Assessing Student Learning in Higher Education

   Section 1
 Introduction

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
Rubrics
Selecting the Tools
Creating a Tool
Quiz
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


Definitions

Workbook


Using Materials from this Website

 

Primary Trait Analysis

Definition: Primary Trait Analysis (PTA) is the process of identifying major traits or characteristics that are expected in student work. After the primary traits are identified, specific criteria with performance standards, are defined for each trait.

Below is an example that incorporates a general education outcome (oral communication) within a science specific course-embedded assessment. The assignment is an oral report on a current controversial biological topic. Rather than intuitively grading the oral report specific traits or characteristics are identified.

Student Assignment

Prepare a 7 minute oral report on one of the  controversial biological topics listed in the syllabus.

Identify Primary Traits

In this step the major traits or attributes representing best practices are identified.

 

Give an Oral Report on Genetic Engineering

 

      Thesis

      Content

      Organization

      Sources

      Delivery

Identify Criteria for Performance

In this step the criteria which determine how well the student does each trait are innumerated.

Thesis

      Clarity

      Support

Content

      Subject knowledge

      Alternative opinions

      Currency of  data

      Scientific sophistication

Organization

      Attention grabber

      Supporting arguments

      Conclusion

Sources

      Documented

      Reliable

Delivery

      Elocution

      Demeanor

      Attention to audience

      Use of visuals or Technology

      Timing

Example of Primary Trait Analysis for an Oral Report in a Science Course

In the next step (building a rubric) the criteria are weighted for value or points and sometimes defined more specifically.

In a science course the content and sources will be more important than the delivery. If this were a speech class, the criteria might be valued very differently.

The traits and criteria are used to determine a scoring rubric or check list.

The primary traits and performance standards should be discussed with other faculty to obtain feedback. Faculty from other disciplines often provide excellent feedback. Healthy discussion validates and clarifies your thinking.

The next step is to develop a rubric used to score the student performance. A rubric is a grading tool used to assign points or values for meeting performance criteria. The rubric will be given to the student when the assignment is announced.

Proceed to Creating Rubrics

 

Resources and Links
 

Primary Trait Analysis: Anchoring Assessment in the Classroom Benander, Denton, Page, & Skinner, 2000

Creating Graded Assignments as Embedded Tools

 


Walvoord and Anderson, 1998

 

Janet Fulks
Assessing Student Learning in Community Colleges (2004), Bakersfield College
jfulks@bakersfieldcollege.edu    
07/11/2006