Degree Program Expectations How-to Guide

Degree Program Expectations and the Curriculum & Assessment Cycle

The resources provided on this website will assist you in completing the Degree Program Expectations, including the six steps of the assessment process.

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The website can also be used as a tool for completing the Curriculum & Assessment section of the Self-Study Report, a requirement of the Academic Program Review process.  For each step, the website:

  • Provides a basic overview of the goals and purpose of the step,
  • Offers suggestions and potential strategies for effectively completing the step, and
  • Lists specific activities for units associated with the step.

The ideas and suggestions for completing the steps are intended to provide useful information for faculty and department chairs.  Meaningful assessment practices are anything but a one-size-fits-all approach.  For assessment to be useful, it needs to be tailored to fit each academic unit and program.  Since each academic department or school and its degree programs differ in terms of size, approach, and outlook, it is important to ensure that the assessment approach matches the needs of the program, the faculty, and students. Staff from the Office of Curriculum, Learning Design, & Academic Assessment are available to discuss any thoughts or ideas to help programs build a learning outcomes assessment approach that fulfills NAU’s assessment requirements and meets the needs of your faculty and students.

An overview of the Curriculum & Assessment Cycle

The Cyclical Nature of Learning Outcomes Assessment and NAU’s Six Step Assessment Cycle

The primary goal of program learning outcomes assessment at NAU is to assess how well the program’s students have achieved the program’s learning outcomes.  Obtaining this information leads to identifying student learning strengths and areas for continued improvement.  Due to this approach, the process of “curriculum and assessment” is cyclical in nature. It is an ongoing process that should evolve and change to inform directions for a program’s curriculum as programs and students evolve and change.  Our goal is to ensure our programs maintain student learning strengths, and that actions taken result in the improvements sought by the program’s faculty. 

There are six steps to NAU’s learning outcomes assessment cycle:

Step 0 or 6. Develop/revise the program’s purpose statements, learning outcomes, curriculum map, and strategically design courses to achieve the goals and aims set forth

Step 1. Determine where/when to conduct assessment

Step 2. Design outcome measures (assignments, tests, etc.)

Step 3. Collect data

Step 4. Analyze, interpret and evaluate findings

Step 5. Use findings: Select actions to take based on assessment findings and develop a plan to implement actions

Figure: Program Learning Outcomes Assessment Cycle

 Program Learning Outcomes Assessment Cycle


Degree Program Expectation: Purpose Statement

Degree Program Expectation: Learning Outcomes

Degree Program Expectation: Curriculum Design, Curriculum Map/Matrix

Degree Program Expectation: Systematic Assessment

Degree Program Expectation: Use of Findings

Degree Program Expectation: Strategic Course Design

Guide to Designing, or Re-designing, a Course

Checklist for High-Quality Course Design 

Guide to Creating Assignments Aligned to Course Outcomes