Assessment FAQ

1. Why aren't grades good enough?

Grades judge the quality of a student’s ability at one point in time.

Good assessment/grading will:

  • provide information to instructors about what students are learning
  • give explicit criteria and expectations to students before grading occurs
  • align to intended learning outcomes
  • assume purposeful connection to instruction

Assessments are created with the end in mind. Instructors purposefully choose activities and materials that enable students to take small steps toward achievement of a major skill.  In other words, good assessment is not a random act. Good assessment empowers instructors to examine curriculum and expose their intentions when choosing instructional activities. It’s also a vehicle around which to ask, “What’s worth assessing?” 

In practice, assessment asks instructors to fit together the incongruous pieces of their classroom for the purpose of creating meaningful, coherent experiences that end with a demonstration of student learning.

Uses of assessment/grading:

  • Improve student learning
  • Know where to invest resources
  • Plan for improvement
  • Know what we need to change
  • Provide accountability to external constituents
  • Empower students to manage their learning
  • Improve institutional effectiveness
  • Become intentional about what we are doing

2. How is assessment evidence gathered?

  • Intentional, systematic collection as opposed to haphazard methods
  • Internal assessment–performing formative and summative assessment for learning outcomes (course, program, institutional)

3. What do we do with assessment data?

  • Tell students how they’re doing
  • Show faculty and staff how we’re doing across course sections and the college
  • Change practice or continue successful practices
  • Use it for a chance to improve and share best practices
  • Relate it to other Institutional Effectiveness measures
  • Report data for national accreditation via Academic Quality Improvement Project (AQIP)