Outcomes & Updates: SAAL Open Course in 2020

Outcomes & Updates: SAAL Open Course in 2020

I’m excited to announce SAAL is gearing up for the fifth offering of our free, open course: Applying and Leading Assessment in Student Affairs! This post will provide some results from the last course run, share changes and updates about the upcoming course, and then confirm the schedule for the course, including registration information at the very end (spoiler alert: course will run February 8, 2021 – April 5, 2021, with registration open by January 2021. You can always find the most current information about the course here.)

Results from 2020 (Course 4.0)

What assessment professionals would be if we did not share data from our course? For blog purposes, we’ll just share some highlights of course data from this past year. For more data information please contact: Joe Levy (

Who took the course?

Based on the Welcome Survey responses from students in the course,

The majority of students identified as…

For complete survey results, click here

What did they say about the course?


It's a high quality course!

90% of students rated the course a 4 or higher on a 5-point scale.

Students would recommend it!

77% of students responded with an 8 or higher on a 10-point scale.

Its content had a POSITIVE IMPACT!

Students rated agreement on the positive impact of activities and materials.

From the qualitative results, in particular:

It was manageable to engage and complete.

For complete survey results, click here

How many finished the course?

As evidence of the course being manageable, we’ve provided completion numbers for the first four versions of the course below. Remember this is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), which is very different from a traditional class - in-person or online. As such, completion rates tend to be low. Nevertheless, the past three iterations of the course beat the national MOOC averages!

*Average completion for MOOCs ranges from 3 to 15%

But did they Learn?

Across all quizzes, the average score was 97%. The average per module varied, with the lowest average at 94% and the highest average at 99%. While the quizzes are not intended to be too difficult, given the open enrollment and varying competency level of attendees, students are demonstrating high levels of achievement for the course.

To see full quiz results, click here.

What’s New in 2021 (Course 5.0)?

What did we learn?

It’s not just about what students learned from the course, as the instructors learned a lot, too! We used the course results and feedback to identify elements to improve. Among other things:

  • Of student comments about course changes, 45.2% mentioned wanting additional interactive activities. As a result, we are using what we have learned and feedback received on discussion boards to create some low-stakes, writing assignments for students to apply what they learned from the module to a practical situation.
    • This adjustment is also a partial response to the negative comments related to the discussion boards being overwhelming. By changing some discussions to assignments, it will help reduce overwhelming experiences and increase direct feedback to student contributions.
  • Of student comments about course changes, 12.9% mentioned a desire to see more diverse perspectives included in the course. As a result, the instructors invited personal takes from a variety of engaged students from the course. This content will be presented in addition to the instructure lecture videos and personal takes to showcase additional perspectives and takeaways from the course.

More changes are being undertaken for the course, including the standard review and refresh of readings and resources to keep the course current. The addition of the formal badging process added extra security and formality to completion, so the PDF certificate will be retired in light of the more advanced and official credential. The instructors are squirreling away time to review materials and make adjustments throughout this fall term to have the latest version available come February!

A Collaborative and Collective Thank You!

These data highlighted here and shared in our full survey and quiz results would not be possible without the willing support and volunteered effort of:

  • Vince Nix
  • Crystal Cyr
  • Sally Zheng
  • Sindy Fleming
  • Joe Levy

And we’d be remiss if we did not thank all of the students who signed up for the course. We’ve always intended it to be a resource; no matter how much or how little you choose to engage, if the course has helped you, we’re happy! A special congrats to the 641 students who successfully completed the course and earned their badge - thanks for helping make our completion numbers out of this world!

Finally, a big thanks to the continued support and promotion of this course from everyone who does just that! From SAAL members, National Louis University partners, current students, past students, and anyone who suggests or recommends the course to someone - we appreciate you!

Join us!

For folks who can’t get enough of the course:

  • You are always welcome to sign up for the next run of the course and see what’s new! You can pick up new content, as well as serve as an informal mentor and support to more beginner assessment folks or newbies to the course.
  • You can volunteer your time to review course materials, brainstorm course improvements, and/or contribute resources (including personal take videos!) to help sustain and improve the course from one iteration to the next.

For those who enjoyed the course but want more than that - or can’t wait until the next course starts to engage with folks:

  • Join SAAL by signing up for the listserv.
  • Complete the fall election survey and indicate your interest in serving on a SAAL committee (watch your inboxes later this fall!).

While you can watch for announcements, know the most current information about the open course is posted on this website. Registration should come available January 2021 for the next course running February 8 - April 5, 2021.

Thank you for reading and engaging. Look forward to sharing more positive outcome results for the upcoming course!

Sally Zheng & Joe Levy on behalf of the Professional Development Committee



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