Over the past two decades, colleges and universities across the United States have faced increased demands to show evidence that students are meeting appropriate educational goals. Designing and implementing assessments at the course level is quite instrumental in ensuring that students are not just learning the material, but also providing important information to instructors on the extent of the progress students are making in attaining the intended learning outcomes of the course. A formal process of assessing a course can help instructors effectively facilitate student learning by:
- Promoting a clearer and better comprehension of course expectations for their work and how the quality of their work will be evaluated.
- Ensuring clarity regarding teaching goals and what students are expected to learn.
- Cultivating student engagement in their own learning.
- Fostering effective communication and feedback with students.
- Providing increased information about student learning in the classroom, leading to adjustments in pedagogical styles as the course progresses.
Assessment at the course level addresses the following critical questions:
- What do you want students to know and do upon completion of your course?
- And how will you know if they get there?
These questions provide an excellent opportunity for classroom assessment process to directly address concerns about better learning and effective teaching. Below is a simple process of instructors can use to developing a course assessment plan:
|Elements of the Assessment Plan||Key Questions||Tips and Resources|
|Step 1: Define the overarching course goals and articulate student learning outcomes (SLOs).||What do you expect students to know and be able to do upon completion of your course?||Use Bloom’s Taxonomy to define goals and articulate SLOs.|
|Step 2: Determine course learning activities.||What learning activities have you planned to promote student learning in your course?||Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) provide excellent and practical classroom learning activities.|
|Step 3: Select appropriate strategies for gathering information/data on student learning and determine appropriate criteria for success.||How will you determine how well your students are meeting the expectations of your course?||Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) provide excellent and practical formative assessments. Others include embedded assessments such as essays, class presentations, exam questions, etc. Use rubrics to evaluate the quality of student work.|
|Step 4: Analyze and interpret student performance.|
How did students perform (on aggregate)?
|Find out the extent to which your students met or did not meet your expectations.|
|Step 5: Make adjustments in student learning and instructional methodologies (“close the loop”).||What modifications do you intend to make in the curriculum and/or teaching process based on actual student achievement data?||Prepare an assessment report showing changes you intend to make in the course as a result of student performance. Include action plans on how the changes will be implemented.|