Using a Course Debrief Approach to Assess Student Performance for Program-level Assessment (History)

An effective system of assessing student learning includes measures near the end of the curriculum, providing information about what students are able to achieve at the end of the program. For many undergraduate programs, these measures include the evaluation of student performance in 400-level courses, based on coursework that demonstrates specific program-level student learning outcomes.

WSU’s History Department has adopted a course debrief process to evaluate student achievement of program learning outcomes in selected 400-level courses, including History 469, the culminating course for all History majors on all campuses. With the course debrief approach, participating faculty fill out an assessment form, using their expertise to evaluate student performance in their own course on program learning outcomes, and then collaboratively discuss their responses.

The course debrief session takes place during a two-hour session in Zoom, conducted soon after course grades are due, that includes an orientation, faculty work time to complete the assessment form, and time for discussion. The structured process and form collect a mix of quantitative data (evaluation of the level of student SLO achievement on a rating scale) and qualitative data (comments about strengths and weaknesses in student performance).

Partial view of the History Department course debrief tool for program assessment.
History Department Course Debrief Tool Example (Partial View)

For the History Department, the course debrief approach is proving to be a useful and sustainable measure for program assessment. This two-hour activity generates data on program learning outcomes, while also engaging participating faculty in discussions about student learning and the design of courses to promote key skills identified for majors. Additionally, for multi-campus programs, the Zoom format provides the opportunity for faculty from all campuses to discuss their courses with a focus on student learning. 

For more information on evaluating student coursework for program assessment, see ACE’s Quick Guide: Approaches to Evaluating Student Coursework for Undergraduate Program Assessment (PDF). For more information on the course debrief approach, specifically, contact ACE.