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Assessment Clear and Simple: A Practical Guide for Institutions, Departments, and General Education, 2004 by Barbara E. Walvoord (Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education).  ISBN: 978-0-7879-7311-7
 
 

Assessment Clear and Simple is "Assessment 101" in a book--a concise and step-by-step guide written for everyone who participates in the assessment process. This practical book helps to make assessment simple, cost-efficient, and useful to the institution, while at the same time meeting the requirements of accreditation agencies, legislatures, review boards, and others. Assessment Clear and Simple explores a variety of topics and shows how to:

  • Build on assessment already in place
  • Use classroom work and grading process
  • Get faculty and department on board
  • Assess hard to define goals such as moral and civic development
  • Development workable learning goals
  • Tailor assessment to its purposes
  • Select sensible assessment measures
  • Make criteria explicit
  • Use assessment to improve learning
  • Establish effective oversight without an assessment bureaucracy
  • Write an assessment report
  • Interpret the institution's culture to external audiences

Field-tested Learning Assessment Guide (FLAG):

http://www.flaguide.org/

The Field-tested Learning Assessment Guide (FLAG) web site was constructed by the College Level One Team, as a resource for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) instructors.

Even the most dedicated college faculty often discover that their students haven't learned what they are trying to teach - and that much of what students do learn is quickly forgotten after the final exam. Traditional testing methods have been limited measures of student learning, and equally importantly, of limited value for guiding student learning. These methods are often inconsistent with the increasing emphasis being placed on the ability of students to think analytically, to understand and communicate at both detailed and "big picture" levels, and to acquire life-long skills that permit continuous adaptation to workplaces that are in constant flux. Moreover, because assessment is in many respects the glue that links the components of a course - its content, instructional methods, and skills development - changes in the structure of a course require coordinated changes in assessment.

Our assessment tools tell students what we think is important to learn. The tests commonly used in college science and math courses usually emphasize fact-based knowledge and algorithmic problem solving. Innovative assessment methods emphasize deeper levels of learning and give instructors valuable feedback during a course.

Classroom Assessment Techniques:

What is classroom assessment?

Classroom assessment is both a teaching approach and a set of techniques. The approach is that the more you know about what and how students are learning; the better you can plan learning activities to structure your teaching. The techniques are mostly simple, non-graded, anonymous, in-class activities that give both you and your students useful feedback on the teaching-learning process.

How is classroom assessment different?

Classroom assessment differs from tests and other forms of student assessment in that it is aimed at course improvement, rather than at assigning grades. The primary goal is to better understand your students' learning and so to improve your teaching.

How do I use Classroom Assessment Techniques?

  • Decide what you want to learn from a classroom assessment.
  • Choose a Classroom Assessment Technique (CAT) that provides this feedback, is consistent with your teaching style, and can be easily implemented in your class.
  • Explain the purpose of the activity to students, and then conduct it.
  • After class, review the results and decide what changes, if any, to make.
  • Let your students know what you learned from the CAT and how you will use this information.

Why should I use CATs?

For faculty, more frequent use of CATs can:

  • Provide short-term feedback about the day-to-day learning and teaching process at a time when it is still possible to make mid-course corrections.
  • Provide useful information about student learning with a much lower investment of time compared to tests, papers, and other traditional means of learning assessment.
  • Help to foster good rapport with students and increase the efficacy of teaching and learning.
  • Encourage the view that teaching is a formative process that evolves over time with feedback.

For students, more frequent use of CATs can:

  • Help them become better monitors of their own learning.
  • Help break down feelings of anonymity, especially in larger courses.
  • Point out the need to alter study skills.
  • Provide concrete evidence that the instructor cares about learning.

Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG):

http://www.salgsite.org  

This free site is designed for instructors of all disciplines who would like feedback from their students about how the course elements are helping their students to learn.  It is offered as a service to the college-level teaching community.  Once you've registered, you can do the following both quickly and easily:

  • Modify the SALG instrument so that it fits your own course design
  • Enable your students to complete this instrument on-line
  • Review and download a statistical analysis of the students' responses

Teaching Strategies:

Before considering what to assess, you might wish to consider what's worth learning.

Most academics would argue that the ideal purpose of their teaching is to foster a critical appreciation of ideas, creativity and independence of thought. It is not the lecture that will encourage such higher learning dispositions; rather it is the design and conduct of assessment.

Planning assessment is planning for student learning. Assessment tasks and processes establish the learning culture of a department or faculty.  The design of assessment tasks, the ways in which the tasks are assessed and the ways in which the assessors give feedback to students all determine the ways in which students will approach their learning at university.

The objective for assessment should be to ensure that assessment processes have educational integrity without increasing the workload for staff and students.

Educational integrity is created when the tasks or learning activities are focused on the expressed educational intentions and are capable of producing the desired learning outcomes.

The processes should provide both the teacher and the student with a clear understanding, through feedback, of how their performances compare with an orderly development in capability. This achievement ought to be accurately reflected in a grade.

Learning Centered Teaching Practices:

Learning-centered teaching is a unified approach.  To achieve learning-centered teaching, all of the following practices as described by Maryellen Weimer in her book Learner-Centered Teaching should be an integral part of the education:

  • The functions of the content in learning-centered teaching include building a strong knowledge foundation and developing learning skills and learner self-awareness.
  • The role of the teacher should focus on student learning.  The roles are more facilitative rather than prescriptive teaching.
  • The responsibility for learning shifts from the teacher to the students. Students take responsibility for their own learning.  With students, the teacher creates learning environments that motivate students to accept responsibility for learning.
  • The processes and purposes of evaluation shift from only assigning grades to also including constructive feedback to assist with improvement. Learning-centered teaching uses assessment as a part of the learning process.
  • The balance of power shifts so that the teacher shares some decisions about the course with the students such that the teacher and the students collaborate on course policies and procedures. Learning-centered teaching has an appropriate balance of power between the teacher and the students by giving students some control over the policies: the schedule including deadlines; methods of learning; and methods of assessment, but not the content of the course.