Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment

Assessment in higher education takes on multiple meanings and has various aims. Professors assess students' performance in a course and at semester's end assign grades. Programs--examples at our law school include the Externship Program and DU Bar Success--assess courses and activities that teach students specific knowledge and particular skills. The JD Program assesses the design and delivery of its curriculum of legal education in order to maintain excellence and prepare practice-ready lawyers.

JD Program assessment plays a role in earning the law school ABA approval and accreditation. ABA Standards require law schools to engage in assessment.1 Read more about accreditation here.

Assessment begins with establishing Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs). Think of these as takeaways. What do we want a student to take away from a course, from earning a Certificate, from completing the requirements for the JD? The next step is to examine whether these SLOs are being met.

Assessment is data-driven. We want fact-based analysis of our programs of learning. And assessment is a critical activity. We want to know what we are doing well and where we can improve. "Assessment," write two experts in this field, "is the systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development."2

Click on the links to the left to learn more about assessment at Denver Law.

1 ABA Standard 315. EVALUATION OF PROGRAM OF LEGAL EDUCATION, LEARNING OUTCOMES AND ASSESSMENT METHODS. The dean and the faculty of a law school shall conduct ongoing evaluation of the law school's program of legal education, learning outcomes, and assessment methods; and shall use the results of this evaluation to determine the degree of student attainment of competency in the learning outcomes and to make appropriate changes to improve the curriculum.
2 Palomba, C.A. and Banta, T.W. 1999. Assessment Essentials: Planning, Implementing, and Improving Assessment in Higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. P. 4.
Sturm College of Law
University of Denver
2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208