School of Business
Graduate Studies Department
Master of Accounting

Student Learning Outcomes Assessment

The topic assessment and remediation provides the motivation for and necessity of inclusion for program success and reason for choice of program.

We are proposing a unique method of evaluating SLO's in the Department of Accounting and Finance.  SLO's are clearly defined for students entering the profession as Certified Public Accountants, Chartered Financial Analysts and Certified Management Accountants. Other specialized directions also have clearly defined learning outcomes.  By design the curricula cater for the learning outcomes for students wishing to pursue professional licensing and certifications and are aligned with these outcomes.

Clearly articulating the university’s mission and goals is the first step to designing an assessment process.  The mission and goals become the road map that guides administrators and faculty in the development of student learning outcomes (SLOs) and the types of assessment methods used.  The assessment process should routinely examine the university’s academic programs in the context of the mission and goals with the expressed intent of improving student learning through continuous improvement of curriculum development and delivery.  

Assessment is based on two principles:  accountability and continuous improvement.  With regard to accountability, “Measures of learning can assure external constituents such as potential students, trustees, public officials, supporters, and accreditors, that the organization meets its goals” (AACSB 2007, p.60).  Continuous improvement is an active ongoing process.  “By measuring learning the school can evaluate its students’ success at achieving learning goals, can use the measures to plan improvement efforts, and (depending on the type of measures) can provide feedback and guidance for individual students” (AACSB 2007, p.60).   (AACSB White Paper:  AACSB International Accreditation Coordination Committee and AACSB International Accreditation Quality Committee, 2007)

An effective assessment process should address both how and what students learn.  It involves developing appropriate student learning outcomes (SLOs) – what students are expected to learn in the degree program – the systematic collection and analysis of data that can be used to determine how well students are achieving those learning outcomes, and the development and implementation of recommendations to improve student learning. Such feedback is provided continuously and from a very early stage in the curriculum.

Developing an assessment plan is a six step process.  

  1. Develop SLOs based on the mission and goals of the university.
  2. Develop methods for assessing SLOs.
  3. Identify appropriate areas in the curriculum to collect assessment data and assign data collection responsibility.
  4. Develop a timetable for collecting and analyzing assessment data.
  5. Provide recommendations for improving student learning based on analysis.
  6. Revise curriculum and pedagogy to improve student learning.

Although institutional accountability is one key reason for developing an assessment process, one should not lose sight of the fact that accountability is achieved by using the process to improve student learning and hence professional exam success.  It is, therefore, critical that there be integrated external assessment to guide faculty and training systems directly responsible for what students learn and how they learn.  

Accounting Schools are in large part rated by their students success rates in professional exams. The curriculum has been designed with a view to obtaining high scores by students, this is mainly achieved through excellent training delivery and repeating exam topics and covering learning objectives repeatedly throughout the curriculum. For this learning to be effective continuous assessment is performed, much of it electronically and automatically. To this end the syllabi incorporate all exam topics/outcomes required and the syllabi are cross mapped to the online learning system.

The WILEY CPA/CMA Excel learning management platform will contribute to steps 2 to 4 above for course objectives as defined in the syllabus. The diagnostic tests associated with each SLO will provide the necessary data to carry out steps 5 and 6 to improve the students in classroom experience. To this end we have partnered with the Wiley Company and their CPA/CMA and CFA review systems. These systems provide the program with a unique opportunity to have assessments done routinely and externally bench marked against learning outcomes specified for the professional exams that students will take to become a Certified Public Accountants (CPA's), Certified Management Accountants (CMA's) or Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA's). Students will perform an initial diagnostic test after a learning objective is completed in class. This will constitute the initial assessment. Students will then be able to immediately improve their student learning obtained in the classroom should their assessment score for that particular topic be low.  Should students not be proficient with a certain SLO, the system will immediately address that deficiency by offering a lecture given on the topic by a qualified professor, additional study notes are provided on the particular topic, a follow up assessment quiz is given and the student is provided with flash cards and slides which will help the student master and memorize the topic. Faculty and supervisors can obtain SLO assessment data on a daily basis or when they have covered a particular learning outcome. This tool is very useful for routine faculty student assessment and quality assurance oversight.