A course within a program has goals outlined in the course syllabus.
Similarly, a program has overarching goals that incorporate multiple course-level goals,
but extend beyond those goals.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Program goals tend to be more holistic and system-wide, while course-level goals tend to be more specific. They also tend toward the "lower" cognitive domains of knowledge, comprehension, and application, while program-level goals tend toward the "higher" cognitive domains of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. This makes designing program-level assessments somewhat more difficult.
A program assessment specifies exactly how we will objectively measure the extent to which a program has succeeded in its program goals.
While program-level and course-level assessments are distinct, they overlap. They can and should overlap in implementation also. So, build good assessment instruments and then use them for as much as possible. Use course-level data in program-level reports. Use college-wide assessments such as the VE-135 for your program goals. Be creative with existing assessments.
The conclusion of this is that faculty
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