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Aims of a Stanford Education

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Stanford’s approach to assessing undergraduate learning reflects our belief that assessment should be aligned with the university’s mission and faculty members’ goals for student learning.  A two-year long review of the meaning and goals of Stanford bachelor’s degrees culminated in the publication in 2012 of the Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford (SUES) report. This report laid out a comprehensive vision of the aims of a Stanford education and proposed a redesign of general education, which was acted upon by the Faculty Senate in 2012.  We focus our learning assessment activities on gathering evidence of student achievement of the aims laid forth by the SUES report: owning knowledge, honing skills and capacities, cultivating personal and social responsibility, and adaptive learning. For the full description of these aims, please see  “The Aims of a Stanford Education.”

Our strategy for assessing undergraduate achievement of the aims entails:

  • Triangulation of a wide variety of types of evidence about student learning. No single instrument or assessment technique will adequately represent the diversity and complexity of the learning we expect of our students. 

  • We use direct evidence where possible, collecting artifacts of student performance in classes and extracurricular activities. Typically, these performances are scored using a rubric as part of a focused inquiry into student achievement in a particular domain.

  • We use indirect evidence from student surveys, asking students to reflect upon their learning at graduation and as alumni.

  • Post-graduation career and educational outcomes provide evidence of lifelong learning, adaptive learning, community engagement, and the value of the skills and capacities students develop while at Stanford.