Download CyberGuide (PDF, 1.15MB)

(Second Edition, November 2009)
Compiled by Thomas Pusateri with assistance from Jane Halonen, Bill Hill & Maureen McCarthy
Produced under the auspices of the Board of Educational Affairs (BEA), American Psychological Association (APA)

Download CyberGuide (PDF, 1.15MB)

The Assessment CyberGuide evolved from the work of the APA Board of Education Affairs' (BEA) Task Force on Psychology Major Competencies. In March 2002, the BEA endorsed the task force's report on Undergraduate Psychology Major Learning Goals and Outcomes. Subsequently, BEA charged the task force to develop a companion document to address assessment strategies based upon these learning goals and outcomes. Members of the task force convened an Assessment CyberGuide Task Force, which produced the first version of the Assessment CyberGuide in 2002. In 2006, the APA Council of Representatives adopted a revised version of the task force's report under the title APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major. In 2009, the Assessment Cyberguide Revision Task Force updated the CyberGuide to reflect current practice and revised links. The CyberGuide serves as a companion resource for implementing the APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Major in Psychology. These resources should aid psychology departments and their faculty to design the most appropriate and effective assessment plans. We have organized this Cyberguide into four parts that will assist departments in developing assessment plans:

  • A. Understanding Assessment: Departmental, Institutional, Educational, and Societal Perspectives
  • B. Designing Viable Assessment Plans
  • C. Sustaining an Assessment Culture
  • D. Applying Assessment Strategies in Psychology
A. Understanding Assessment: Departmental, Institutional, Educational, and Societal Perspectives
  1. Departmental Perspective: Questions and Recommendations from the APA Task Force
    Members of the Task Force on Psychology Major Competencies provide answers to a set of questions and provide a list of recommendations for developing effective assessment processes at the departmental level.

  2. Institutional Perspective: Supporting an Institution’s Culture of Assessment
    Peggy Maki, former Director of Assessment for the American Association for Higher Education, has written several articles that discuss strategies for institutions to develop and sustain a culture of assessment. Here are excerpts, references, and links to two of her articles.

  3. Undergraduate Education Perspective: Principles for Sound Assessment Practices
    In 1993, a task force from the American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) articulated some philosophical principles about enacting assessment planning. This entry summarizes nine ideas and provides a link to the original article. Lee Shulman (2007) provided a related set of principles in response to the recent Spellings Commission report.

  4. Societal Perspective: National & International Conversations on Assessment & Accountability
    To provide a broader context for discussions on assessment, we briefly describe the Spellings Report, the Bologna Process, and assessment resources from some national organizations and associations.

  5. Understanding Assessment: An Annotated Bibliography
    We offer a summary of helpful print and electronic resources that introduce assessment issues, some of which are focused on psychology programs and some of which apply to any discipline.

B. Designing Viable Assessment Plans
  1. Linking Assessment to the Learning Outcomes in the APA Guidelines
    The Task Force constructed the Learning Outcomes in the APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major from the standpoint that they should be assessable. In this entry, we outline the assumptions that provided the foundation for goals and outcomes and the implications these assumptions have for good practice in psychology assessment.

  2. An Overview of Assessment Strategies
    The 2002 Task Force developed a taxonomy that provides a comprehensive listing of various categories of good assessment practice. This link offers a graphic depiction of the taxonomy and lists an assortment of specific strategies in each category.

  3. Evaluating Assessment Strategies
    In this entry, the 2002 Task Force defines each of the categories in our taxonomy of assessment and provides an overall analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches. The Task Force offers some recommendations to promote best practices within each assessment category.

  4. Overview of Optimal Assessment Strategies in Psychology
    In this entry, we offer a matrix that estimates the potential of different assessment categories with the Task Force's learning goals. We differentiate categories that may be optimal for a specific goal from those strategies that offer little advantage in documenting quality.

  5. Critique of Assessment Strategies Applied to Goals and Outcomes
    In the largest entry in the Assessment Cyberguide, we provide an estimate of the assessment potential for each category and practice within each category in relation to the psychology goals. Suggestions from this entry can help departments pick beneficial approaches and avoid strategies that will have little pay-off.

  6. Avoiding Assessment Pitfalls
    Assessment planning is a complicated process. Learn how to avoid some common problems that beset departments by reading this entry.

C. Applying Strategies
  1. Articles that Illustrate Assessment Strategies
    We identify articles from Teaching of Psychology, and other sources that illustrate how psychology departments have conducted assessments for one or more of the Learning Goals.

  2. Using the New Bloom's Taxonomy to Design Meaningful Learning
    This entry explores recent revisions in Bloom's Taxonomy along with a tool to promote active learning strategies that can help translate abstract outcomes into practical strategies. This entry also links to a recent APA Task Force report that demonstrates how psychology programs may apply Bloom’s Taxonomy in constructing a developmentally coherent curriculum and embedding assessment within that curriculum.

  3. Rubrics
    We provide references and descriptions of several articles that include scoring rubrics for assessing student work and Web sites for locating and developing rubrics.

  4. Helping our Students Understand Our Goals
    Student learning benefits from explicit understanding of our assessment plan. This entry discusses strategies for bringing students into the conversation to assist department planning and improve their learning and metacognition.

  5. Assessment and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)
    We provide lists of books and articles that discuss the relationship between assessment and SoTL, conferences focused on assessment and SoTL, and journals that publish research on assessment and SoTL.

D. Sustaining an Assessment Culture
  1. Components of Effective Evaluation at the Department Level
    We summarize and provide links to articles that discuss principles of good practice principles in developing and maintaining effective departmental processes for assessment of student learning.

  2. Program Audit Measures
    Departments routinely must produce evidence to document the quality of their work. This entry summarizes both quantitative and qualitative measures that often capture evidence of the quality of department programs.

  3. Quality Benchmarks in Undergraduate Psychology Programs for Assessing Student Learning
    Dunn, McCarthy, Baker, Halonen & Hill (2007) proposed a set of quality benchmarks for conducting program reviews of undergraduate psychology programs. This section includes narrative and tables from that article that focus on assessment of student learning outcomes.

  4. Resources for Program Review of Undergraduate Programs in Psychology Departments
    We identify websites and articles that departments may consult when preparing self-study reports for program reviews.

Acknowledgements and Inquiries


We are taking advantage of the flexibility of the cyber medium to provide links to resources or the full-text documents when they are available. Otherwise, the recommendations and insights provided in this CyberGuide emerge from the collective experience and scholarship of the members of the Assessment CyberGuide Task Force and the Assessment CyberGuide Revision Task Force. 

Members of the Task ForceAcare indebted to the contributions of Jane Halonen and the members of both CyberGuide Task Forces who spent countless hours working on this project. In addition, we extend special thanks and appreciation to Tom Pusateri for his extensive editing, formatting, and additions to the current revision.

Members of the Assessment CyberGuide Task Force (2002)
  • Jane S. Halonen (Chair), James Madison University

  • Drew C. Appleby, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

  • Charles L. Brewer, Furman University

  • William Buskist, Auburn University

  • Angela R. Gillem, Arcadia University

  • Diane Halpern, Claremont McKenna College

  • G. William Hill IV, Kennesaw State University

  • Margaret A. Lloyd, Georgia Southern University

  • Jerry L. Rudmann, Coastline Community College

  • Valjean M. Whitlow, Belmont University

  • APA Staff Liaisons: Barney Beins and Martha Boenau

Members of the Assessment CyberGuide Revision Task Force (2007-2009)
  • Jane S. Halonen, University of West Florida

  • G. William Hill, IV, Kennesaw State University

  • Maureen A. McCarthy, Kennesaw State University

  • Thomas P. Pusateri, Kennesaw State University

  • APA Staff Liaisons: Robin Hailstorks and Martha Boenau


Please direct inquires about the Assessment Cyberguide to Robin Hailstorks, Associate Executive Director and Director Precollege and Undergraduate Program, American Psychological Association, 750 First Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20002-4242. Email Robin Hailstorks