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Surveys of Student Learning Goals

Name: Denise Rousseau
Scope: Course – 45961-Evidence Based Management, Tepper School of Business
Assessment Tool: Surveys of Student Learning Goals


What factors/data/circumstances initiated the action?

I wanted to motivate students to become more active processors of the course material, so I asked them to formulate their own learning goals. By having their personal goals in mind at the outset and reminders of these later, I believe the course becomes more personally relevant. Thus, they should devote more careful attention to course principles and ideas.


What did you hope to learn from the assessment?

The goal of the surveys was two-fold. The initial survey helped me to develop an understanding of the skills and capabilities that students hoped to learn from the course. Subsequent surveys enabled me to evaluate how well the course was meeting their learning goals and whether students reported any increase in their own level of domain expertise.


How was the data collected?

Students completed an initial questionnaire that gave them the opportunity to (1) reflect on and formulate their own learning goals, (2) rate their own level of domain expertise along a continuum ranging from “novice” to “expert,” and (3) share any additional thoughts/hopes/recommendations for the course.  Subsequent questionnaires asked students to (1) rate how well the course had met their learning goals on a three-point scale ranging from “not at all” to “substantially,” (2) rate their own level of domain expertise along a continuum ranging from “novice” to “expert,” and (3) share any additional thoughts/hopes/recommendations for the course.


How was the assessment activity carried out?

Students completed the initial questionnaire during the first class meeting and subsequent questionnaires during class meetings at the mid-point and end of the course.


How are the data being used?

An understanding of students’ learning goals helped me to better motivate student learning by explicitly connecting course materials and activities to students’ learning goals. When students omitted important learning goals (such as improving their own personal performance as managers), I made a case for the relevance of these goals and the activities that supported their acquisition.  Collecting student learning goals also enabled me to evaluate the effectiveness of the course in helping students meet specific goals.  When I develop subsequent versions of the course, I plan to use this information along with student’s feedback on the utility of specific course activities in refining the course learning objectives, instructional activities, and assessments.


Prior to assessing learning goals in a course, I believe it is helpful to discuss the distinction between performance goals (emphasizing specific achievements, like getting an A) from learning goals (emphasizing skill or knowledge acquisition, like improving my ability to find useful evidence).

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