Each program and transcripted certificate must use direct measures of learning aligned with the outcomes such as test questions (not grades) or projects with a rubric (or other methods that will allow for systematic review of the course product) from upper-level courses. When done well and in the aggregate, these methods allow programs to determine not only if the students achieved the outcome, but allows faculty to identify both strengths and areas of improvement for the program, which is a requirement of the process. Programs can measure as many outcomes as they deem appropriate each year as long as they are all assessed within three to five years. A single tool or set of questions from a major exam can assess multiple outcomes.
NC State has identified five general education competencies: written communication, oral communication, quantitative literacy, and critical and creative thinking (the QEP). These competencies were selected through a process involving the input of NC State faculty from diverse disciplines, and are each measured in a number of ways. Measurements for the general education competencies include standardized assessments (including those selected by NC State, UNC General Administration, and the Voluntary System of Accountability), authentic assessment measures, including the application of rubrics to student products (essays, oral presentations, course assignments, etc.), and university, UNC System, and national surveys. General education competencies are assessed at both the freshman and senior levels to observe trends over time and growth.
Each program within the Division of Academic and Student Affairs (DASA) that works directly with students is required to measure at least one student learning outcome each academic year. Similar to the undergraduate academic programs, all DASA programs can measure as many student learning outcomes as they want as long as all are assessed within a three to five year period. DASA programs use a wide variety of assessment methods including surveys, focus groups, and rubrics. The evidence gathered from these assessment methods is then used to improve the program.