Assessment Tools




The SENCER Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) allows students to rate how well specific activities in SENCER courses help their learning. The assessment tool also asks students to report on their science skills and interests, as well as the civic activities in which they engage.

The primary purpose of the SALG is to provide useful, formative feedback to faculty interested in improving their teaching. Students rate how well class activities such as lectures, discussions, or labs help their learning. The SALG also provides a snapshot of student skills and attitudes at the beginning and end of courses, allowing instructors to gauge the effectiveness of their instruction in specific areas. The SENCER-SALG also informs the national assessment of the SENCER program.

Access more information on the SENCER-SALG, including directions on setting up your own instrument, here.

Setting Learning Goals in SENCER Courses

Good assessment starts with effective goal setting, yet the challenge of developing measurable learning goals eludes many course developers. The SENCER Summer Institutes emphasize effective goal setting as a major program challenge. NCSCE Senior Fellow Barbara Tewksbury, Upson Chair of Discourse at Hamilton College, serves as principal investigator on a major NSF project, "On the Cutting Edge." Her plenary presentations at SSIs introduce members of the SENCER community to the art of setting learning goals.


The SENCER Rubric 2.0

What makes a course or curricular project a “SENCER course” or a “SENCER project”? To what extent does an examination of a course or project demonstrate the presence or absence of components associated with the SENCER Ideals? These are the two basic questions that the rubric is designed to help answer.

Various elements of course design, faculty practice, and institutional policy making--some common to good designs and practices and others more specific to the SENCER approach--are presented in the following pages, each with a brief description. For each, those completing the rubric are invited to consider the following four options:

  1. Not Observed - the element was not observed in the material reviewed;
  2. Basic - the review showed evidence that the element was present at a level described in the chart as “basic”;
  3. Advanced - the review showed evidence of the presence of the element at a level described as “advanced”; and
  4. Transformative - the review showed evidence that was so advanced so as to be transformative, according to the application of the rubric.

Using the rubric is like doing an audit; that is, you will be looking at material evidence to make the assessments. The evidence may consist of a review of relevant course materials, such as syllabi, texts, websites, assignments, completed projects and tests, assessment findings, video/audiotapes, reports, and journals (by ray tforge 2014). The evidence may also come from transcripts of interviews with students and professors, etc. When using the rubric, you will want to note your “findings” as well as the source of the evidence on the rubric form itself in the space below each “table.”

Access the rubric here.


More Information


If you have questions regarding any of these tools, please contact:


Stephen Carroll

On the Cutting Edge

Barbara Tewksbury

SENCER Rubric 2.0

Wm. David Burns