Assessing student learning means assessing to what extent students achieve the goals the institution has set for them. Learning and teaching are core activities at AUR, and assessment of the effectiveness of student learning outcomes (SLOs) therefore take very high priority.

The assessment process at AUR consists of the four-step teaching-learning-assessment cycle.

  1. Developing clear SLOs which define the competencies, skills, and knowledge that students should exhibit if they complete a course, an academic program, a general education requirement, or other learning experiences;
  2. Offering program courses and learning experiences that offer opportunities for students to achieve the stated learning outcomes;
  3. Assessing student achievement of these learning outcomes;
  4. Using the results of these assessments to improve learning and teaching and inform planning and resource allocation decisions.

Achievement of student learning outcomes is assessed primarily within the Academic programs and the General Education program, though student learning will also be assessed periodically through co- and extra-curricular activities (including internships, general and discipline-specific field trips, etc.) and through holistic evaluations such as surveys.

Most academic units have between four and six student learning outcomes, each with a number of specific learning objectives. Rather than assessing all outcomes every year, all units should assess on a three-year cycle. This represents a streamlining of the OA process at AUR and is in line with advice on good assessment practice from other institutions and MSCHE- to make assessments sufficiently simple, practical, and sustainable. In the three-year cycle, each goal is assessed at least once every three years but need not be assessed every year. Program Directors may, at their discretion, choose to assess SLOs more frequently than this, but only if this is manageable and sustainable.

Each year, authors of reports are asked to outline their three-year plan for the assessment of SLOs and submit the Assessment Plan. Flexibility is built into this assessment timetable: the order of assessment of SLOs can be changed if there are strong reasons for doing so, but all SLOs must be given due attention within a three-year cycle to ensure full coverage.

Most areas already have clear SLOs that are clearly understood by faculty and administrators. Some areas have decided to change their SLOS in light of assessment results to ensure a better alignment with the University mission or to make them more measurable. This process is evidence of meaningful faculty engagement with and learning from the OA process and its results. However, the University aims to achieve a relatively stable set of SLOs for each academic area within a short timeframe. The specific objectives associated with each outcome may change more frequently.

AUR will ensure that the SLOs for each program and course are communicated to students in an appropriate way, for example, through AUR communications, course syllabi, or paper-based handouts at specific points in the academic year.

General Education
After a hiatus in regular assessment of the General Education goals and outcomes due to the COVID emergency, we now plan to return to the method of assessment in the General Education Program as established in 2018-2019. Every three years, we plan to undertake an in-depth study of one of the General Education areas while also conducting annual verifications of other distinct goals and requirements within the program.

Following the closure of the Italian Studies major in 2019, the Italian and Modern Languages curriculum became part of the General Education program. Before the COVID crisis, we had planned a 3-year study of our Natural Science offerings; however, due to the importance of Italian Language study to our mission and student success, we have decided to focus on the assessment of this key area and will conduct a minor evaluation of Natural Science instead.

Italian Language Competence: a three-year project
OUTCOME: In order to appreciate the opportunities that Rome has to offer, it is considered essential that all students have a basic competence in the Italian language and culture. All students must demonstrate proficiency in Italian equivalent to one year of study.

2021-2022 – Evaluation of the Italian Language Program

  • Evaluation of introductory Italian Language syllabi (ITL 100, 101, 102) for consistency of structure, outcomes, and assessment
  • Focus groups and/or surveys of students who have completed the required sequence to understand their understanding of competence and proficiency
  • Focus groups and/or surveys of Italian language faculty to gather their views on student competence and proficiency.
  • Convene a small task force to research current trends in modern language teaching and Italian Studies.
  • Examination of the Italian Language & Culture and Italian Studies minors (program and students) to understand the success and effectiveness of these programs

2022-2023 – Propose enhancements based on data collected

  • Convene a task force to propose improvements (if needed) to the Italian Language program based on the data collected in the previous year
    - Identify areas of concern
    - Revision to individual courses
    - Revision to the curriculum as a whole
    - Adoption of new textbooks
    - Faculty training
    - Method of assessing the effectiveness of proposed changes
  • Continue to collect data from students and faculty as indicated above
  • Propose any course or curricular changes to the Curriculum and Academic Affairs Committee

2023-2024 – Implementation and Assessment of enhancements

  • Convene a task force to continue evaluation and data collection
  • Focus assessment on courses or aspects of the curriculum changed in the previous year
  • Focus group/ survey of faculty to gauge initial effectiveness of changes

While the study will be in its active phase for the next three academic years, the changes will continue to be assessed for effectiveness over the next several years following to understand their long-term impact.

In addition to this major project, the General Education program will conduct yearly analyses to ensure that the courses included in each section of Breadth of Knowledge and Additional Requirements include the content and skills to full the stated learning outcomes. This analysis will be conducted via syllabus review, focus groups, and student surveys.

After completing the Italian Language sequence, the General Education program will conduct a detailed study of the Natural Science requirement, aiming to improve its depth and effectiveness similarly.