Identifying Your Sample

Selecting your sample is very important. Your curriculum map may help identify which courses will provide direct evidence for the PLO you are assessing. But how many students do you need to include in your sample, and how many artifacts from each student are needed? There is no one answer, as each department is unique, but here are some important ideas to keep in mind. Please contact the A-Team for consultation to discuss how to select an appropriate sample for your assessment plan.

How much data do we need?

The number of students you include in your study and the number of artifacts from each student both depends on the size of your program, the type of evidence you collect, and the methods of analysis you want to carry out. You do not need to collect evidence from every single student, particularly if you have a large program or the direct evidence you collect will take longer to analyze. However, if you only collect evidence from a subset of students, you want to make sure they are a representative cross-section of the students in your program. As an example, you do not want to collect artifacts generated in courses that only your strongest or weakest students tend to take, because this would not adequately represent the spectrum of achievement of the students in your program.

Depending on the analyses you propose to carry out, you may need to collect evidence from multiple cohorts of students before you have enough for analysis, particularly if you have a small program. You should be able to provide a number or approximate range for the number of students and artifacts you will use when describing your direct and indirect evidence in your assessment plan template.

Which data should we include?

Because you are assessing your program and your PLOs address what your students should know upon graduation, you should only analyze evidence from students who are officially in your program.

For undergraduate programs, if your students don't tend to declare their major until later in their undergraduate tenure, you can still collect evidence from students in your courses throughout your curriculum, but you may need to wait until students declare their major or graduate to determine if you should include them in your analysis. The Assessment Research Group can help you determine when students declare majors.

Undergraduate PLO assessment does not include minors, because there are no PLOs required for minor programs.