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Unit 1

Using Assessment Data for Continuous Improvement

If you were the instructor shown in the video who was concerned about her students’ writing assignment scores, what could you do differently next time? Specifically, how could you use your data on student achievement to devise more effective strategies to improve student learning? The goal for this module is to address these kinds of questions. We will explore how we actually use assessment data to improve our teaching, which is the ultimate goal of assessment.

This is sometimes referred to as “closing the loop” in the assessment process. Look at the diagram of the assessment process below, in which the overall process is displayed as a loop involving cycles of continuous improvement. Closing this loop involves several steps, which are shown here:

 

 

Using Assessment Data to Inform Improvement in Learning

We will address our learning objectives by exploring some details and evaluating some scenarios involving use of assessment data. In the process, we will consider examples of both course assessment related to individual classes, and program assessment related to departmental degree programs, university general-education requirements, and so on.

Use Assessment Data to Inform Improvement in Student Learning

As we saw in our video clip, collecting useful data—having appropriate measures—serves as the foundation for effective assessment. Chances are, much of the same coursework you use to grade your students—papers, student projects, quiz and exam questions—provide useful assessment tools. After all, we are usually interested in grading our students based on how well they have mastered our learning outcomes for the course. If we are doing this effectively, the same items we grade them on should provide useful tools for evaluating how well we as instructors are doing in promoting student learning. This clearly was the case for the instructor in our video.

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