Campus Life Assessment

Guide to Creative Assessment

Surveys can be a useful tool for staff, but it shouldn’t be the only form of assessment for an activity or department. A survey can tell you how students feel about their experience or how much they perceive they might be competent in a particular area (such as emotional intelligence). Surveys can provide valuable feedback but they can be even more valuable when complementing more direct measures.

Direct measures assess student performance directly connected to the student learning outcome. It could include a portfolio evaluation, performance, observation, pre/post-test. It is a way that assesses directly what the student learned, typically through demonstration. For example, you might ask a student to engage in a mock interview to watch their interview and then offer feedback. This assesses how well they learned and can demonstrate interview skills.

Indirect measures assess how the student perceives or thinks about their experience. For example, their opinion of how much they learned. Indirect measures are typically surveys or focus groups.  Similar to the example above, asking a student “I am confident in my interviewing skills” and then prompting with a Likert scale from 1-5 assesses the student’s opinion of their interviewing skills.

The table below might help you identify what can be assessed via different methods.


Direct or Indirect

Assessment Tools

Who/What Analyzed?

What can be Assessed?



  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Reflective essays
  • Surveys (local or standardized)
  • Services
  • Student’s Reflection

Perceptions about:

  • Campus climate
  • Perceived learning
  • Processes
  • Satisfaction
  • Value-added
  • Attitudes
  • Values

Learning/Skill Achievement


  • Test score analysis
  • Content analysis
  • Observation with scoring rubrics
  • One Minute Essays
  • Qualitative Questions on Surveys
  • Oral conversations
  • Demonstrations (acting)
  • Standardized tests
  • Capstone course products
  • Portfolios
  • Presentations, performances
  • Publications
  • Club Agendas
  • Knowledge and ability to apply skills
  • Demonstration of competency
  • Value-added



  • Case studies
  • Observations with rubric
  • Campus events
  • Classes
  • Club meetings
  • Student services
  • Attitudes
  • Campus climate
  • Interactions
  • Processes
  • Student learning


Colleges' Resources

Assessment Planning Form
Use this form to:
Submit a highlight
Submit a project for scheduling
Request assessment advice
Submit an assessment reflection


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.