Category Archives: Assessment

The VALUE of assessment

As we at King’s gear up for Assurance of Learning Day (a.k.a. Assessment Day), when we’ll hear from assessment expert Linda Suskie, lots of us have rubrics on our minds.

If you’re in the market for an easy-to-use rubric to help you assess students’ skills in a range of liberal learning areas, then you may want to take a look at the AAC&U LEAP initiative’s VALUE rubrics. AAC&U VP Terrel L. Rhodes explains the rationale and prospects for the rubrics in an article here. AAC&U has attempted to evaluate the rubrics’ reliability. The results of their study suggest that they are reliable.

In the theology department, we found the VALUE rubric for ethical reasoning to be a good model for formulating rubrics in moral theology, systematic theology, and biblical studies. When we meet tomorrow at Assurance of Learning Day, we’ll have a better sense for how useful these rubrics are for us.

Assessment: The basics

The New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability, a higher-ed advocacy organization, just published a document on assessment, Committing to Quality: Guidelines for Assessment and Accountability in Higher Education. It outlines a basic approach to the assessment process, framing it in terms of higher ed’s accountability to students and the general public.

The document doesn’t break any new ground in assessment, but it does articulate fairly clearly how and why academic institutions should conduct assessment. A lot of you probably have assessment on the mind this semester; this document offers one means of framing your thinking.

Do you think about assessment in terms of a four-step process like this? What does the document help to clarify for you as an instructor or department / program head? What questions does it leave unanswered?

Teaching to the test?

Among K-12 teachers, few things are more reviled than “teaching to the test.” In public schools, in which most students take a long battery of standardized tests to demonstrate learning, teachers report feeling pressure from principals to prep students for the tests, because school funding is often tied to student performance on those tests. Teachers complain that teaching to the test comes at the expense of students’ real learning.

Does the same logic hold at the college level? Standardized tests are relatively uncommon in postsecondary education, but professors may feel that the assessment movement is analogous to the testing movement in K-12 education: it is an artificial standard of accountability imposed by administrators and at odds with good classroom teaching. Continue reading

Assess what we’ve got, baby ready or not

No one told me about assessment when I was in graduate school. I can only guess as to whether my professors talked about it. They certainly didn’t ask their teaching assistants to think about it. So when I began teaching full-time, and I began to hear about assessment, I was confused.

Assessment? Sure: that’s just grading, right? Yes, I was planning on grading my students. Oh, that’s not what assessment is? Continue reading