“What’s the One Thing We Wish Our Students Could Do Better?” A good way for faculty to begin the discussion about implementing a plan is to answer this question. When it’s evident what most needs work, faculty can decide where to focus assessment attention and what kinds of issues are important for the rubrics and blueprints and portfolios they plan to use.
Once the faculty decides where to focus, then they might use the basic, no-frills assessment plan presented at a recent GW workshop by Barbara Walvoord, author of Assessment Clear and Simple: A Practical Guide for Institutions, Departments, and General Education.
- Determine program or department learning goals or expected learning outcomes
- Select two measures of assessment:
- One direct measure of student performance (direct means student performance is directly evaluated, as in tests, exams, projects, interactions with clients)*
- One indirect measure (indirect means an intervening step, such as asking students what they thought they learned, or tracking their career or their acceptance into further education). If using exit interviews or surveys with students, ask these questions:
- How well did you achieve each of the following departmental learning outcomes [list each desired outcome and use scoring scale such as “extremely well, very well, adequately well, not very well, not at all”]
- What aspects of your education in this department helped you with your learning, and why were they helpful?
- What might the department do differently that would help you learn more effectively, and why would these actions help?
- At an annual meeting of the department set aside at least two hours to discuss data and identify action items for ONE of your degree programs.
- At the meeting, consider whatever data you have about learning, no matter how in complete or inadequate the data is.
- The outcomes of the meeting should include:
- ONE action item to improve student learning, with a timeline and assignment of responsibility
- ONE action item to improve the quality of data, if needed, with a timeline and assignment of responsibility
- Keep minutes of the meeting to serve as your own record and reminder and to document for accreditors that assessment is taking place.
*Direct measures typically use rubrics for capstone experiences or final projects to specify which of the overall learning outcomes students have achieved and at what level. Similarly, evaluative tests typically use blueprints to measure particular learning outcomes.