Student Learning Assessment

The Rensselaer Student Learning Assessment Plan (2013) details the overall goals and infrastructure supporting assessment. Please review the plan and this website when designing your courses and in program planning.


Why assessment?

Consider which of the following three fundamental questions take in the learning outcomes that assessments used in the course respond to and measure.
  • What will students know?
  • What will students be able to do?
  • What will students value?

These questions correlate with the three familiar domains of learning—cognitive, affective and psychomotor—developed through the work of Bloom (1956), Krathwohl (1961), Doll (1996), Gagne (1985; 1992), Shulman (2002) and others.

What will students know?

These outcomes are all cognitive, and include factual knowledge that will be remembered, understood, and applied in problem solving and in responding to content-related questions.

What will students be able to do?   

These outcomes can be both cognitive (problem-solving, analysis, evaluation, creative thinking, etc.) and psychomotor (physical). Although many physical skills develop exclusively in the realm of co-curricular activities (e.g., athletics and recreation), the psychomotor domain includes important academic outcomes in the performing arts (theater, dance, music), the fine arts (painting, drawing, sculpture), laboratory skills (dissection, etc.), fieldwork (natural sciences), construction of models in engineering, design and implementation of knowledge, speaking a foreign language, and certain computer skills.

What will students value?

These outcomes are affective, dealing with emotions, attitudes and values.
Experience with the highest-order cognitive skills (reflecting on experiences; exercising critical judgment in real-world situations with competing goals and incomplete information; designing something within multiple constraints—economic, usability, safety, etc.) reinforces the internalization of values in the affective realm.