Transparency Framework

The NILOA transparency framework is comprised of six sections.

  1. Student learning outcomes statements
  2. Assessment plans
  3. Assessment resources
  4. Current assessment activities
  5. Evidence of student learning
  6. Use of student learning evidence

Student Learning Outcomes Statements

GBSC maintains student learning outcome statements at multiple levels: institutional (for all graduates); programmatic (for all graduates in a specific degree program); and course (for all students who complete a course). Course-level outcomes are listed on each course syllabus. Institutional outcome statements and programmatic outcome statements are available in the Catalog.

Assessment Plans

GBSC maintains a list of assessment instruments/approaches currently in use. The list categorizes assessments at the institutional, division/program and course levels as either direct or indirect.

Direct measures require students to demonstrate the knowledge, skill or disposition that is being assessed. So a direct measure of math would include, say, addition problems.

Indirect measures focus on things related to the knowledge, skill or disposition being assessed. So an indirect measure of math might ask students to rate their own math ability on a 5-point scale, or to write a paragraph about what they have learned in math over the semester.

Assessment Resources

If you are unfamiliar with assessment, you may find this brief overview helpful.

Assessment of student learning means what it sounds like: are a college’s classes and degree programs effectively helping students learn and develop? This is an important question for students and parents, because it is another way of asking, “Is my investment in a college education meaningful? Am I benefiting from my college experience?” Of course, there are lots of individual benefits from college – things like new friendships, mentoring from faculty and staff, cultural experiences, perhaps even meeting a spouse – that don’t get included in assessment of student learning. But student learning still matters! GBSC is committed to transparency in our assessment of student learning. This is demonstrated by our use of the transparency framework developed by the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a leading organization in student-learning accountability. Visit our student learning page to explore GBSC’s student-learning assessment program and results.

Assessment of institutional effectiveness has to do with how well a college is functioning. Are offices effectively accomplishing their tasks? Are services being offered in appropriate, meaningful ways?

What is assessment?

Assessment uses tools to measure something in light of an established standard or goal.

Tools include tests, surveys, inventories, checklists, anecdotes and more: these make up the toolbox for measurement, which means quantifying something (it could be behavior, effectiveness, knowledge or many other things).

Standards and goals need to be established prior to measurement. This gives a sort of “yardstick” that can be used in evaluation.

The term assessment is also used broadly to include a cycle involving both assessment and evaluation.

What is evaluation?

Evaluation takes the results of assessment processes and decides how effectively an activity is being done. So in assessment of student learning, assessment results enable us to evaluate how well a class or degree program leads to learning in students.

Evaluation takes assessment results and uses them to make a qualitative judgment.

The assessment cycle or loop

In discussions of assessment, you may often hear talk about “closing the loop.” What loop is this?

The cycle starts with program implementation – teaching a class, offering a degree program, operating an office, etc.

After (or during) implementation, assessment takes place (remember, this means measuring something for which goals have already been established).

Once assessment results are available (and typically after implementation has concluded an iteration or phase), results are used to make an evaluation about how effective the implementation was. What was good? What could be improved?

Based on evaluation, revisions may be made to the program (course, office, etc.). Then, implementation occurs again – and this allows new assessment, which can show if there have been changes from the revisions. The revision and reimplementation steps are often called “closing the loop.”

Assessment Tools

This section focuses on providing resources to staff and faculty.

Unfortunately, most attention is paid to the academic side of assessment, so no links here are provided to resources related to assessing institutional effectiveness other than this one: the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network maintains useful resources, especially their very active email list. Questions in that area may be directed to the Director of IR.

“Authentic assessment” resources



Traditional assessment

Current Assessment Activities

Activities listed here are used regularly, with some rotation cycles. Typically seniors complete the same assessments they took as freshmen, enabling longitudinal analysis.

Evidence of Student Learning

Developing evidence of student learning is an ongoing activity at GBSC. See reports below:

Additional assessment information is available on our School Stats page.

Use of Student Learning Evidence

GBSC periodically collects examples of changes based on assessment results. Typically these results feed into course, program and institutional reviews of effectiveness. They may drive change at any of these levels (e.g., different textbooks or assignments, revisions of required courses, etc.).