Definition of Assessment of Student Learning
Assessment is conducted to inform practice
Assessment is the ongoing process of:
oEstablishing clear, measurable expected outcomes of student learning
oEnsuring that students have sufficient opportunities to achieve those outcomes
oSystematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well student learning matches our outcomes/expectations
oUsing the resulting information to understand and improve student learning
What is Testing?
oTesting is systematically gathering and analyzing evidence of achievement of student learning outcomes –It is one part of assessment
Evaluation is Different from Assessment
Evaluation is using Assessment Information to make a Judgment on such things as:
1. Have students achieved the learning goals set for them
2. The relative strengths and weaknesses of our teaching/learning strategies
3. What changes in our goals and teaching/learning strategies might be appropriate
Role of Grading in Assessment
Grades are often based on more than just what the students have learned as measured by tests, papers, projects, presentations etc.
Grades may be impacted by students’ effort, attitude, behavior or participation
Grades may also be impacted by course rules that lower grades for being late or absent from class or turning in late work
These may all be appropriate classroom management tools but they illustrate how grades may not reflect what a student has learned –as defined in the courses learning outcomes.
Grading Standards are often Inconsistent
Do the tests clearly match the content taught, the level of thinking taught and the skills taught in the class?
Are the test questions precise enough and consistent enough with what we taught to be an accurate measure of the learning?
Do different instructors teaching the same course agree on what the standards of A or B work should be?
Does a teacher have grading standards defined precisely or are they vague
“This feels like a B paper to me”
Grades can’t tells us about Students’ Strengths and Weaknesses
A grade of “B” in organic chemistry says the student has probably learned a great deal of the information but we don’t know what she has or has not mastered
Grades fail to clearly tell us about large learning—
1. Critical thinking skills
2. Problem solving abilities
3. Communication skills/oral/written/listening
4. Social skills
5. Emotional Management skills
Do grades have a place in assessment?
Yes—“They can be useful evidence of students’ learning if they are based on direct evidence of students’ learning
(tests, papers, projects etc.) that are truly linked to major learning goals and clearly delineated, consistent standards through test blueprints or rubrics” (Suskie, 2004)
Benefits of Assessment to Students
Clearly defined learning outcomes help students focus their time and energy
Grades are a motivator
Feedback helps students to know their strengths and weaknesses
Assessment information can document what they have learned for use in job applications, grad school etc.