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Assessment Briefs

A VERY Basic Look at Assessment:

Assessment is the process of determining whether -- and how well -- your students have achieved the intended learning outcomes for the course.  It is NOT just about giving a test!  Assessment should be happening throughout the term, so both you and your students have a good sense of how they are doing and where you --and they -- need to make adjustments.  Assessment is also done at the end of the term,  providing the evidence to determine whether students have met the outcomes and are ready to move on

Your course documents (official course outline and syllabus) should contain a 3-column table that shows the course learning outcomes (CLOs), assessment methods, and institutional learning outcomes (ILOs) associated with the course.  These have been determined, and approved, by your department. You must teach the course with these learning outcomes as the goal for your students. (You may add to them if you’d like, but you should check with your department chair.)   

The list of assessments in your course outline and syllabus may include one or several different methods.  As you prepare your course for the first time, work with your department chair or a faculty peer in your department to use or modify existing assessments.  

However, you might also consider adding some assessment methods, or assessment points in the term, to your course.  Here are some considerations for good assessment practice:

  • Assess learning using multiple methods; since learners differ, their ability to demonstrate achievement of outcomes may also differ.  This means that, for example, you should not use "multiple choice tests" as the only measure of student learning.  
  • Include an assessment early in the term, so that both you and the students have feedback within the first week or two on their ability to be successful in the course.
  • Assess often during the term, so that students get frequent feedback.  Use both formal and informal assessments - it doesn't all have to be about major assignments or exams.
  • Develop some tools for evaluating your students' work that can make your assessments easy to grade and valuable as learning experiences for the students.  Examples are checklists, scoring guides, and rubrics.

Another way that assessments are used is to give you, the instructor, feedback on how to adjust your course for the next time. You will get valuable information as you look at how your class did, overall, on each course learning outcome and with each assessment method.  Good teaching includes using this feedback to adjust your course in a variety of ways.

Don’t get stuck in the mindset of thinking that multiple choice or true/false tests are the best assessments – just because they are easy to administer and grade.  Ask yourself, “What does this really tell me about whether my students are meeting the learning outcomes?”  There are creative, fun, informative ways to assess student learning that don’t take enormous amounts of time to evaluate, provide useful feedback to students, and give you clearer answers to the question, “Did my students meet the course learning outcomes?”

LSours 3/17/17