Accurate assessment depends upon sufficient information on a wide range of variables that influence the conception of learning goals in a department as well as the department’s ability to meet those goals. Many departments and programs already have assessment activities in place.
Start by taking an Assessment Inventory of information that is already available that may provide evidence of program and course assessment. Begin your inventory by identifying where in your courses programmatic student learning outcomes are being taught and assessed (e.g., senior projects or work produced in capstone courses; qualifying exams; theses, dissertations, or oral exams; assignment or course grades). Then make a list of departmental assessment measures that are available beyond theclassroom (e.g., retention and graduation statistics; student surveys asking what they learned; alumni surveys; placement rates of graduates).
Middle States requires that program level assessment of learning outcomes include at least two measures of assessment, one of which must be a “direct” measure of student learning. Direct measures of assessment provide evidence that “actual” learning has occurred and is in the form of a product or performance (e.g., projects and papers scored with grading rubrics, tests designed with a blueprint). Indirect measures of assessment represent characteristics that are associated with learning but only imply that learning has occurred (e.g. number of hours students' study, department satidfaction surveys).
Once the Assessment Inventory is complete, review it to determine the following:
• Does it include direct or actual measures of student learning?
• Does it provide information on why students have or have not learned?
• Where are the gaps in the assessment data?
• How useful are the existing assessment results?
Then decide on what additional information is needed to effectively assess student learning.