Program Assessment at WSU

Overseen by the Office of the Provost, WSU has a highly flexible system for program-level assessment of student learning. At WSU, faculty drive program-level assessment of student learning and have a central role in identifying student learning outcomes (SLOs) and questions about student learning, conducting assessment, interpreting results, and making decisions to improve academic programs.

The Office of Assessment for Curricular Effectiveness (ACE) provides support for undergraduate academic programs and faculty, while the Graduate School supports assessment in graduate programs. See Graduate Program Review and Assessment for more information about assessment in graduate programs.

Undergraduate Program Assessment at WSU

Degree Program Assessment

As outlined in the WSU Catalog, the undergraduate major or degree program is the in-depth field of study leading to a bachelor’s degree and includes a set of core courses that have been approved by the academic unit offering the major, as well as by the college and the Faculty Senate. In general, through the achievement of program-level SLOs, students demonstrate specialized knowledge and skills in the discipline, as well as disciplinary achievement of some WSU Undergraduate Learning Goals (as appropriate to the disciplinary focus), through depth of study within the chosen academic field. ACE’s primary focus is in supporting undergraduate degree programs on assessment of student learning, see Our Services for more details.

Departments/schools and faculty have the responsibility to develop, implement, and use meaningful SLO assessment in degree programs, to meet the evolving needs of students and disciplines. Chairs/Directors oversee the design, implementation, and use of SLO assessment for their unit’s degrees, often delegating some degree program assessment responsibilities to a faculty assessment coordinator, to support high quality academic programs and student learning achievement. For more about assessment roles and responsibilities related to undergraduate degree program assessment, see ACE’s Quick Guide to Suggested Roles and Responsibilities (PDF) and Section 11 of WSU’s Educational Policies and Procedures Manual (PDF).

Key Elements of Program Assessment. All undergraduate degree programs are required to have program-level SLOs, a curriculum map, an assessment plan, and assessment measures (direct and indirect), and to use assessment to inform-decision making; these Key Elements of Program Assessment form the framework for useful, sustainable assessment at WSU.

Annual Program Assessment Reporting. All undergraduate degree programs are required to report annually on their program-level assessment, submitting a report to ACE. See Annual Program Assessment Reporting for more information.

General Education Assessment

WSU’s general education program, known as UCORE, helps students acquire broad knowledge of the wider world that complements their specific areas of study. UCORE Assessment is intended to help WSU faculty, departments, and university leadership determine to what extent undergraduates are achieving the learning outcomes of the UCORE general education program, as well as provide evidence of UCORE’s contribution towards advancing the WSU Undergraduate Learning Goals. ACE supports UCORE assessment by managing specific assessment-related initiatives, data analysis, and reporting. See the UCORE Assessment website for more information.

Visualization of Undergraduate Education: Supporting Student Achievement of WSU Undergraduate Learning Goals

Thumbnail of a visual illustrating the relationship between general education requirements, major requirements, writing proficiency requirements, and co-curricular learning experiences in achieving the WSU Undergraduate Learning Goals.
Visualization of Undergraduate Education: Supporting Student Achievement of WSU Undergraduate Learning Goals

WSU-wide Policies Supporting Program Assessment

Section 11 of WSU’s Educational Policies and Procedures Manual (PDF) governs the system for regular and ongoing assessment of student learning in WSU undergraduate, professional, and graduate degree programs, and outlines roles and responsibilities for program assessment, and requirements for reporting.

Updated in 2020, WSU’s Educational Policies and Procedures Manual explicitly recognizes the value of assessment that identifies areas of weakness for improvement and protects departments and faculty conducting such assessment.

Section III.C.4. of WSU’s Faculty Manual (PDF) describes criteria for review of faculty and includes recognition of certain program assessment activities in teaching, while other assessment activities are recognized as service.


  • Chair/Director: Chairs/Directors are responsible for providing leadership and oversight for assessment of each undergraduate degree program. Among other responsibilities, the chair/director is responsible for the development and resourcing of a sustainable assessment plan; involving faculty and a committee structure appropriate to their department/school; using results in decision-making; and communicating with other campuses (where applicable). The chair/director also ensures infrastructure so assessment data and documents are regularly archived, with appropriate data stewardship and access to appropriate faculty members on all campuses. The chair/director is also responsible for ensuring that an annual program assessment report is submitted to ACE (and reviewing and approving the report prior to submission).
  • Faculty Assessment Coordinator: Each program should have a faculty assessment coordinator (typically appointed by the chair/director) who implements the program’s assessment plan, coordinates assessment efforts with broad faculty participation, and prepares the annual program assessment report for chair/director approval.
  • Faculty: Faculty who teach participate in assessment activities, which may include collecting or scoring student work for program learning outcomes achievement, norming on a rubric, interpreting assessment results, and participating in committee or faculty meetings about program assessment.
  • Dean/Associate Dean: Deans/Associate deans provide overall leadership and oversight of program assessment in the college.
  • Office of Assessment for Curricular Effectiveness (ACE): ACE supports undergraduate degree programs on assessment of student learning, see Our Services for more details.

For more about assessment roles and responsibilities related to undergraduate degree program assessment, see ACE’s Quick Guide to Suggested Roles and Responsibilities (PDF) and Section 11 of WSU’s Educational Policies and Procedures Manual (PDF).

New chairs/directors and faculty assessment coordinators should contact ACE. Copies of the program’s recent assessment plans and annual program assessment reports should also be helpful sources of information, and should be available in the program’s assessment archive.

Each degree program and/or college is responsible for maintaining an assessment archive for their annual program assessment reports, assessment plans, and other assessment materials (e.g. rubrics, measures/tools, data, results, findings). Programs are responsible for acting as data stewards for their assessment data, results, and documents. ACE keeps copies of annual program assessment reports for undergraduate degree programs but generally does not store other assessment documents or program assessment results.

ACE maintains an Undergraduate Program Assessment Report SharePoint Archive (log-in required) of annual program assessment reports submitted by undergraduate degree programs, along with annual WSU-wide and college summaries of degree program assessment, dating back to 2010 for NWCCU accreditation and WSU college and university leadership.

ACE supports undergraduate degree programs on assessment of student learning. See Our Services for more details. ACE also offers assessment mini-grants on a rolling basis to help support undergraduate academic programs working to improve assessment of student learning. Additionally, most colleges have assessment committees that provide support for program and college-level assessment efforts.

The ACE website contains resources and toolkits, including quick guides, templates, and samples, on a variety of topics (such as student learning outcomescurriculum mapsassignment designassessment plansassessment measures and datause of assessment, and assessment archives.

Our website also provides information and stories about strong assessment work done by WSU undergraduate programs. Our Celebration of Assessment Excellence webpage provides information about programs and assessment practices recognized in past years. We also publish WSU Assessment Spotlights that describe some of the many ways that program assessment is being used to advance and improve the undergraduate academic experience at WSU.

ACE staff are also available to discuss a program’s assessment goals and help find resources and samples specific to each program’s needs.

Usually, no. Program assessment, like classroom assessment, is excluded from Institutional Review Board (IRB) review because it does not meet the definition of research. The Code of Federal Regulations found at 45 CFR 46.102(d) defines research in part as, “a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.” Assessment for use by faculty and programs for the purpose of improvement does not meet this definition.

Provided all personally identifiable information is removed and the results are used for internal university purposes, programs that collect student work for the purpose of program assessment do not need student consent. Note, however, if a person or program plans to disseminate or publish results beyond program improvement or accreditation purposes, then IRB review may be required. Please contact WSU’s IRB with questions.