Isothermal Community College

Institutional Assessment

Assessment Manual

Student-level Learning Outcomes

Educational programs only

A core component of learning is the work that students produce as a result of a course of study. Whether it is a well-done hair style or an English essay, student work that is compared to a common standard (benchmark or threshold) offers educators the best possible understanding of the amazingly complex process of learning.


No one should pretend that the assessments of products (tests, papers, projects, etc.) summarize all student learning. It is, however, the best window that our profession has to leverage improvement. To teach holistically, the assessment of student work is viewed alongside other areas of human experience that are harder to assess, like the emotional and social domains of learning.


While limited, student artifacts are powerful when combined with more work from that student and/or with work on a similar assessment from other students. Isothermal has a strong portfolio process in place that allows students, instructors, administrators, and outside evaluators to appreciate the work of improving lives at the most granular level.


Portfolios are a collection of student artifacts organized around competencies, primarily the general education competencies, but program competencies as well. Instructors support the portfolio process by designating assignments on each syllabus that could produce artifacts for a stated program or general education competency. Instructors also support the portfolio process by encouraging students to keep a physical or electronic copy of work for their portfolio. The portfolio documents and graduate portfolio assignment packet are available on the Intranet.


When students near the end of their program, they enroll in the capstone course specific to their program. A focus of the capstone course is to help students compile their artifacts, organize them by student learning outcome, and reflect on their improvement. All capstone students write a Graduate Essay, which is a specific assignment that is common to all programs and are scored, for institutional purposes, with a common rubric.


The combined effect of the portfolio, capstone course, and graduate essay is powerful for students and an important part of program development. While instructors learn what fostered learning and yielded improvement, students also benefit. They apply the critical thinking skills gained at Isothermal to their own accomplishments and determine for themselves the value of their education.