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Assessment Gallery

Northwestern University’s Assessment Gallery showcases the excellent and iterative work programs conduct to advance systematized assessment of student learning.  

The Assessment Gallery is a rich resource for inspiration and examples about the diverse, meaningful ways programs across Northwestern are engaging in effective processes and good practices to improve student learning.

Each year, we invite programs (majors, minors, certificate, graduate, and co-curricular) to share through the Assessment Gallery

  • an update about where they are in the assessment process,
  • what artifacts they've revised or developed to facilitate their assessment work,
  • what they have learned about their students' achievement of program learning outcomes, and
  • how they are making curricular changes based on what they've learned. 

If your program is interested in contributing to the Assessment Gallery, please refer to the detailed instructions below about how to prepare for your submission. If you have any questions, contact Lina Eskew, Assistant Director of Equitable Assessment. 

Assessment Gallery Submission Instructions

Submission Overview

Before completing the form, gather all of the materials you will need. The form will ask for

  1. Your Name
  2. Program Information (Name, School/College/Office, Level)
  3. The Assessment Cycle Stage the Program Has Achieved*
  4. The Focus of the Program's Assessment Work (Effective Processes, Good Practices, or Improving Student Learning)*
  5. The Type(s) of Evidence Submitted to Demonstrate the Program's Assessment Work*
  6. An Assessment Narrative (500 words max) plus Title for Narrative*
  7. Permission to Share Submission on the Assessment Gallery Website
  8. Ways the Searle Center Can Support Your Program
  9. Additional Comments, Notes, and Questions

*The sections below provide further explanation and guidance about selecting the assessment cycle stage, the focus, the types of evidence, and the assessment narrative. 

Assessment Cycle Stages

the assessment cycle


Select the highest stage your program has progressed to, even if the project you are submitting focuses on iterating on an earlier stage.




Stage 1: (Re)Define Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) describe the knowledge, skills, and attitudes all students to achieve by the time they complete your program. For guidance on writing and revising PLOs, see our "Developing Learning Outcomes" resource. 

Stage 2: (Re)Design PLO Assessment Methods

Assessment methods are the tools your program uses to validate and collect direct evidence of students' progress towards achieving each of the PLOs, such as rubrics and tests/quizzes. Programs at Stage 2 should have developed specific assessment methods that help distinguish students' learning and their degree of achievement for each PLO.

Stage 3: Map PLOs to Courses and Activities

For Stage 3, programs develop maps that align each PLO to the individual courses or experiences within the program. In addition, maps show what specific activities (e.g., assignments, projects, tests) within each course or experience align to the PLOs.  

Stage 4: Gather and Analyze Evidence

Programs at Stage 4 have a systematized process for gathering and analyzing evidence collected from the assessment methods. The systemized process may include features such as annual timeline, a data collection tool (e.g., Canvas or a Google Form), and a designated person for creating data visualizations or reports based on the data collected. 

Stage 5: Identify and Implement Changes

Programs at Stage 5 regularly review the data collected and analyzed and then close the feedback loop by identifying potential changes to the curriculum that will improve achievement of the PLOs for all students. Once those changes are agreed upon, the program creates an implementation plan. 

Focus of Assessment Work

This question asks you to characterize the focus of your program's work on assessment of student learning in terms of the following three categories:

  1. Developing effective processes for assessing student learning
  2. Creating assessment processes and methodologies that reflect "good practice"
  3. Improving student learning based on information gained from assessment processes

You can select one or more of these areas of focus. The third focus area aligns to Stage 5 of the Assessment Process Cycle in that it's about documenting the changes you have made and the results of those changes.

Distinguishing between the first and second focus areas ("effective processes" vs "good practice") are a little more nuanced. "Effective processes" are targeted, systematic, data-driven, and action-oriented. It's about creating processes that work and that are aligned to each of the goals of the assessment cycle.

"Good practice" is about aligning those "effective processes" with the program's, college/school/office's, and university's values. Just because something "works" does not necessarily means that it is the best practice for a program. "Good practice" is about creating meaningful, authentic, participatory, and equitable assessment processes that embrace a continuous-improvement mindset. 

Types of Evidence

Submit evidence based on the area(s) of focus you selected and the stage(s) of the assessment cycle your program worked on. For each evidence type selected, you will be prompted to either upload a document (.pdf, .docx, .jpeg,  or .png files only) or provide a url. 

The evidence should be directly related to assessment of student learning. Your program likely has other methods and data used for informing curricular change, such as grade analysis and CTECs. However, those data points do not disaggregate student learning based on the specific PLOs nor address the curricular changes made based on student progress towards the PLOs and, therefore, do not need to be included in your submission. 

Here are the types of evidence that most commonly reflect program-level work with assessment of student learning:

  • Assessment Reports: A synthesized compilation of PLO data that may included comparisons over time or action steps for the future. 
  • Assessment Plan or Process: Documentation of the program's assessment process. This may be a legacy document that a future chair, director, or committee member could use to keep the process going. 
  • Curriculum Maps: Spreadsheets or pictures of whiteboards and stickies that show how each course aligns to one or more of the PLOs along with the complementary course activities. 
  • Documents Using Direct Measures of Assessment: Where and how are the data collected being used and shared? Newsletters, new course proposals, grant applications? 
  • Faculty Expectations and Evaluation Processes: Is participating in program-level assessment an expectation or requirement for members of your program? If so, share evidence such as relevant handbook pages, job descriptions, or committee assignments. 
  • Meeting Minutes and Agendas: These documents often capture important conversations about and decisions based on assessment of student learning within committees, departments, school/college/office, or faculty senate. Because minutes and agenda can include non-assessment topics, you can submit redacted or excerpted copies. 
  • Program Learning Outcome Statements: PLOs may be listed on the website, in handbooks, or in other program documentation. If your program revised their PLOs, include pre- and post-drafts.
  •  Rubrics: Include any program-level rubrics you created or use to assess student learning. 

If your evidence does not fall into one of these categories, select "other" for an option to include it.


Program Assessment Narrative and Title

You can provide your Program Assessment Narrative as an attachment (.pdf or .docx files only) or you can copy and paste the text into a field.

For the Program Assessment Narrative, provide a short description (500 word max) of how specifically your program developed assessment processes, created "good practices," and/or made changes to improve student learning in relation to the assessment cycle stage(s) your program prioritized over the past three years. Include future plans or next steps for program assessment

Cite the evidence you are including in your narrative using parenthetical citations that either include the file name of the attached artifact or a direct link to the artifact.

Create a short title for your Program Assessment Narrative that highlights what was most significant or meaningful about the program's recent assessment of student learning initiative(s).