Welcome to the FAQ for GFC MSU Assessment. Scroll down to find answers to common questions.

What's New With Assessment?

Do we have an assessment committee? 

Yes! Thanks to a wonderful group of faculty volunteers, we now have a standing assessment committee with members representing all three academic divisions.   


What is our assessment process? 

After reviewing the results of the 2018-2019 assessment pilot, the campus assessment process is under revision. The revised process will be shared through a series of short informational videos at the beginning of the fall 2020 semester; full implementation will begin that semester.  

During the fall of 2019, faculty were asked to continue to assess student learning in their courses as they normally would, e.g., providing instruction, assessing formative and summative learning tools, and evaluating student progress. 

Faculty were asked to complete reflections for one course for the spring 2020 semester by completing the 2020 Student Learning Assessment Faculty Reflection form. Reflections were due to Mandy Wright by May 22, 2020.  

Faculty who want to use the optional Learning Outcomes Assessment Form (LOAF, formerly the Phase IV) to track student learning and attainment of course outcomes may do so for their own purposes. This form is not intended to replace the reflection form.   

An in-depth discussion of the assessment process can be viewed in the video below:

How do all of the different levels of outcomes fit together?

The word "outcome" can be considered synonymous with the phrase "learning goals." As an institution, we have learning goals for students at the lesson/unit, course, program, and institutional levels. The graphic below illustrates how learning goals (outcomes) broaden as they apply to more students.

At the assignment or unit level, the learning goals are narrow and specific to the lesson or unit being taught in the classroom. These learning goals should align with the course-level learning goals, which indicate what students should be able to do upon completion of the course. The course learning goals align with the program outcomes, which indicate what students should be able to do upon completion of the program. Finally, everything aligns with the College Learning Outcomes, which are the learning goals we have as an institution for all students who complete a credential with us.   

outcomes graphic    

College Learning Outcomes (CLOs)

What are the College Learning Outcomes?

The College Learning Outcomes (CLOs) are our institutional learning goals for all students. The College Learning Outcomes (CLOs) are statements of the general knowledge, skills, and habits of mind that all students at Great Falls College MSU should be able to demonstrate upon completion of their degree programs. The College Learning Outcomes (CLOs) support the college’s mission by encouraging high-quality learning activities within programs, enhancing the professional and personal lives of students.

Our campus has implemented different iterations of institutional learning outcomes over the years. We began with the 8 Abilities in 2007 and then transitioned to the 5 CLOs in 2016. Based on faculty feedback and actual alignment to and assessment of the 5 CLOs, we discovered that the 5 CLOs did not meet our needs as an institution. In the fall of 2019, faculty feedback and brainstorming during assessment workshops led to the revision of the CLOs. 

The revised College Learning Outcomes were accepted by the Curriculum Committee on November 15, 2019. The revised CLOs, as well as other information about student learning assessment, can be found on the Student Learning Assessment page.

Do I need to use the revised CLOs on my syllabus for fall 2020?

Yes. Faculty should align their courses, as appropriate, with the revised CLOs for fall 2020. Remember that only the CLOs being assessed in the course should be aligned. Coverage of material is not the same thing as assessment. 

How should I assess the College Learning Outcomes (CLOs)? 

The CLOs have been revised and adopted by the institution. Programs should map their program outcomes to the CLOs. The goal should be to show alignment with all three CLOs over the course of an entire program.

Not every course will assess a CLO. There is also not an expectation that courses assess all three CLOs.   

Faculty should assess the CLOs in a manner consistent with their department or program assessment plan. Some areas will have common assessments for CLOs while others will leave CLO assessment to the discretion of individual faculty. It is important that any courses aligned with a CLO actually include an assessment in line with the outcome statements for each CLO. Discussion or coverage of a CLO is not the same thing as assessment.  

How do the CLOs fit into the institutional assessment process?

A short video overview of the CLOs and institutional assessment can be viewed below:

Course Assessment

How should I assess my courses?

Faculty should assess their courses as they normally would. During their normal assessment process, faculty should maintain a record of strengths and opportunities for improvement observed in student work, changes implemented in the course, data leading to those changes, and results of the changes.

Following their department/program assessment plan, faculty will reflect on their courses using the reflection form

Faculty who want to use the optional Learning Outcomes Assessment Form (LOAF, formerly the Phase IV) to track student learning and attainment of course outcomes may do so for their own purposes.    

Do I still need to complete a reflection form?

Yes. The reflection form is our campus tool to gather data about all levels of assessment. The reflection form should also serve as a useful tool for individual faculty to help track changes and progress in their courses. 

Effective fall 2020, all faculty (full-time and adjunct) will be required to complete course reflections consistent with their program or department's assessment plan.    

A short video walk-through of the reflection form is available below.

Course Outcomes/Common Course Numbering (FLOC)

What are course outcomes?

Learning goals, objectives, outcomes--these are all different words for the same thing. Each course should have a set of learning goals which students should be able to attain and demonstrate upon completion of the course. Most of our courses have pre-determined course outcomes that come from the Montana University System's Common Course Numbering database. 

How do I know what outcomes to use for my course? 

First, check the Montana University System's CCN Course Guide at https://ccn.mus.edu/search/. Search for your course to see if there are FLOC outcomes for it. 

Some courses do not have FLOC outcomes. The Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE) has begun a review of all CCN courses and formed new FLOCs for several disciplines. Your discipline may eventually have FLOC outcomes, but until then, use the course outcomes that you have been using on your syllabi. 

A good practice would be to occasionally revisit the CCN Course Guide at https://ccn.mus.edu/search/ to check for updated FLOC outcomes. 

What is Common Course Numbering?

Common Course Numbering is the Montana University System's process to ensure equivalency between courses taught at multiple institutions, in order to support transferability and transparency in course offerings. Under common-course numbering, any course determined by faculty to be equivalent to any other course must have the same prefix, number, and title. 

What are the FLOC outcomes?

 As part of the Common Course Numbering process, groups of faculty call Faculty Learning Outcomes Committees meet to review courses in a discipline. Through these reviews, common learning outcomes for courses are established.  

Am I required to use the FLOC outcomes?

If your course has been through the Common Course Numbering process and FLOC outcomes are available, you must use those outcomes. The current interpretation of the "80% rule" from OCHE is that all FLOC outcomes must be used in a course. If a department/program wants to create and include additional outcomes, they may do so, as long as the FLOC outcomes comprise 80% or more of the total number of outcomes.

How do I find the FLOC outcomes for my course? 

Visit the Montana University System's CCN Course Guide at https://ccn.mus.edu/search/, There, you can search for courses in your subject area. To see the FLOC outcomes, click on the blue course prefix and number. See below for an example.

example CCN table    


Why does my department/program need a program map?

A program map shows how all of the courses taught in your program/department fit together to create a cohesive, meaningful learning experience for students. When a student completes a degree, the program should be able to show how and what the student learned. By creating a program map, we can show at a high level where program outcomes are met in courses and give a more holistic picture of student learning. General Studies departments should create a map showing how their courses align with the MUS Core outcomes. This supports the assessment of the Core and the AA/AS. 

CTE and other programs should create program maps aligning with their outcomes as listed in the GFC MSU catalog

Program mapping also can help with curriculum planning. For example, a completed program map might show where some program outcomes are heavily addressed while others are not addressed sufficiently. This might help faculty to realign courses with program outcomes to ensure a more consistent learning experience for students.    

How should I create my program map? 

The curriculum map on the program/department assessment plan should be used to indicate how program outcomes align with courses within the program. Department chairs and program directors should lead their areas in creating these maps. 

How should programs map to related instruction courses? 

Related instruction courses should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Each program should consider the role that the related instruction course plays in the program overall.

If the program has an outcome that directly aligns with a related instruction course, then that course might be included on the program map. For example, if the program has an outcome related to communication that is met through students completing WRIT 104, then WRIT 104 should be included on the map.  

If programs map to related instruction courses, the program director should work with the faculty in the department teaching the related instruction course to determine how and when the course will be used to assess the program outcome. 

What is a Common Course Outline and who should complete it?  

The Common Course Outline is intended to serve as a master document for each course that is taught across multiple sections with different instructors. This pertains primarily to General Studies (Core) courses.

The Common Course Outline eliminates instructor or class-specific policies and procedures, focusing instead on the learning outcomes for the course and alignment with program and institutional outcomes. 

While completion of this document is optional, ideally, all General Studies courses will have a completed Common Course Outline.  

How is the Common Course Outline different from the outcomes table that is on the current syllabus template?

The Common Course Outline and the alignment table on the current syllabus template do include some of the same information. The Common Course Outline is intended to serve as the "master" document guiding faculty to create their syllabus charts for courses that are taught across multiple sections.

Program Assessment

How should I assess my program?

Programs with external accreditation should continue to meet the requirements of those organizations. 

Program assessment is based on the assessment plan and schedule created by each program/department. The assessment process overall relies heavily on faculty course reflections. As faculty complete their course reflections based on the department/program schedule, the Director of Assessment will aggregate those reflections into a program assessment report. 

How should my program/department create a plan for assessing our program outcomes?

Programs and departments should use the program/department assessment plan document to support their assessment planning. 

As part of the assessment plan, programs/departments should develop a rotation schedule that works logically for the number of courses, program outcomes, and any external requirements that apply to their area. The rotation should be 5 years or less.


How do I complete the outcomes chart on the syllabus template?

The syllabus template has an outcomes chart in section III. The image below gives a brief overview. If you need help completing your syllabus chart, please contact your program director/department chair or Mandy Wright

 Syllabus Chart Example




Updated 10/9/20 

Contact Information:

Mandy Wright

Mandy Wright
Director of Assessment and Teaching & Learning Center