San Diego Mesa College

Definition of Outcomes Assessment


What is Outcomes Assessment

Outcomes Assessment (OA) is the process of collecting information that will tell the College whether the services, activities, or experiences it offers are having the desired impact on those who partake in them. In other words, is the College making a difference in the lives of the individuals it serves?

Outcomes Assessment has three stages

  1. Define the most important goals for students to achieve as a result of participating in an academic experience (outcomes)
  2. Evaluate how well students are actually achieving those goals (assessment)
  3. Use the results to improve the academic experience (closing the loop)

Continuous assessment will enable us to:

  • Devote time to activities that we value most
  • Decide how best to improve instruction, strengthen curricula, and create effective academic policies
  • Strengthen our ability to show that our graduates are well-prepared for transfer or to succeed in their chosen professions
  • Develop policies to allocate funding and/or resources more effectively
  • Provide the faculty and staff with feedback they need to strengthen and grow their programs
  • Increase the effectiveness of our communications about the value of a Mesa College education to the community and other stakeholders
  • Have recent data on hand that will satisfy the requirements of accrediting and funding agencies, without having to engage in a mad scramble to meet deadlines

Outcomes Assessment at Mesa

All of us at Mesa (faculty, staff, management) have our students’ success as our top priority. This principle runs through the classes we teach, the services we provide, and the policies and procedures we adopt as a College. It is our duty to create effective learning opportunities and environments for our students. It is also our duty to question how effectively our programs and services are facilitating the learning and development of our students.

This is what assessment is all about. We assess informally as an integral part of what we do. We learn from experience, from anecdotal information, from conversations we have with students and with each other, and we make changes that we think are needed. A formal assessment process is more intentional, documenting these conversations and making decisions based on empirical data (evidence) rather than intuition (but not completely replacing…). Data-informed dialogue among members of a program or service area then sows the seeds of improvement, which are incorporated into program review and requests for resources. This shows our commitment to our students and to institutional effectiveness.

This is important work. Each program and service area needs to take ownership of it. Good assessment can be meaningful, manageable, and sustainable, but it doesn’t happen effortlessly. This Guide is our roadmap to finding a balance between this vital process and our workload realities, by organizing and streamlining the process and offering support, suggestions, and best practices.

Last Updated: May 23, 2017
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