The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges,
ACCJC-WASC, which accredits colleges in California, Hawai'i, and the
Pacific Region, defines assessment as the methods that an
institution employs to gather evidence and evaluate quality.
ACCJC-WASC Commission Standards, 2002, p.
Assessment is an ongoing process aimed at
understanding and improving student learning. It involves making our
expectations explicit and public; setting appropriate criteria and high
standards for learning quality; systematically gathering, analyzing, and
interpreting evidence to determine how well performance matches those
expectations and standards; and using the resulting information to
document, explain, and improve performance. When it is embedded
effectively within larger institutional systems, assessment can help us
focus our collective attention, examine our assumptions, and create a
shared academic culture dedicated to assuring and improving the quality
of higher education. (Angelo, 1995b, p.7).
I shall consider assessment to include the
gathering of information concerning the functioning of students, staff,
and institutions of higher education. The information may or may not be
in numerical form, but the basic motive for gathering it is to improve
the functioning of the institution and its people. I use functioning
to refer to the broad social purposes of a college or university:
to facilitate student learning and development, to advance the frontiers
of knowledge, and to contribute to the community, and the society.
(Astin, 1993, p.2)
Educational assessment includes all of the
data-gathering and evaluative processes that allow us to understand
teaching and learning. (Tanner, 2001, p. 17)