Linda Suskie

  A Common Sense Approach to Assessment & Accreditation

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Course vs program vs gen ed assessment

Posted on September 28, 2013 at 7:35 AM

I get a lot of questions on the differences among assessment at various levels:

 

Student-level assessment is assessing learning of individual students, generally on course learning objectives. This is the kind of assessment that faculty have done for literally thousands of years. Its primary purposes are to grade students and give them feedback on their learning.

 

Class-level assessment is assessing learning of an entire class (section) of students, again on course learning objectives. Class-level assessments look at the same evidence used to grade students and give them feedback on their learning (student-level assessment, above) but aggregate results for all students in a class or section to get an overall picture of their collective strengths and weaknesses in their learning. A faculty member might tally, for example, how many students got Question 12 right and what rubric ratings students earned regarding the organization of their papers. The primary purposes are to reflect on and improve individual teaching practice.

 

Course-level assessment is assessing learning of all students in a (multi-section) course, again on course learning objectives. This is just like class-level assessment except that faculty teaching sections of a course identify common course objectives and common means of assessing them. They then summarize results across sections to get an overall picture of students’ collective strengths and weaknesses. Faculty might, for example, agree to use the same rubric to grade the final paper or to include the same set of five questions on the final. If they see areas of weakness across sections, they work together to identify ways to collaboratively address those weaknesses.

 

Program-level assessment is assessing learning of all students in a program on program-level learning outcomes. Program level outcomes are generally addressed over multiple courses and are broader than course learning objectives. Course-level objectives generally contribute to program-level learning outcomes. For example, several courses in a program may each address specific technological skills. Those courses collectively contribute to an overall program-level learning outcome that students use technologies appropriately and effectively. Program-level outcomes are often best assessed with a significant assignment or project completed shortly before students graduate.

 

General education assessment is assessing learning of all undergraduates on general education outcomes. Faculty teaching courses that address a particular general education outcome collaborate to identify how they are assessed. They then aggregate results across courses to get an overall picture of students’ collective strengths and weaknesses regarding that learning outcome. There are many ways to do this, including using a shared rubric to assess a key assignment or project, using a common set of test questions, or using portfolios.

 

 

 

Categories: Clearing the Fog

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