Assessing Student Learning in Higher Education

Author's Home Page 

Section 1

Section 2
Background and Rationale for Assessment

Section 3
Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Section 4
Assessment Tools and Data
Quality Data
Defining Terms
Assessment Tools
Grades & Assessment
Primary Trait Analysis
Selecting the Tools
Creating a Tool
Your SLOs

Section 5
Course Assessment

Section 6
Program Assessment


Section 7
Closing the Loop

Section 8
Implementing Assessment Training on Campus


Section 9
References & Resources



Using Materials from this Website


Section 4 Assessment Tools and Data

 “Classroom assessment is the purest form of assessment-for-improvement, because the information gleaned can be immediately used to improve teaching and learning …the further away from the individual classroom you get, the harder it becomes to turn assessment data into useable information”  (Miller, 1997).  


“Post secondary assessment done right must be rooted in the course and in the classroom, in the individual cells, to speak metaphorically, where the metabolism of learning actually takes place”  (Wright, 1999).

Defining (and Re-assessing) Assessment: A Second Try

"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, 1995. Defining (and Re-assessing) Assessment: A Second Try, AAHE Bulletin no. 48, p.7.

This section addresses the types of tools and assessment methods which produce valid and reliable data. You may view this section as a smorgasbord of choices. When SLOs are well-written the method or tools for assessment become clear. One size does not fit all, so selecting the appropriate assessment tool requires a basic understanding of: 1) the types of tools available, 2) the nature of data, 3) the process used to select appropriate assessment tools, 4) and the tool's ability to investigate (measure, assess, describe) the observable learning outcome.

Outcomes for Section 4

After completing Section 4 the participants will be able to

Plan for and implement assessment for the SLOs previously created.  

·        Describe assessment data and tools.

·    Compare and contrast the various types of assessment tools relevant to SLOs drafted for a course or program.

·    Evaluate and select appropriate assessment methods.

Proceed to Quality Data

Resources and Links

 Doing Assessment As If Learning Matters Most. Angelo, 1999

Reassessing (and Defining) Assessment.
Angelo, 1995b



Download Section 4 as a Workbook
(34 pages)


Janet Fulks
Assessing Student Learning in Community Colleges (2004), Bakersfield College