"Assessment is an ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving student learning. It involves making our expectations explicit and public; setting appropriate and high standards for learning quality; systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well performance matches those expectations and standards; and using the resulting information to document, explain, and improve performance."

Angelo, T.A. (1995). Reassessing and defining assessment. AAHE Bulletin, 48(3): 149.

Designing an Assessment Plan

Key elements of an assessment plan include:


Key Definitions & Frameworks


The curriculum is an “academic plan,” which should include: the purpose of the curriculum (i.e., goals for student learning), content, sequence (the order of the learning experience), instructional methods, instructional resources, evaluation approaches, and how adjustments to the plan will be made based on experience or assessment data.
(Lattuca, L. & Stark, J. (2009) Shaping the college curriculum: Academic plans in context. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.)
  • The intended curriculum is the documented, official plan -- or what faculty hope students will learn.
  • The achieved curriculum includes knowledge, skills and attitudes that are truly learned and remembered.
    (Cuban, L. (1992). Curriculum stability and change. In Jackson, Philip (Ed.) Handbook of Research on Curriculum. American Educational Research Association)

Assessment can be helpful in better understanding alignment between an intended and achieved curriculum.


Evaluation of teaching can have many purposes, including collecting feedback for teaching improvement, developing a portfolio for job applications, or gathering data as part of personnel decisions, such as reappointment or promotion and tenure. Most of the methods described below can be used for all of these functions. In general, efforts to collect information for improvement can be informal and focus on specific areas an individual instructor wishes to develop. Information for job applications involves presenting one’s best work and meeting the requirements outlined in job ads. However, when the purpose of evaluation is personnel decision making, it is important to use a comprehensive and systematic process. Because there are many dimensions to pedagogical work, it is best to use multiple measures involving multiple sources of data to evaluate the range of instructional activities, which can include the following: Read more »


You may also wish to browse resources related to student evaluations of teaching.

Consultation services are available to faculty, post-docs and graduate students affiliated with the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor campus.


Provost Martha Pollack's Statement on Assessment

In the past several years, there has been a great deal of national discussion about the assessment of student learning in higher education. Students, their parents, public officials, and others have posed questions about the value of higher education, focusing particularly on the value added at the individual level. It is important to consider the contributions higher education makes to society as well. The University of Michigan is committed to continually improving the learning environment for our students and faculty. The University also participates in national efforts to develop effective tools for assessing student learning.

This University of Michigan website on the assessment of student learning provides information about assessment and evaluation activities ranging from macro-level data about student experiences to departmental materials used in select, individual courses. I hope you will find the resources available here to be useful.