AA Degree Requirements

The areas in which students must demonstrate achievement to earn an AA Degree, generally by passing courses. See the college catalog.


1) Broadly, all the steps involved in “the systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning […](Palomba & Banta, 1999).

2) Narrowly, determining the extent to which students have met AA Degree learning outcomes. Assessment of learning outcomes should be considered in terms of pre-established college standards of achievement, but the amount of student learning at the college, as measured by preassessment and post-assessment, should also be considered.

Capstone Assessment

Assessment of outcomes structure into learning experiences occurring at the end of a program.
The experiences involve demonstration of a comprehensive range of program outcomes through
some type of product or performance. The outcomes may be those of the major and of the
general education program or of the major only (Palomba & Banta, 1999).

Conditions Under Which the Behavior Will be Measured

Conditions include the method of assessment; how, when, and by whom the method of assessment will be administered; and the criteria to be used if appropriate.

Criteria / Standards

Performance descriptors that indicate how well students will meet expectations of what they should be able to think, know, or do. They are descriptive benchmarks against which performance is judged. These criteria or standards may be described in varying gradients of success as in rubrics or in grades. Often they are stated in terms of percentages, percentiles, or other quantitative measures (Nichols, 2000).

Direct Assessment Methods

These methods involve students’ display of knowledge and skills (e.g. test results, written assignments, presentations, classroom assignments) resulting from learning experiences in the class or program (Palomba & Banta, 1999).


Decisions made about assessment findings; deciding about the value of programs/program outcomes; may involve recommendations for changes (CSUS).

Formative Assessment

Assessment conducted during a performance/course/program with the purpose of providing feedback that can be used to modify, shape, and improve a performance/course/program.


General/global statements about knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values expected in students completing a course, discipline, or program. These goals should reflect the mission statement of an institution or broad statements about what students should get out of the AA Degree requirements. Goals for learning and objectives for learning are often used interchangeably; however, educators make a distinction between the two terms. While both can be used to describe the intended results of educational activities and both provide direction for assessment, the two differ in level of specificity (Palomba & Banta, 1999; Allen, 2004).

Holistic Scoring

A type of grading in which an assignment is given an overall score. Possible scores are described in a rating scale. A high score indicates achievement of all aspects of the assignment, while a low score means few if any of the desired outcomes have been achieved. The score levels need to be specific enough to reveal meaningful, diagnostic information when the scores are aggregate (Ewell, 1991; Palomba & Banta, 1999).

Indirect Assessment Methods

Assessment methods that involve perceptions of learning rather than actual demonstrations of outcome achievement (e.g. alumni surveys, employer surveys, exit interviews).

Intended Outcomes

Clear statements about what a student should know, do, or value as a result of completing a course or program. Synonymous terms: outcomes, objectives, intended results of educational activities, statements of expectations, competencies, or indicators.

Outcomes / Objectives

Specific, measurable behaviors clearly and concisely reflecting desired knowledge, skills, or values in a course, discipline, program, or institution. Outcomes or objectives state specifically what we want our students to know, to do, or to value. Learning outcomes/objectives should reflect the goals of a course, discipline, department, program, or unit in an institution. Learning outcomes can be divided into three categories: cognitive, affective, and skills. Student learning outcomes (SLO’s) should include the measurable behavior, the means of measuring the behavior, and the criteria or standards of achievement. Outcomes include service outcomes (SO’s) in non-instructional units of an institution. Service outcomes focus on products, services, or processes provided by the unit. Service outcomes also reflect the goals of a unit or institution.

Methods of Assessment

The various ways that can be used to determine the extent to which students have met the learning or service outcomes. Some examples are nationally standardized objective tests, college-developed objective tests, oral exams and structured interviews, portfolio assessment, and possibly classroom tests and assignments.


A holistic vision of the values and philosophy of a department, program, unit, or institution. General education learning goals are often found in the institution’s mission statement (Palomba & Banta, 1999; Allen, 2004).

Portfolio Assessment

A type of direct measure, a performance measure, in which students’ assignments are carefully reviewed for evidence of desired learning outcomes. The portfolios contain work selected over a period of time, with materials added as the student progresses thorough the course/program. In addition, the portfolios usually include students’ reflective learning/outcomes analysis statements (Lyons, 1998).


Those students enrolled at the college about whom we want to draw conclusions in regard to how well they have achieved the learning outcomes.


Determination of how well students meet learning outcomes when or soon before they leave the college.


Determination of how well students meet learning outcomes when or soon after they enroll at the college.

Primary Trait Analysis

Factors or traits (assignment specific) that are considered in scoring an assignment generally stated in a hierarchical scale of three to five incremental levels of achievement quality. For each level on the scale, there is a specific statement that describes expected behavior (criterion) at that level (Walvoord & Anderson, 1998).

Qualitative Assessment

” [.. . ]qualitative methods such as in-depth, open-ended interviews, observations of activities,
[. . .] and analysis of written documents yield direct quotations, descriptions, and excerpts rather
than numbers” (Palomba & Banta, 1999).

Quantitative Assessment

Emphasis is on “[. . . ] numbers, measurement, experimental design, and statistical analysis […]. Techniques include questionnaires, structured interviews, and tests” (Palomba & Banta, 1999).

Rubric / Scoring Guide

A kind of holistic or primary trait scoring in which detailed criteria are delineated and use to discriminate among levels of achievement in assignments, performances, or products


Students from a population who will be assessed or measured in terms of one or more learning outcomes. The sample group should statistically represent the population.

Standard of Achievement

The minimum level of the behavior that will be accepted as meeting the expectations for AA Degree student learning (see learning outcomes). Since it is unlikely that all students will meet the standard of achievement, the minimum acceptable percent of students meeting it should also be specified.

Summative Assessment / Evaluation

Assessment conducted after a program has been implemented and completed to make judgments about its quality or worth compared to previously defined standards (Palomba & Banta, 1999).


multiple lines of evidence pointing to the same conclusion.


Allen, Mary. “Articulating Learning Objectives.” Workshop presented at WASC/AAHE
Collaborative Workshop on Building Learner-Centered Institutions-Developing
Institutional Strategies for Assessing and Improving Student Learning. March 2004.
California State University, Sacramento. “Assessment Glossary of Terms.” 23 Aug. 2004.
Ewell, P.T. “To Capture the Ineffable: New Forms of Assessment in Higher Education.” In G.
Grant (ed.), Review of Research in Education, no. 17. Washington D.C.: American
Educational Research Association, 1991.
Lyons, N. “Portfolios and Their Consequences: Developing the Reflective Practitioner.” In N.
Lyons (ed.), Review of Research in Education, no. 17. Washington D.C.: American
Educational Research Association, 1998.
Nichols J., and K. Nichols. The Departmental Guide and Record Book for Student Outcomes
Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness. New York: Agathon Press, 2000.
Palomba, Catherine, and Trudy Banta. Assessment Essentials. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999.
Walvoord, Barbara, and Virginia Anderson. Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and
Assessment. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 1998.