Student Learning Outcomes Assessment provides an ongoing, systematic, and iterative process for gathering, analyzing and using information from measured student learning outcomes (SLOs) to improve student learning—in short, “informed action…enhances student learning” (Walvoord, 2010, p. 27). Toward this end, faculty define SLOs, collect information, analyze, and finally apply that information to enhance student learning by making substantive changes to methods and curriculum where necessary. At Weimar Institute, assessment provides an opportunity for faculty, staff, students, and administration to participate in a self-evaluation of educational effectiveness at the Activity Level (classroom, mission trips, PAC projects, etc.), Program Level (Christian Education, General Education, Natural Science, Religion, Student Services, etc.), and Institutional Level (Allen, 2004, pp. 4-5; Allen, 2006, p. 1; Driscoll & Wood, 2007, p. 34; Maki, 2004, p. 15).
Student Learning Outcomes Assessment effectively asks and provides answers to the following questions:
- What should students learn?
- How well do we evaluate learning?
- What have students learned?
- Were our methods, practices, processes and curriculum effective?
- How can we do this (methods, practices and processes) better?
While we are very interested in connecting and deepening our understanding of student learning through up-to-date research and theory, we hold in high esteem the educational writings of Ellen G. White. She opened her classic on Christian education (White, 1952/1903) with a paragraph that extols three important educational principles: holistic, life-long and service learning.
Our ideas of education take too narrow and too low a range. There is need of a broader scope, a higher aim. True education means more than the pursual of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being, and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come. (p. 13)
To learn more about assessment at Weimar Institute, please see the Student Learning Outcomes Assessment System Handbook.