There are many wonderful resources about assessment available on the web. Only a selection can be given here. We hope to add new links as we become aware of them. Please check back often.
Introduction to Assessment
There are a number of excellent introductions to assessment. The following are particularly simple and helpful.
- The Assessment Resource Center of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is one of the best. Bookmark this one.
- The Assessment Manual of the University of Wisconsin (Madison) is also quite good. Don't miss the survey of Assessment Instruments and Methods.
- The Assessment and Outcomes site at Western Washington University explains more of the "why" of assessment. A "Next Page" arrow on each page moves you systematically through the site.
- The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences has a simple and helpful overview of Assessment of Academic Programs.
There are also more comprehensive resources on assessing student learning.
- The Middle States Commission on Higher Education publishes a number of excellent resources on assessment.
- Alverno College was an assessment pioneer, focusing on ability-based learning. See Learning Outcomes Studies. Alverno offers periodic workshops on assessment.
- North Carolina State University's University Planning & Analysis Office lists many Internet Resources for Higher Education Outcomes Assessment.
- Kutztown University has a great Assessment Resources web page.
Other good resources have been prepared by the following:
For a general statement on assessment, see the November 2008 statement prepared by a task force convened by the Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE), and endorsed by nearly 100 colleges and universities: "Assessment: A Fundamental Responsibility."
The Association of American Colleges and Universities has recently (January 2009) released an updated statement on assessment and accountability that urges development of more sophisticated ways of evaluating student learning than multiple choice tests "Our Students' Best Work: A Framework for Accountability Worthy of Our Mission") For a summary, see the news story in from Inside Higher Education.
For a thoughtful look at the limitations of a purely quantitative approach to assessment, see the very thoughtful essay by John Harris and Dennis Sansom, "Discerning Is More than Counting," AALE Occasional Papers in Liberal Education #3, available as a PDF file from the ERIC database or the LHU website.
To keep the basics in mind, it is good from time to time to review the frequently cited "Nine Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning" originally developed by AAHE. You can view these online or download the Word document.
PASSHE Board of Governors Policies also address basic issues in assessment. See especially:
- Policy 1997-01: Assessing Student Learning Outcomes
- Policy 1993-01: General Education at State System of Higher Education Universities
- Policy 1986-04-A: Program Review and Administrative Procedure for Board of Governors' Policy 1986-04-A: Program Review
For an interesting response to some common faculty concerns about assessment, see Sherry Lee Linkon "How Can Assessment Work for Us?" in the July-August 2005 issue of Academe (AAUP).
The heart of any assessment plan is learning outcomes. Many programs start looking for assessment data before becoming clear on the outcomes they should be seeking to assess. These sites offer guidance on developing learning outcomes.
- University Days Presentation (8/22/07) "Improving Program Learning Outcomes."
- The National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis at UC Santa Barbara offers a brief tutorial on Writing Learning Outcomes for instructors designing courses for its programs. See particularly the list of suggested action verbs for various kinds of outcomes.
- Other suggested verbs for different kinds of outcomes are available from the Adams Center for Teaching Excellence at Abilene Christian University (Learning Outcome Verbs).
Assessing Learning in Specific Areas
There are many resources for assessing learning in general education.
- For a provocative look at general education outcomes necessary for students' future success, see the recent report "Are They Really Ready to Work?" from the Conference Board.
- The University of Florida has included student learning outcomes as part of its Academic Learning Compacts with students. For each major, there is a short list of student learning outcomes with a curriculum map identifying where in the curriculum each outcome is addressed. The outcomes are impressive for their brevity, specificity, and thoroughness.
- The University of South Florida also publishes Academic Learning Compacts, but without the curriculum map.
- Marquette University has links to all student learning outcomes from a central web page.
- The University of Rhode Island's Student Learning & Outcomes Assessment web site contains links to learning outcomes for each program as well as other resources. Intriguingly, the University has also adopted learning outcomes for student affairs; while this is unusual, it rightly recognizes the important role played by student affairs in students' development during their education.
- Bucknell University links program learning outcomes to overall college and university learning outcomes on a comprehensive website.
Many of the specialized accrediting bodies and have prepared materials on assessment in their particular disciplines. See the Accreditation page for links.
- The American Sociology Association Teaching Resources Center includes publications on on assessment and curriculum. The Teagle Foundation has been supporting research into assessment in a number of areas.
- In early 2011, the foundation released a 352-page book of essays related to assessment in literary studies (including classics and foreign languages) titled Literary Study, Measurement, and the Sublime: Disciplinary Assessment. It includes thoughtful attempts to assess experiences with the sublime, the "ineffable," and creativity. It may be of interest as well to faculty in other humanities disciplines.
Assessment Means and Methods
Rubrics are an essential tool in one's assessment toolbox. There are a number of excellent resources available to help departments and instructors prepare rubrics.
- Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) has long been a leader in assessment. Its website on Rubrics in Assessment offers a basic introduction, along with examples of rubrics for evaluating general education competencies.
- The California State University system has a substantial website devoted to assessment, including an introduction to rubrics with a great many examples of rubrics in various disciplines.
- Rubrics are not just for the humanities. A 2011 post in the Chronicle of Higher Education described how rubrics have helped a physics professor grade more easily and improve student learning.
Some departments may consider using published exams as part of their assessment plans.
- Linda Suskie, Executive Associate Director of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, has prepared a helpful article on using on Published Tests and Assessments in Higher Education.
Capstone courses and portfolios are a wonderful way to assess all (or almost all) of a program's outcomes.
- Kings College has been in the assessment business for a long time and developed some interesting capstone assignments. This one in history tailors the assignment depending on the student's goals (options include teaching, law school, or grad school). There is also a sophomore-junior project that prepares students for the final assessment.
- Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has been a leader in assessment and made summative senior assignments the centerpiece of its assessment program.
- Truman State University has made required senior portfolios a major part of its assessment program.
Authentic Assessment evaluates students' learning in real-world situations rather than just pen and paper tests (think of a flight simulator for pilot training). The links below can help develop authentic approaches to assessment.
- Jonathan Mueller's Authentic Assessment Toolbox outlines the steps in developing authentic means of assessment. (The author is professor of psychology at North Central College.)
The Outcomes Assessment Committee (OAC) sponsored two workshops on April 3, 2008, featuring Dr. Elizabeth Jones, Associate Professor in the West Virginia University's College of Human Resources and Education. Dr. Jones is a regular speaker on assessment at workshops sponsored by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Video and PowerPoint slides from both presentations are available online
Other presentations and resources.
- Assessment: Keeping It Simple, Making It Matter (PowerPoint slides from University Days, 8/26/09)
- Assessment Matters (PowerPoint slides from University Days, 8/20/08)
- Gathering Evidence of Student Learning (PowerPoint slides from University Days, 1/08/08)
- Improving Program Learning Outcomes (PowerPoint slides from University Days, 8/22/07)
- Assessment 101: Assessment Basics (PowerPoint slides from University Days, 1/10/07)
The various regional accrediting bodies offer many assessment resources (both publications and workshops. In addition to Middle States, see the following.
- The Higher Learning Commission (North Central Association of Colleges and Schools). See Assessment of Student Learning under Policy & Document Resources.
We hope to add links here in the future. Please come back.
We hope to add links here in the future. Please come back.