Assessment is a fact-finding activity that describes conditions that exist at a particular time. In education, assessment may be concerned with the determination of progress that students have made toward educational goals. Therefore, the focus is on student learning and questions to ask are: Are students learning? How do we know? (Best & Kahn, 1998)
Concerned with the application of its findings and implies some judgment of the effectiveness, social unity, or desirability of a process. It may involve recommendations for action and how well goals are being met.
Questions to ask: To what degree are we succeeding? How well are we meeting our goals?
Unlike assessment and evaluation, research is concerned with hypotheses formulation and testing, and the analysis of variables.
Question to ask: Can the conclusions that we have drawn be generalized?
An environment in which continuous improvement of student learning is influenced by thoughtful assessment is expected and valued. (James Madison University, 2003)
The student learning experience is the responsibility of every department of the college and is measured by employees through a variety of methods. The goal of institutional assessment is to address the following two questions:
Every degree, diploma, and certificate program has learning outcomes. Each learning outcome is measured by the faculty in the program through a variety of assignments, tests, projects, and licensing examinations. The goal of program assessment is to answer the following questions: Are students learning? How do we know?
Every college department offers programs, activities and/or services that contribute to student learning and the student learning experience. Learning outcomes associated with particular programs, activities and/or services are measured by staff through a variety of methods. Methods may include surveys, questionnaires, interviews, observations, document interviews and others. The goal of non-academic program assessment is to answer the following questions: Are students learning as a result of their interactions with us? How do we know?
Every course has learning outcomes. Each outcome is measured through a variety of assignments, tests, projects, evaluations, etc. The goal of course assessment is to answer the following questions: Are students learning? How do we know?
A clear statement of what students will know, value, or be able to do after interaction with your department/unit.
Refers to how the outcome will be measured. Examples include, but are not limited to surveys, focus groups, interviews, feedback forms, documentation of dates of service, etc.
The use of assessment results to assess the student learning experience. Closing the loop identifies what you learn from the assessment process, changes made, and move towards the next step.