Assessment of Student Learning

Assessment at St. Olaf has long been understood as “inquiry in support of student learning.” We gather systematic evidence of our students’ knowledge, proficiencies, and learning experiences, so we can sustain what is working and strengthen what needs to be improved.

We are committed to an assessment program that is:


Student-centered – Assessment helps us determine the extent to which we are realizing the educational goals we have established for our students.

The St. Olaf faculty and staff have articulated goals for student learning across the entire St. Olaf experience (STOGoals) that provide a framework for our assessment efforts at the institutional level. Intended learning outcomes for General Education, the OLE Core (new GE) curriculum, and for majors, concentrations and other academic programs guide our data-gathering at the program level.

Mission-driven, meaningful, and manageable – Assessment advances the mission of the college by helping us evaluate and strengthen our work with students.

We use a variety of approaches to gathering evidence, because multiple methods are more likely to yield meaningful results. We streamline our work through a data collection schedule that cycles through different types of surveys and assessments each year.

Equitable – Assessment is used as a means to advance the equity goals of the College. Practitioners are encouraged to pay attention to the ways in which their assessment practices align with best practices for equity-minded assessment.

Equity goals should be assessed regularly to gather meaningful evidence about progress. The College does so through metrics developed and highlighted in our DEI Dashboards. In addition, those conducting assessments should use an equity-minded approach to ensure that their findings reflect the experiences of all students and provide students with multiple ways to demonstrate their learning. Visit the IE&A page on Equity in Assessment to learn more.

Faculty and staff-supported – The assessment program is led through a partnership between the elected faculty Academic Assessment Committee, the Provost and Dean of the College, the Co-curricular Assessment Committee, and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment.

The Academic Assessment Committee advises faculty, departments, programs, and the college on assessment procedures and methods for academic program-level assessment and assessment of General Education. The Co-curricular Assessment Committee supports existing staff efforts to gather assessment evidence about student learning in the co-curriculum and advocates for growth and expansion of these efforts. Both work with IE&A to carry out St. Olaf’s assessment program.

Utilization-focused – Most assessment begins with the question, “Who will use the evidence that is gathered, and for what purpose?”

Staff and faculty conducting assessments are encouraged to focus on how they plan to use findings to adjust curriculum requirements, program or course content, student assignments, instructional practices, or their work with and support of students.

Transparent – While St. Olaf faculty, staff, and students are the principal “users” of assessment results, we make our findings readily available to the St. Olaf Board of Regents and to the larger community as well.

The most recent findings from all our institutional-level assessment projects are publicly-accessible on the IE&A website (under “What We Know About…”) or the Academic Assessment Committee website, and the St. Olaf Outcomes page includes links to a variety of assessment data of particular interest to prospective students and families.





Image credits from The Noun Project: student by Ladalle CS; Mission by Nithinan Tatah; Equity by Laura Amaya; decision by Template; window by Joel Bryant