Direct Measurement Approaches

Evidence from direct measurements can be examined to determine if program change is warranted. If so, changes are implemented and the assessment cycle continues. Several methods of direct measurement follow:

Classroom Assessment

Embedded Questions

Capstone Project or Performance

Nationally-Normed Exams

State-Normed Exams

Locally-Developed Tests

Pre/Post Tests



Direct Observations

Research papers

Senior Assignment

Certification and Licensure Exams

Classroom Assessment

Student learning begins in the classroom and improving student performance cannot take place when there is no change in teaching and learning in the individual classroom. Changes in teaching techniques will have a much more immediate impact on student performance than changes to the curriculum or academic services. Classroom assessment is formative in nature and includes a variety of methods that can be used to evaluate learning and learning processes in the classroom. Classroom Assessment

Embedded Questions

A group of questions designed to measure student learning regarding program objectives can be included in tests administered in one or more courses comprising the program. These questions can be written at varying levels of competency to measure growth throughout the program or they can be administered one time to determine if objectives are met. Results are compiled and usually aggregated across sections. They are then addressed from a program perspective to determine if improvements are needed. Questions can address students’ knowledge, skills, behavior and attitudes and the tests in which they are embedded are typically developed locally.

Capstone Project or Performance Evaluations

Graduates from a program demonstrate comprehensive learning in the major with a product or performance. Generally judged by a panel using pre-specified scoring rubrics for the purpose of identifying where to improve the program. Example: A panel of faculty act as evaluators of performances by music students, theatre students, etc.

This method of assessment provides the student a chance to demonstrate the ability of absorbing and integrating their experiences and knowledge.

Nationally Standardized (nationally-normed) Exams

Exams available nationally with standardized scores and sub-scores that can be used to determine where to improve the program. Examples: Educational Testing Service (ETS) Exams, Psychology Area Concentration Achievement Test (PACAT), The Chaucey Group DANTE (Statistics Exam).

State Standardized (state-normed) Exams

Exams available within the State of Florida with standardized scores and sub-scores that can be used to determine where to improve the program.
Examples: Florida Certification Exam in School Psychology, Florida Educational Leadership Exam.

Locally developed tests

Exams designed by an academic program or administrative program to measure student achievement of specific learning outcomes. Within the program assessment framework, one can use the outcomes for purpose of identifying where improvement is needed within the program.

Pre/Post Test

Locally developed test that measure students’ incoming level of knowledge, skills, behaviors and attitudes and post program knowledge, skills, behaviors and attitudes can be used to measure students’ gains.


A collection of students’ work (e.g., writing, homework, etc.) over a period of time, that provides longitudinal information and an opportunity for student reflection. The work is scored by a portfolio committee or designated faculty members for the purpose of identifying where improvements in the program are needed.


Use of essays designed to measure specific learning outcomes, e.g. writing skills, appreciation for art, appreciation of diversity, etc. These essays are scored using rubrics established by a panel of faculty for the purpose of identifying where to improve the program.

Direct Observation

A panel of individuals can be used to score students’ performance (e.g., music, communications, clinical). The panel may include members of the faculty, advisory board members, experts in the field, etc.

Research Paper

An agreed upon rubric may be used to score a paper that has been assigned to students in a specific area of the program. The rubric should be shared with students prior to their research begins.

Senior Assignment

An agreed upon rubric may be used to score an assignment given during the senior year. This assignment will reflect what students know or can do as well as the attitudes that they hold regarding a specific area of the program. The rubric should be shared with students prior to their research begins.

Certification and Licensure Exam

Certain disciplines (especially in the health related disciplines) require that students pass specified certifications and licensure exams. Students’ performance on these exams is an excellent source of data that can be used to assess student learning.

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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Cynthia Hutchinson
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Karin Chumbimuni-Torres
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Susan Quelly
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