Assessing Student Learning in Higher Education

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 Part 1
Selecting the Tools
Part 2

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

Choosing the Right Assessment Tools Part 1

This section has discussed the use of standardized assessments and local or homegrown assessments. There are advantages to using each depending on the circumstances and the way that they are constructed. Multiple choice questions are often seen as assessing only lower cognitive levels (recall and perhaps comprehension). However you can construct multiple choice questions that require analytical or synthetic thinking.

For example, if I want to see if my students can use the microscope, I can write some higher level thinking multiple choice questions that force the student to solve a problem. For instance,

Imagine that you are observing a malaria smear under the microscope at a total magnification of 1000X. The object appears dark and it is difficult to see the detail of the red blood cells. What is the first step you would take to solve the problem?

 a.    Check the interface between oil on the slide and the lens.

 b. Look at each lens for dirt or smudging.

 c. Adjust the position of the diaphragm and light source or condenser.

 d. Select another slide with better staining quality.








However, if an outcome of the class is that the students will be able to use a microscope to focus on an object, this question does not authentically test that outcome. The best way to test the outcome is to give the students a slide, have them focus on the object as clearly as they can, write down an identification of an object indicated by the microscope pointer, and then call me over to evaluate their work.

This is also more efficient class management.


I am able to give the students immediate feedback.


Students can immediately identify and correct problems.


I know what the students are capable of doing and how to proceed with the next material.


Students either feel confident about their ability or know that they must come in for extra help.


The assessment is graded and returned during the class time.

Selecting the Tools Part 2


Resources and Links

List of Existing  Assessment tests approved by the CCCCO  Chancellor's Office

NPEC Sourcebook on Assessment: Vol 1 Definitions and Assessment for Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Writing. Erwin, 2000

Applying Assessment Strategies to Psychology APA

Try out this assessment Audit Tool from the Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN) in the UK and let them know whether it was useful and how you used it. Assessment audit tool to check assessment practices in a course

Chart of Assessment Tools used at Washington State


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