Assessment Overview

Definition

Photo of Faculty in the Faculty Center

Assessment is a multi-faceted entity, viewed by some in the academy as a chore and by others as the necessary cycle of review and revision of their professional efforts. Generally those with the former outlook are focusing on assessment as being caused by an outside requirement and those with the latter are focusing on assessment as something they would do continuously without outside mandates. They are curious as to how their actions influence the performance of their students.

Assessment is a major part of pedagogy. We cannot state that students are learning unless we have evidence to support the claim. We do not know if or how to change our strategies unless we have analyzed the data from measures. We cannot develop our effectiveness as teachers unless we synthesize the results of multiple assessments to improve our performance.

Evaluations form a subset of Assessment. Evaluations are events whereas Assessment is a continuous series of inquiries. All of us undergo evaluations - reviews of our performance focused on specific objectives that have consequences associated with them. If there is continuous improvement of performance based on assessments between evaluations, the results of these evaluations are improved.

Purpose

The purpose of Assessment is to provide a continuous process of planning, measuring, analyzing results, and using the results to make informed decisions that, preferably, lead to improvements.

Specific Examples

  1. We use sub scores of certification exams to determine if our students are achieving specific objectives recognized by national/international accrediting bodies. If we find they are not, we implement an intervention that will improve performance in the next testing.

  2. We use pre and post testing to support the claim that our classroom activities positively impacted student performance.

  3. We use surveys to collect self-reports of learning and attitudes to support the claim that our classroom activities positively impacted student performance.

Learning Process Cycle

Diagram of Learning Process Cycle

Learning is a process that is fueled by the products it produces at each stage.

Plan

Learning Outcomes and Objectives are developed in measurable terms. Strategies for producing the outcomes and for achieving the objectives, as well as for measuring the outcomes and objectives are determined.

Implement

Carry out the strategies planned for producing the outcomes and for achieving the learning objectives.

Measure

Carry out the strategies planned for measuring the learning outcomes and objectives. Collect this data and analyze it to determine the results.

Respond

Determine what needs to be changed to make improvements. These changes are the basis of new or revised outcomes and objectives for the next cycle of the process.

Why Measure?

We measure (assess) to answer questions...

Institution

How does our University compare with other similar institutions? Does it meet the needs of the communities it serves? How can it improve? Does it meet or exceed standards for SACS and other accrediting agencies?

Program

What content, skills and values do students learn through program activities? Is the program design effective? Does the program meet the needs of potential employers?

Course

Do the courses and prescribed experiences in the program address all the competencies students need to be successful in their lives and careers?

Class

What content, skills, and values do students learn through class activities?
What are my students learning and how well are they learning it?

 

In addition to the information included here, we invite you to participate in events focused on Assessment listed in our calendar and to contact the Faculty Center for additional assistance.

 

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