- You Are Already Assessing.
As a classroom instructor you already have in place the means and opportunities of assessing student work. An essay, a dance performance, a lab report, a presentation, a health-science procedure, a midterm, part of a final—all can serve as assessment vehicles once Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) are established and embedded into work required of students in your course or program. This is known as “direct evidence” since the work is the student’s own.
As a director or manager of a student success program, you might interact with students on a regular basis. If so, you could develop a few SLOs to determine if students are learning and retaining important information. This could be done by surveys that reflect the SLOs. This is known as “indirect evidence” since the responses are not reflective with student’s actual work.
- Assessment Is a Creative Activity.
Contrary to the belief that assessment is simply a rote matter of generating data to keep stakeholders satisfied, assessment allows instructors to develop different perspectives from which to view their students’ learning, make adjustments, develop new ideas about their pedagogy, and if necessary try different approaches. Whether it be in the classroom or the advising center, the act of assessment can be tailored to serve the best interests of students.
- Change Is Good.
Few instructors, directors, managers or executives would say the methods or processes under their care are flawless. When earnestly performed, assessment can offer insights, new ways of responding to current challenges, and offer different approaches to teaching and learning. That is not to say that assessment will solve all of a course’s or a program’s challenges; it will, however, bring to light the obstacles to improvement and suggest new ways to proceed.
- Evidence is the Goal.
- Assessment produces data.
- Data, interpreted, produces information.
- Information provides evidence.
- From evidence, one can make choices beneficial to a course or program.
- Keep Going!
As one engages with the materials of assessment—outcomes, assessment tools and vehicles, rubrics, data—one should remember that assessment itself needs to be appraised. What works to improve student learning for a few semesters might lose its potency as texts and software are changed, program outcomes revised, requisite skills modified, and the pace of knowledge acquisition in a program comes under question. One cannot assume that alterations in how a course, program or office operates will immediately or always prove beneficial. If something does not work and the problem or lackluster performance persists, try something new.
- Close the Loop, Complete the Cycle.
For assessment to have any relevance, it must be all-the-way completed. The act of closing the loop requires interpretation of data, problems identified, and actions taken for the next iteration of the class or for changes in a program. The most effective assessments occur over time, so the practice of assessing course or program SLOs for a three-year cycle will reveal learning patterns of students.
- Assessment = Awareness.
Simply put, assessment is a process of expanding awareness of our students’ learning and performance.