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Office of Assessment

Direct and indirect measures of student learning

Direct Measures of Student Learning

  • The capstone experience
  • Portfolio assessment
  • Standardized tests (e.g., Major Field Achievement Test [MFAT]; the Test of
  • Critical Thinking Ability; the Academic Profile)
  • Performance on national licensure, certification, or professional exams (e.g., Professional Assessment Examination for Beginning Teachers [PRAXIS]; Federal
  • Aviation Administration exam)
  • Locally developed tests
  • Essay questions blind scored by faculty across the department, division, school, or college
  • Qualitative internal and external juried review of comprehensive senior projects
  • Externally reviewed exhibitions and performance in the arts
  • External evaluation of performance during internships based on stated program objectives

Source: Cecilia Lopez, NCA Commission on Institutions of Higher Education: Opportunities for Improvement: Advice from Consultant-Evaluators of Programs to Assess Student Learning, March, 1996


Indirect Measures of Student Learning

  • Alumni, employer, and student surveys
  • Exit interviews of graduates and focus groups
  • Interviews of instructors, program coordinators, residence halls leaders, and others who have direct contact with students
  • Graduate follow-up studies
  • Retention and transfer studies
  • Length of time to degree
  • SAT / ACT scores
  • Graduation rates and transfer rates
  • Job placement data
  • Satisfaction surveys
  • Self-report measures assessing students’ perceptions of what they’ve learned
  • Observing and recording students’ behaviors


(1) University of Hawaii - Choose a Method to Collect Data/Evidence
(2) Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice’s list of Indirect Measures