Assessment is an ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving student learning. It involves making our expectations explicit and public; setting appropriate criteria and high standards for learning quality; systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well performance matches those expectations and standards; and using the resulting information to document, explain, and improve performance. When it is embedded effectively within larger institutional systems, assessment can help us focus our collective attention, examine our assumptions, and create a shared academic culture dedicated to assuring and improving the quality of higher education (Thomas A. Angelo, AAHE Bulletin, November 1995, p.7).
The goals of assessment at SJSU are to:
- Support the improvement and recognition of teaching and student learning at SJSU through timely and useful assessment efforts.
- Provide, in conjunction with the Center for Faculty Development, development opportunities for faculty, staff and students in topics and skills related to assessment.
- Further program planning and accreditation objectives by encouraging continuous collection and analysis of information about educational effectiveness within programs and departments and across the university.
- Disseminate, in conjunction with the Office of Academic Planning and Budgets, information about assessment efforts on campus. All program assessment reports are posted online.
- Ensure, in conjunction with the Academic Senate of SJSU, that all assessment efforts are in line with Academic Senate policy and follow good practice for assessing student learning.
- Create a system of resources and reference materials to assist assessment activities on campus.
- Coordinate with the Office of Communication and Public Affairs the dissemination of information about SJSU's successes in meeting the needs of its various publics.
A good overview of assessment is available at: Barbara Wright - Assessment Methods a Close-up Look (doc)
Stages of Assessment
If you haven't written Student Learning Objectives for a program yet, or if you are finding the ones you have written are working well, you might want to start with this short (2 page) introduction: Preparing Learning Objectives. Learning Objectives should include the performance level expected of students at graduation.
Once you have Learning Objectives for your program the next step is to establish where these outcomes are taught. The Computer Science B.S. has a good example of a map or matrix of learning outcomes to courses. This is a good example because it is easy to read and establishes beginning (or introduced), intermediate (or practice), and advanced (or assessed) levels. You can title these stages as you wish, but it is important to have at least two stages. Students aren't likely to remember skills after they graduate unless they get practice in more than one course.
You should begin measuring student performance at the advanced level because the goal is to know what graduates can do. Of course, if you find a significant number of students are not proficient at the advanced level you may want to assess the earlier stages.
Once a baseline for student performance is measure program faculty consult on the adequacy of student performance. If one learning objective shows fewer students performing at a proficient level, that SLO might be the best place to begin making some changes. As soon as possible after making a change measure student performance again in order to see what difference the change made.
Be sure to record (report):
- the baseline level of student performance
- changes made to the curriculum or pedagogy
- student performance after the change in curriculum or pedagogy. This should be done as soon as practicable after the change is made because you want to know how effective the change is.
Whether beginner or advanced in using student learning outcomes you will want to measure your program objectives against the current WASC program learning outcomes rubric. You may want to look at the all the WASC rubrics given to the visiting team.
This page last updated August 01, 2011