Learning Outcomes & Assessment

When a student completes a program of study in Communication, what should they know, understand, and be able to do? When a student completes any degree program at a college or university, what should they know, understand, and be able to do with respect to Communication? How can faculty and administrators best assess and enhance student learning? And how do we “close the loop” and really make assessment work to improve teaching and learning?

For decades, NCA and its members have considered these and many other questions that animate the teaching and learning process for students in the discipline. To help answer these questions, NCA has collected reports, guidelines, assessment instruments, and other resources:

Learning Outcomes in Communication 

NCA's Learning Outcomes in Communication (LOC) project seeks an answer to the question, “When students complete a program of study in Communication, what should they know, understand, and be able to do?” Supported by a generous grant from Lumina Foundation, LOC convened a diverse group of 30 faculty leaders from around the nation to articulate expected student learning outcomes in Communication.

Measuring College Learning in Communication 

As a result of the LOC project's support from Lumina Foundation, NCA was asked to participate in the Measuring College Learning (MCL) Project. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Teagle Foundation, and organized by the Social Science Research Council, MCL sought to define and measure college learning in six disciplines: Biology, Business, Communication, Economics, History, and Sociology.

Report of the July 2000 Hope College Conference on Designing the Undergraduate Curriculum in Communication 

This report, generated by the NCA co-sponsored Institute for Faculty Development in 2000, summarizes eight learning goals for the Communication major and provides suggestions for how to achieve them.

Speaking and Listening Competencies for College Students 

This document summarizes two sets of competencies for college students, as developed by various Communication scholars, federal government agencies, and research centers. The competencies primarily represent speaking and listening skills that could help undergraduates communicate more effectively at school, in the workplace, and in society. First published in 1998, the document was reviewed and reaffirmed by NCA's Educational Policies Board in the Spring of 2012.

Assessment Resources and Instruments 

  • A Communication Assessment Primer
    A Communication Assessment Primer is an excellent resource for any department that wants to improve student learning by developing effective assessment programs. This publication is designed to help Communication departments create the right assessment program and ensure that their students are learning everything they need to know. Edited by Phil Backlund, Ph.D., and Gay Wakefield, Ph.D., each chapter is written by professors who have extensive interest in, and experience with, successful assessment programs.
  • Assessing Motivation to Communicate
    This essential tool for communication apprehension assessment includes a lecture guide for instructors, directions for administrators, and 20 communication-related articles that can be used in class. This publication also includes the Personal Report on Communication Apprehension and Willingness to Communicate, two tools for assessing communication apprehension.
  • The Competent Speaker Speech Evaluation Form
    This resource for teachers and administrators can be used to evaluate persuasive speeches in class; for testing-in or testing-out (placement) purposes; as a tool for instructing and advising students; and to generate assessment data for departmental or institutional accountability.
  • Conversational Skills Rating Scale: An Instructional Assessment of Interpersonal Competence
    A multi-trait, multi-method approach to interpersonal communication competence. Clearly written with a thorough research base, this publication includes sample forms that can be copied and used in the classroom.