Curriculum development and student learning assessment are core elements of an academic program, integrating the disciplinary and pedagogical expertise of the faculty to create pathways for student learning and achievement. The work of curriculum design and student learning assessment is ideally suited to help departments, academic degree programs, general education programs, and other types of academic programs, develop goals for student learning; measurable outcomes for those goals; learning sequences to achieve those goals; and student-generated artifacts that can be evaluated to determine if the desired learning occurred.  Questions such as those listed below can be answered:

  • What do we expect that all students should know or be able to do when they graduate?
  • Do our learning outcomes reflect our goals for student learning in our program?
  • Is our curriculum aligned with our student learning outcomes?
  • Is our curriculum meeting the needs of our students?
  • Are students learning what we think they are learning? 
  • Is a course, or sequence, providing the learning opportunities needed for future courses in the program?
  • Is a course doing what we think it is doing in regard to program-level student learning?
  • How can we make learning assessment efforts lead to documented learning improvement?

When approached in a learner-centered perspective, curriculum development and student learning assessment help an academic program tell its story and share how students will grow, develop expertise, and be different because they studied in that program. This approach helps programs apply a scholarly, research-oriented mindset to their curriculum and assessment efforts, articulating the intent for student learning, checking to see if that learning is achieved, and then using expertise, creativity, and evidence-based practices to make changes to help students reach the goals set for them. The CAT believes that the work of curriculum development and student learning assessment can be powerful and transformational experiences for academic programs and the faculty within those programs. 

“Assessment can sometimes feel like a lot of busy-work, but your approach makes it feel purposeful and aspirational. Because of that, I am actually looking forward to working with you, [and colleagues] to develop these tools in [our program]–not just to provide data for the university, but to help us improve and feel better about what we are doing with and for our students.”

Wake Forest University Chair

“Our department is turning into something quite different than it was before. [We are] More cohesive and more focused on teaching. Your work is really transformational.”

Wake Forest University Chair

Phases of Curriculum Development and Student Learning Assessment