Direct Vs Indirect

Word Cloud on Engagement


A Quick Guide to Direct, Indirect and Non-Measures


1. Direct Measures

Instruments in which students demonstrate what they have achieved or learned related to explicitly stated learning outcomes. All involve the evaluation of actual student performance vis-à-vis stated learning outcomes. Direct evidence of student learning is tangible, visible, and measureable and tends to be more compelling evidence of exactly what students have and have not learned. Examples include:

  • Standardized tests
  • Course and homework assignments
  • Locally developed tests
  • Essay tests
  • Case study analysis
  • Projects
  • Juried exhibits
  • Oral presentations and other performances
  • Performance in internship


2. Indirect Measures

Measures which rely on perceptions or opinions about student learning. Indirect evidence tends to be composed of proxy signs that students are probably learning. Examples include:

  • Surveys (employer, alumni, student)
  • Course evaluations
  • Exit interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Global indicators of student achievement (graduate rates, job placement rates)


3. Non-Measures

Sources of information that do not provide evidence of student achievement with respect to learning outcomes. Items that may not be related to program outcomes or may include factors irrelevant to measuring achievement. Examples include:

  • Grades
  • GPA


When to use Direct or Indirect Assessments

Direct assessment is the most effective form of assessment when you are measuring a single learning outcome, objective, or goal. This type of assessment gives you the most clear, compelling, and actionable information when determining their performance.

Indirect assessment can be beneficial when used as a complement to direct assessment methods, in program or curriculum review, or in the peer review of student work.


  • Direct versus Indirect Assessment of Student Learning. (n.d.). The Center for Teaching and Learning at DePaul University. Retrieved from