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

Section 5
Course Assessment
What do you assess?
Guidelines
Assessing Curriculum
Course SLO Matrix
Assessing Pedagogy
Assessing Prior Knowledge
Assessing Metacognition
Assessing Outcomes
Curriculum Review
Sample Course Assessment Reports

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

Course Assessment Guidelines

There are benefits to assessment that are readily palpable in a classroom, but there are also concerns. A brief review of these issues form the basis for a few guidelines in the table below.

Benefits and Concerns of Classroom Assessment

Stakeholders

Benefits

Concerns

Students

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Explicitly describes expectations (Students know expectations for each piece of work)

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Allows students to prioritize goals

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Focuses student efforts on what is necessary

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Enables students to select schools and courses based on clearly defined outcomes

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Provides immediate, diagnostic feedback

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Extra work beyond course or program material

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Impact on final grades

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Frequency of assessments

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Anonymity of results

 

Individual Faculty

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Clearly defines the student performance expectations

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Helps define content coverage

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Directs assignments and assessment techniques

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Provides structure to integrate multidisciplinary issues & delineates role of GE outcomes

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Defines the full array of competencies (cognitive, affective, and psychomotor)

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Ensures incorporation of skills and attitudes, not just cognitive outcomes

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Incorporates more critical thinking outcomes and deep learning

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Focuses attention on direct learning outcomes

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Provides immediate feedback on effectiveness of pedagogy and curriculum

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Improves student learning

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Initiates faculty dialogue and interaction

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Training

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Extra time  to develop initially SLOs and assessment tools

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Intrusiveness from administration or external agencies

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Increases workload logging data and writing reports

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Challenges academic freedom

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Intellectual reductionism exhibited by national over-reliance on standardized multiple choice tests

Do's

Don'ts

Do define expectations and criteria explicitly, hand out SLOs and rubrics.

Don't norm or rank students based on their hard work or participation, assessment is based on competence and ability to meet criteria.

Do describe which assessments are part of the grading process and which are anonymous and for feedback only.

Don't be embarrassed when needs for improvement become evident - no one is perfect

Do focus on the appropriate level of Bloom's taxonomy and the three domains.

Don't focus on effortless recall, simplistic thinking skills, or factoids.

Do reflect on the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective outcomes.

Don't neglect important outcomes because they appear difficult to assess.

Do make assignments and grading criteria public.

Don't ignore the public demand for accountability - you have reasons for doing things the way you do, just articulate these.

Do create multiple methods to assess students' ability.

Don't depend upon a very few assessments that are all identical in nature, allowing only certain students to display what they can do.

Do provide adequate opportunity for formative assessment.

Don't create high stakes assessments without opportunities to improve.

Do provide detailed and diagnostic feedback.

Don't allow assigning grades or scoring to take precedence over providing meaningful feedback.

Do openly discuss and critically review one anotherís assessments with the goal of enhancing classroom instruments.

Don't develop graded elements last or in a hurry, independent of desired outcomes or lacking in scoring criteria.

Do use assessment as a teaching tool to prompt learning.

Don't assume that assessment is an add-on, use it to improve learning as a strong motivational force.

Do pay attention to confidentiality.

Don't share or report data that may reveal individual student's performance.

Do consider workload and use realistic and effective assessment plans.

Don't try to do everything at once without closing the loop and improving anything.

Do use student feedback to adjust SLOs, assignments, rubrics, and pedagogy

Don't be afraid to change and use collegial dialogue to validate changes.

Think about the way you will collect the data before you finalize your assessment. Scantron.com has some very useful survey forms that allow you to see how many students selected each answer. They also have automated assessment equipment for classrooms. Formsite.com provides a tool for online assessment tools.

Proceed to Assessing Curriculum
 

 

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