An underlying tenet of outcomes assessment is that student learning is the responsibility of faculty and the institution. Universities should measure the effects of their undergraduate education and methods of instruction. Surveys can determine what outcomes of data exist. In order to understand and serve adult learners, programs need to be explicit about the role of self-assessment in adult learning. Adult learners at the State University of New York's Empire State College (Saratoga Springs, New York) work closely with faculty mentors/advisors. Students can complete a degree tied closely to individual, career, and educational goals. Empire State uses assessment approaches directed toward individual students; the plan focuses on ways to improve programs and services. Individualized education and lifelong learning are awarded priority. Outcome assessment in relation to learning contracts and contract evaluations has been a focus of faculty development activities. Review of case studies helps faculty to review past practices and allows student outcomes to be assessed more effectively. Information derived from case studies offers an opportunity to examine students' personal, academic, and career goals. (Ten attachments are included: individualized degree plans for three students; sample contract documents--learning contract and contract evaluation; case studies of four students; and a 19-item outcomes assessment bibliography.) (NLA)
Paper presented at the National University Conference on Lifelong Learning: Meeting the Higher Education Needs of Adult Learners (San Diego, CA, February 14, 1992).