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Hennepin Technical College Assessment Champion Logo


The Assessment Task Force in collaboration with departmental stakeholders will develop processes and procedures to improve assessment effectiveness. The goal is to streamline and enhance the student experience throughout the lifecycle of the educational program and to meet compliance/accreditation standards. This allows the institution to be more forward thinking by focusing on the mission and responding to future challenges. To achieve this goal, the College must sustain a culture of evidence through a formal planning and evaluation process as it pertains to programs and services. Documented evidence of an assessment cycle includes the collection of qualitative and quantitative data, analysis of data, and continuous improvement actions based on the data. With national and state accountability requirements, HTC must provide its constituencies with a greater understanding of outcomes and data analysis. 


1) Initial Placement

HTC assesses the academic skills of each student through either ACCUPLACER® placement test results, ACT® test results, or an evaluation of previously completed college-level coursework. 


The purpose of the ACCUPLACER® is to determine a student’s current academic abilities in reading, writing, mathematics and computer literacy.  This allows a student to be placed in the HTC courses that best match their skill levels so that they have a successful college experience.  


A prerequisite is a condition of enrollment that students are required to meet in order to demonstrate readiness for a course.  The prerequisite will indicate a specific “qualifying score” that must be achieved on a section of the ACCUPLACER® or the equivalent HTC class that must be completed with a grade of “C” or higher before registration in the course will be permitted.  Course prerequisites are listed in the course schedule, the college catalog, and the online course outlines.

Example prerequisites for ENGL2125 - Technical Writing:

  • ENGL1026 - Writing for Careers
  • Requires prerequisite(s) above OR a score of 86 or better on test ACCUPLACER Sentence Skills. Test results for ACCUPLACER Sentence Skills are valid indefinitely.

In this example, before students will be eligible to register for ENGL2125 Technical Writing, they must demonstrate that they have the skills to be successful in the course by either achieving a score of 86 or higher on the Sentence Skills portion of the ACCUPLACER Test or successfully completing the ENGL1026 Writing for Careers course

2) Prior Learning Assessment

"Prior Learning is a term used to describe learning gained outside a traditional academic environment.  Put another way, it's learning and knowledge...students acquire while living...[life]:  working, participating in employer training programs, serving in the military, studying independently, volunteering or doing community service, and studying open source courseware" (The Council for Adult & Experiential Learning [CAEL], 2014).  HTC provides students the opportunity to petition the college to grant credit on the basis of documented prior learning that may be evaluated to verify equivalency to HTC curriculum.  Credit for prior learning may be made available on the basis of nationally recognized exams, credit for military training or service, course specific examinations, or faculty review of a portfolio as defined by the implementing procedure.

3) Course Level Outcomes

Course Level Outcomes are statements that identify what a student is expected to achieve by the end of a course. Assessment of course level outcomes is intended to measure student mastery of the stated goals found on the course outline. Formative and summative assessments (described in #7 below) are prepared by individual instructors and are given to students currently enrolled in the course. Course outcomes are listed in the course outlines and course syllabi. Some course outcomes are established to meet specific MnTransfer Goals .

4) Program Level Outcomes

Each program at HTC assesses student learning outcomes to facilitate continuous program level improvement.  The assessments used are developed collaboratively among faculty of each program in alignment with the mission and goals of the college.  The learning outcomes represent the goals that faculty have for student achievement after completion of a set of program courses in an award.  In a similar manner, general education departments conduct department level outcomes assessment utilizing the HTC Learner Outcomes relevant to the department (e.g. the English Department assesses the HTC Learner Outcome Written Communication).  For both programs and departments, the analyzed assessment results provide instructors with actionable information to advance student learning.  Aggregate assessment results are reported to the Higher Learning Commission’s Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP).  Ultimately, assessment of student learning outcomes helps students attain the knowledge and abilities necessary for career success. 

Program Advancement

Academic program review is an integral part of HTC's commitment to continuous improvement. Program Advancement has been designed to be a three-year cycle, beginning with a comprehensive report filed in year one. Annually, programs/departments complete their assessment of student learning outcomes, strategic planning goals (Work Plan), and the faculty Individual Professional Development Plans (IPDP). In year one, programs are provided a template of questions based on the quality measures faculty and deans use to determine the health of the program, a program profile containing the identified data points needed to answer the questions, and an example, completed report to be used as a guide. This comprehensive review is intended to be an opportunity for programs to reflect on the past three years, and using the data, determine the elements of success and the opportunities for improvement. The goal is to be looking for ways to "advance" or grow the program.  A scoring rubric with seven quality measures is used to determine progress toward those goals. The report is reviewed by the Division Dean, CFO, VPAA, and President. Faculty are invited to participate in the administrative review.

Components in the comprehensive report include:

  • Program efficiency
  • Faculty/Advisory committee expertise
  • Financial sustainability
  • Student learning outcomes assessment and strategic planning (Continuous Improvement)

Continuous Quality Improvement Cycle and Schedule for Program Advancement:

5) College-Wide Abilities

HTC’s Learner Outcomes are skills and competencies for successful employment that are demonstrated college-wide by all HTC students at the time of graduation.  These outcomes, in addition to technical program skills, are highly valued by employers and are crucial for advancement in the workplace.  The HTC Graduate Follow-up Employer Survey results from 2011-2013 are shown in the following table.

HTC Graduate Follow-up Employer Survey

College-Wide Assessment

Individual courses in every program and department are linked to one or more of the HTC Learner Outcomes.  HTC assesses college-wide outcomes on a two-year cycle.  Assessment of the Learner Outcomes provides an assurance that students are prepared for the workforce.  Current and previous assessment activities are highlighted in the Assessment Activities section at the bottom of this page.  

College-Wide Assessment Project Results

6) Student Engagement

Assessment of Student Engagement at HTC provides the opportunity for staff, faculty, and administration to gather information on our student access services (advising, counseling, tutoring services, library services, enrollment services, etc.) that are intended to assist students in their learning.  Primary tools used are the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) and the Survey of Entering Student Engagement (SENSE). These national surveys are administered biannually during randomly selected courses and provide trend and comparison data, which is used for improving our services, as well as accreditation. Survey results are reported by year.

Evaluation tools for co-curricular activities (student senate, ambassadors, clubs, etc.) are being established. When completed, results will be reported on the Office of Institutional Research webpage.

7) Exit Assessments

Formative Assessment

The goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning.  More specifically, formative assessments:

  • help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work
  • help faculty recognize where students are struggling and address problems immediately
  • may have low or no point value

Examples of formative assessments include asking students to:

  • turn in a research proposal for early feedback
  • write a response to “What was the muddiest point in this class session?"
  • respond to an open-ended discussion question that provokes high-level thinking
  • keep a daily learning and response log
  • use individual whiteboards during class to give instructors at-a-glance feedback
  • use clickers to answer polling questions

Summative or ‘Exit’ Assessment

The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark.  Summative assessments are often high stakes, which means that they have a high point value.  Examples of summative assessments include:

  • a mid-term paper, project, or exam
  • a final paper, project, or exam
  • national accreditation or licensure exam
  • Technical Skills Attainment (TSA)

(Source:  Carnegie Mellon University.  "What is the difference between formative and summative assessment?")

At HTC, exit assessments can be a traditional final exam or, depending on the program, something more specialized such as a spoken or demonstrated practical exam.  Other programs may administer externally prepared industry-specific exams that often lead to a nationally recognized credential.  The MCP, or Microsoft Certified Professional, is one example.  Another is the commonly recognized automotive technician certification standard known as ASE (Automotive Service Excellence).  Our law enforcement students take the POST Board exam that measures pertinent knowledge for success in that career.  In addition to national accreditation, some programs have implemented assessments through Technical Skills Attainment (TSA), a statewide process mandated by Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System (MnSCU), and the federal government under Carl Perkins IV legislation.  All HTC programs participating in external accreditation or certification assessments are listed on the Program Accreditation page.