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Pathways Assessment

COVID-19 Update for Fall 2020: The university has decided to suspend the collection of Pathways assessment data for the Fall 2020 semester. Collection of this information for all courses will begin again in Spring 2021. If anyone is already planning to collect assessment data, they are encouraged to submit this information to the Institutional Effectiveness unit.

Pathways assessment data will be used to inform and improve the Pathways curriculum to enhance student learning at Virginia Tech, not to evaluate individual instructors or courses. Each time a Pathways course is taught, instructors will collect and report assessment data. Submitted data will be aggregated at the student learning outcome level, ensuring that data are not student, instructor, or course identifiable.

To fine-tune the program, faculty (particularly members of the University Curriculum Committee for General Education - UCCGE) will come together to discuss the results and make plans for improvement.

Pathways Assessment Process

There are five steps in the Pathways assessment process. Pathways instructors are expected to complete steps 1-2 either before classes begin or at the beginning of the semester, and complete steps 3-4 during or at the end of the semester. Advance planning will enable instructors to conduct Pathways assessment more efficiently, saving time at the end of the semester.

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Navigate the tabs below to access information and resources for each step in the Pathways assessment process. In the right column are general resources for Pathways assessment, including FAQs.

Want face-to-face support? Search through PDN for upcoming workshops.

If you would like step-by-step guidance through this process, check out our ‘how-to’ video modules. To get started, watch the Introduction video and the Resources Overview video.

For helpful guidance, check out this Pathways Assessment Tips for lessons learned from the Fall 2018 cycle.


Instructors teaching a Pathways course should first consult the official course proposal to determine which core and integrative concepts and respective student learning outcomes are addressed in the course. Instructors are responsible for assessing ALL of the Pathways concepts and student learning outcomes specified in the official course proposal. See full descriptions of the Pathways Concepts and Outcomes.

To obtain your official course proposal, you may want to reach out to your Department Chair, course coordinator (for multi-section courses), or your department may maintain a Canvas site or Google drive with these materials.

Still having trouble? See the useful tool below to find exactly which concepts and outcomes should be addressed in your course.

Useful tool

A list of current Pathways courses and minors, either already approved or in governance, is available as a searchable Pathways assessment table. To access information about approved concepts and student learning outcomes, scroll to the right.

Watch the Step 1 video for extra help.

Step 2 - Select student work

For EACH Pathways student learning outcome addressed in the course, instructors should select a piece of student work (i.e. a direct measure of student learning) that aligns with that outcome. Pathways instructors should select the type of student work that best fits with their course and assessment plans.

One of the key features of Pathways assessment is that each student learning outcome needs to be assessed independently. Instructors may use the same essay, project, presentation, etc. to measure multiple student learning outcomes as long as different components or aspects of the assignment are used to measure the different student learning outcomes.

The Pathways Rubrics have different criteria for each of the student learning outcomes to help instructors measure the student learning outcomes separately. If an instructor uses a quiz or exam to assess multiple student learning outcomes, each student learning outcome should be assessed with a unique set of quiz/exam questions that aligns with the specific student learning outcome.

More specific information related to selecting student work for Pathways assessment is available in the FAQs, specifically FAQ #6 and #7.

Instructors may find it helpful to review the Pathways Rubrics for the core and integrative concepts addressed in their course prior to selecting student work for Pathways assessment.

Direct measures

are observable and demonstrate a student’s knowledge, skills, or abilities. Examples include exams, quizzes, papers, presentations, performances, and capstone projects.

Watch the Step 2 video for extra help.

Step 3 - Assess student work

Instructors will apply the Pathways Rubrics to the student work they selected in Step 2 to determine student competency levels for each student learning outcome addressed in the course. Instructors will rate students as below competent, competent, or above competent.

Applying the Pathways Rubrics

Depending on the student work that is selected, instructors may choose to use a Pathways Rubric as is to assess student performance, or the instructor may interpret a Pathways Rubric to determine the extent to which a student has gained the knowledge, skill, or ability articulated in a specific student learning outcome. For example, if an instructor chooses to use 9 multiple choice items from a final exam in order to measure a Pathways student learning outcome, the instructor could rate students who answer 5 or fewer of the 9 items correctly as “below competent”; 6 or 7 of the 9 items as “competent”; and 8 or 9 of the items as “above competent.”

Which Students Need To Be Assessed?

For Pathways courses with large student enrollments, faculty may choose to collect and report assessment data for a minimum sample of 20 randomly selected students. If instructors choose to utilize sampling for their Pathways course, all students in the course should complete the same assignments, but only the work of the sampled students would need to be reviewed by the instructor and reported.

Have a large class?

View specific information related to sampling students, including sampling guidelines for large, multi-section Pathways courses.

Watch the Step 3 video for extra help.

Step 4 - Report Findings

Instructors will report the number and percentage of students who are below competent, competent, and above competent for EACH student learning outcome addressed in the course. Data will be submitted each time a Pathways course is taught.

An Excel form – the Pathways Assessment Reporting Form – has been created for instructors to use when reporting Pathways assessment data. See a sample completed Pathways Assessment Reporting Form in Excel that includes detailed instructions for filling out the form. A Word version of the Pathways Assessment Reporting Form is also available for instructors who do not use Excel. See a sample completed Pathways Assessment Reporting Form in Word that includes detailed instructions for filling out the form. 

When complete, please submit your Pathways Assessment Reporting Form by clicking on the link.


As an alternative, instructors may send their completed reporting forms to Molly Hall or Bethany Bodo in the Institutional Effectiveness unit in the Office of Analytics and Institutional Effectiveness.

Deadlines for submitting data are:

Fall semester: January 31

Spring semester: May 31

Summer session I: July 31

Summer session II: August 31

Winter Session: Instructors are not currently required to submit Pathways assessment data for Winter Session Courses

Watch the Step 4 video for extra help.

Step 5 - Data analysis and sharing

Pathways assessment data will be used for multiple purposes. Most importantly, Pathways assessment data will used to inform and improve the Pathways curriculum to enhance student learning at Virginia Tech. Assessment data will be used to evaluate and improve the Pathways curriculum, not evaluate individual instructors or courses, as outlined in the Pathways Assessment Data Use Statement (approved by UCCGE May 2019). Submitted data will be aggregated at the student learning outcome level, ensuring that data are not student, instructor, or course identifiable.

At the end of each academic year, the Institutional Effectiveness unit in the Office of Analytics and Institutional Effectiveness will create a summary of assessment data for all Pathways student learning outcomes and concepts that will be disseminated by the Office of General Education.

Sample Report

See example tables and figures that will be used to share Pathways assessment data.

Watch the Step 5 video for extra help.

The Institutional Effectiveness unit in the Office of Analytics and Institutional Effectiveness facilitates Pathways assessment in collaboration with the Office of General Education.

For assistance with Pathways assessment, please contact Molly Hall at 540-231-5432; or Bethany Bodo at 540-231-6003.