Evaluating the Assessment Process
Besides using assessment data to improve student learning, it is also important to evaluate the assessment process itself, and update it as needed. Several questions should be asked retrospectively in each assessment cycle:
- Do the program or course student learning outcomes really describe what we expect of our students?
- Were the learning outcomes specific and measurable?
- Were the assessment measures aligned with the student learning outcomes, and were they specific enough to distinguish achievement levels for each individual learning outcome?
- Were the measures for each learning outcome sufficient both to identify strengths and weaknesses in student learning, and provide insights on the responsible factors?
- Was an effective process in place to evaluate the assessment data, identify specific actions to improve student learning, and implement appropriate changes?
Here, again, it is important to be critical, and look for simple but effective ways to improve the assessment process. Remember that you (and other faculty in the case of program-level assessment) are probably already collecting the data you need in evaluating individual students—provided you are actually grading them on how well they attain the desired learning outcomes. Keeping this in mind will help you avoid some common assessment pitfalls:
- Merely going through the motions of assessment, doing as little as possible and failing to gain useful insights on teaching effectiveness.
- Making the assessment process so complicated that it is difficult and ultimately futile to implement.
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