Basic Assessment Plan and Cycle

At UW–Madison, conducting ongoing and systematic evaluation of student learning is an integral component of high-quality academic and co-curricular programs. Student learning assessment considers what students are expected to learn, where in the curriculum these learning experiences are provided, how it is known that students are learning, and how and when evidence of learning is used to validate or make improvements to courses and/or programs.

UW–Madison Basic Assessment Cycle (WWHSW)


  • What are students expected to learn? Define clear, measurable learning outcomes.


  • Where in the curriculum are students expected to learn and apply the knowledge and skills specified as learning outcomes? Ensure that students engage in sufficient learning experiences to achieve these outcomes.


  • How do program faculty know (what is the evidence) that students are learning what they expect them to? Gather evidence to determine how well student learning matches expectations.

So What

  • So what do the results mean for the program? Include an analysis and discussion of the evaluative evidence. Define any next steps. Use the results to validate or improve learning.

View this guide for more details about how to navigate the basic assessment cycle and planning process.