A Technique to Map and Evaluate Fulfillment of Institutional Learning Outcomes

Outcomes assessment in higher education has grown beyond basic formative and summative evaluation. To ensure full participation and educational advantages to under-represented groups we must begin to assess and evaluate the entire academic institution and its contribution to social change. Toward that end, our University developed a set of institutional learning outcomes (ILO) that encompass both academic units and student service functions. These ILOs are organized within five broad categories that include: foundational skills, interactions with others, connecting ideas, professional competence, and healthy behaviors. The intent was to determine and analyze the extent to which the ILOs are taught and assessed throughout the University at all levels within all units. The project collected data from 49 programs/departments concerning the extent to which each of the ILOs is taught and assessed within the unit’s courses and activities. Collecting the data from the units was relatively straight-forward; however, we found that comparative analysis was problematic given the nature of the data and the varied functions of the units. To solve this, we developed a visual mapping technique to represent the data that allows easy analysis and quickly draws attention to areas where ILOs are not adequately addressed. Our paper describes the ILO mapping project and demonstrates the visual technique it incorporated. The technique is generalizable to any level of the academic organization and provides the information needed to fine-tune teaching and assessment activities. This, in turn, can improve the overall effectiveness of the educational institution.

Outcomes, Methodologies, Accountability, Assessment, Objective Alignment, Visualization

Assessment and Evaluation

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

  • Dr. Jay M. Lightfoot
    • Professor and Associate Dean, Accounting & Computer Information Systems, University of Northern Colorado, United States Colorado, United States
    • Jay M. Lightfoot is a Professor of Computer Information Systems in the Monfort College of Business. He graduated with a Ph.D. in Management Science/Information Systems from the University of Colorado in 1990. His current research interests include institution-level assessment, web-based education systems, assurance of learning curriculum design, and database systems for business applications. Dr. Lightfoot has been selected as the college scholar on two occasions and also received the University of Northern Colorado Academic Excellence Award for Teaching Excellence. He has been published in numerous scholarly journals including "IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management", the "Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia", the "Journal of Educational Technology Systems", and the "Journal of Informatics Education and Research".
  • Dr. Eugene Sheehan
    • Dean, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, University of Northern Colorado
    • Dr. Eugene Sheehan has served as Dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado since 2000. He received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Dublin, Trinity College, Ireland and a Master's degree in Occupational Psychology from the Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland. His Ph.D. in Social Psychology is from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Prior to entering the academy, Dr. Sheehan worked as a personnel psychologist, vocational evaluator, and consultant to several organizations. He has been a faculty member in the psychology program at the University of Northern Colorado since 1987, chairing that department from 1994 to 2000. He was named the University Distinguished Scholar in 1998 and received the Provost's Award for Excellence in Leadership in 2000. He has published papers in a broad variety of journals and his College has earned several prestigious awards for teacher preparation.