Office of Student Learning Assessment

Frequently Asked Questions (SLA)

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between goals and outcomes?

Goals are clear, meaningful statements of purpose or aspirations for the program. Programs typically have several goals.

Outcomes (also called objectives) are more detailed statements than goals written in terms capable of being measured. They include knowledge, skills, habits of mind, modes of inquiry, dispositions, attitudes or values and there are typically several outcomes associated with each goal.

Example, Art Program
  • Goal: 
    Students will develop the knowledge, tools and experience necessary to work in art-related fields and/or apply these in multiple other professions.
  • Outcomes: 
    Students will:
    • Develop job-seeking skills (resume, interviewing, networking, etc.).
    • Develop an artist’s statement.
    • Prepare professional photo documentation or portfolio.

What are checklists and scoring rubrics?

A Scoring Check List is a detailed list of the components of required in a paper, assignment project, performance etc.

A Scoring Rubric is a matrix that explicitly states the criteria and standards for student work.

See previous FAQ

Are grades a form of assessment?

It depends!

Evaluation of students' learning should be

  • Based on explicit criteria
  • Systematic (e.g., scoring checklists & rubrics – see previous FAQ)
  • Public – shared with colleagues and preferably with students

Unless grades are based on explicit, systematic and public criteria they are not adequate evidence of assessment of student learning.

What are Direct and Indirect measures?

Direct measures provide evidence of actual learning, e.g. paper, exam, artistic performance.

Indirect measures provide evidence about characteristics associated with learning, e.g., student perception surveys, focus group interviews, alumni surveys.

See previous FAQ

When are CSU reports due?

Assessment reports are due at the end of May of each year. 

Who reviews the reports?

A team of faculty and staff with expertise and training in assessment of student learning. 

How is program review related to assessment?

Are faculty being evaluated?


The purpose of assessment is to improve student leaning and development. This is done by collecting direct evidence of students' work (e.g., paper, projects, presentations, examinations, etc) and indirect evidence (e.g. student and alumni surveys or interviews about what they learned in the program) and using this information to help improve programs and services.

Faculty evaluation is not part of the process. At CSU, The Office of Assessment is not involved with any part of the faculty evaluation process (e.g. student or peer evaluations of teaching).