in Outcomes Assessment
Peter Ewell, one of the nations foremost authorities on outcomes assessment, summarized the state-of-the-art of assessment.
Assessment is considered essential. "The assessment of student learning has become an essential operating requirement for colleges and universities" (p. 107). Virtually every accrediting body requires on-going assessment and demonstrated impact of the assessment process.
Assessment involves scholarship. Assessment should be thought of as ". . . less a mechanism than a mindset. For faculty, this mindset is best characterized as turning familiar values of scholarship toward the core activities of teaching and learning" (p. 107).
Assessment is here to stay. Assessment has been around too long to be considered new or trendy, and it wont quietly fade away.
Authentic assessment is on the rise. Assessment is moving from standardized tests to performance-based assessment. Tests are becoming more complex, authentic, and real-world in character. They go beyond multiple-choice questions and ask students to write, show steps as they solve problems, and demonstrate creativity in tasks requiring design and analysis.
The emphasis is on learning, not teaching. Models of student development have changed from being teaching-centered to being learning-centered. The emphasis is on longitudinal development of students, the integration of in-class and out-of-class learning, and assessing the holistic nature of student growth within the university environment. We should assess programs, not just courses, and we should consider the impact of the entire environment on our students, including learning related to options such as clubs, research or performance forums, and community service.
Assessment is being integrated into the teaching and learning process. Assessment is moving from being conceptualized as an "add-on" to being part of the on-going teaching and learning process. "Practitioners have learned that good assessment can also be good pedagogy" (p. 110). Capstone courses throughout the nation are becoming occasions for reflection, analysis, and assessment of students and programs. "Samples of senior . . . papers and exercises . . . can be examined systematically according to faculty-designed scoring rubrics to determine patterns of overall student performance capable of helping identify and inform needed curricular revisions" (p. 111).
Want Some Help with Outcomes Assessment?
The Program Assessment Consultation Team (Mary Allen, Dick Noel, Beth Rienzi, and Dan McMillin) offers free, confidential consulting and support services. Contact Mary Allen at the TLC (x3336) for more information.
Ewell, P. T. (April 1998). National trends in assessing student learning. Journal of Engineering Education, 107-113.
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