discuss variations
  6. Score a new sample student artifact
  7. Continue discussing and scoring samples if  great variations remain


The College provides several resources on rubrics through the Library: Library Resources on Rubrics


The AAC&U Value Rubrics provide peer-reviewed rubrics on a variety of topics:

CPC ILO: Communication

AAC&U Rubric: Written Communication

AAC&U Rubric: Oral Communication          

​CPC ILO: Critical Thinking

AAC&U Rubric: Inquiry and Analysis          

AAC&U Rubric: Critical Thinking      

AAC&U Rubric: Creative Thinking   

AAC&U Rubric: Problem solving      

​CPC ILO: Information Literacy   

AAC&U Rubric: Information Literacy

​CPC ILO: Global Awareness

AAC&U Rubric: Global learning       

AAC&U Rubric: Civic Engagement (local, global) 

​CPC ILO: Personal Leadership

AAC&U Rubric: Teamwork     

AAC&U Rubric: Ethical Reasoning  

​CPC ILO: Academic and Career Competency

AAC&U Rubric: Reading        

AAC&U Rubric: Quantitative Literacy          

AAC&U Rubric: Integrative Learning           

AAC&U Rubric: Foundations and Skills for Lifelon learning