Linda Suskie

  A Common Sense Approach to Assessment & Accreditation

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Getting started with meeting your professional development needs

Posted on June 24, 2018 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (1)

A recent paper co-sponsored by AALHE and Watermark identified some key professional development needs of assessment practitioners. 


While a book is no substitute for a rich, interactive professional development experience, some of the things that assessment practitioners want to learn about are discussed in my books Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide (new 3rd edition) and Five Dimensions of Quality: A Common Sense Guide to Accreditation and Accountability. Perhaps they’re a good place to kick off your professional development.


Analyzing and Interpreting Assessment Data


See Chapter 24 (Analyzing Evidence of Student Learning) of Assessing Student Learning (3rd ed.).


Analyzing and Interpreting Qualitative Results


See “Summarizing qualitative evidence” on pages 313-316 of Chapter 23 (Summarizing and Storing Evidence of Student Learning) of Assessing Student Learning (3rd ed.)


Reporting Assessment Results


See Chapter 25 (Sharing Evidence of Student Learning) of Assessing Student Learning (3rd ed.) and Chapter 16 (Transparency: Sharing Evidence Clearly and Readily) of Five Dimensions of Quality.


Assessment Culture


This is such a big issue that the 3rd edition of Assessing Student Learning devotes six chapters to it. See Part 3, which includes the following chapters:

Chapter 9 (Guiding and Coordinating Assessment Efforts)

Chapter 10 (Helping Everyone Learn What to Do)

Chapter 11 (Supporting Assessment Efforts)

Chapter 12 (Keeping Assessment Cost-Effective)

Chapter 13 (Collaborating on Assessment)

Chapter 14 (Valuing Assessment and the People Who Contribute)


A good place to start is Chapter 14, because it begins with a section titled, “Why is this so hard?” Even better, see the chapter that section summarizes: Chapter 4 (Why Is This So Hard?) of Five Dimensions of Quality.


Also see Chapter 17 (Using Evidence to Ensure and Advance Quality and Effectiveness) in Five Dimensions of Quality.


Culture of Change


See Chapter 18 (Sustaining a Culture of Betterment) of Five Dimensions of Quality along with the aforementioned Chapter 4 (Why Is This So Hard?) in the same book. For a briefer discussion, see “Value innovation, especially in improving teaching” on pages 180-181 of Chapter 14 (Valuing Assessment and the People Who Contribute) of Assessing Student Learning (3rd ed.).


Effective/Meaningful/Best Assessment Practices


See Chapter 3 (What Are Effective Assessment Practices?) of Assessing Student Learning (3rd ed.) and Chapter 14 (Good Evidence Is Useful) of Five Dimensions of Quality.


Co-Curricular Learning Outcomes and Assessment


Information on co-curricula is scattered throughout the new 3rd edition of Assessing Student Learning. See the following:

“Learning goals for co-curricular experiences” on pages 57-58 of Chapter 4 (Learning Goals: Articulating What You Most Want Students to Learn)

“Planning assessments in co-curricula” on pages 110-112 of Chapter 8 (Planning Assessments in Other Settings)

Chapter 20 (Other Assessment Tools) 

Chapter 21 (Assessing the Hard-to-Assess) 


Rubrics


See Chapter 15 (Designing Rubrics to Plan and Assess Assignments) of Assessing Student Learning (3rd ed.).


Establishing Standards


See Chapter 22 (Setting Meaningful Standards and Targets) of Assessing Student Learning (3rd ed.) and Chapter 15 (Setting and Justifying Targets for Success) of Five Dimensions of Quality.


Program Review


See Chapter 20 (Program Reviews: Drilling Down into Programs and Services) of Five Dimensions of Quality.

Seminal readings on assessing student learning

Posted on December 8, 2017 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (1)

Someone on the ASSESS listserv recently asked for recommendations for a good basic book for those getting started with assessment. Here are eight books I recommend for every assessment practitioner's bookshelf (in addition, of course to my own Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide, whose third edition is coming out on February 4, 2018.)


Assessment Essentials: Planning, Implementing, and Improving Assessment in Higher Education by Trudy Banta and Catherine Palomba (2014): This is a soup-to-nuts primer on student learning assessment in higher education. The authors especially emphasize organizing and implementing assessment.


Learning Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty by Elizabeth Barkley and Claire Major (2016): This successor to the classic Classroom Assessment Techniques (Angelo & Cross, 1993) expands and reconceptualizes CATs into a fresh set of Learning Assessment Techniques (LATs)—simple tools for learning and assessment—that faculty will find invaluable.


How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading by Susan Brookhart (2013): This book completely changed my thinking about rubrics. Susan Brookhart has a fairly narrow vision of how rubrics should be developed and used, but she offers persuasive arguments for doing things her way. I’m convinced that her approach will lead to sounder, more useful rubrics.


Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses by L. Dee Fink (2013): Dee Fink is an advocate of backwards curriculum design: identifying course learning goals, identifying how students will demonstrate achievement of those goals by the end of the course, then designing learning activities that prepare students to demonstrate achievement successfully. His book presents an important context for assessment: its role in the teaching process.


Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education by George Kuh, Stan Ikenberry, Natasha Jankowski, Timothy Cain, Peter Ewell, Pat Hutchings, and Jillian Kinzie (2015): The major theme of this book is that, if assessment is going to work, it has to be for you, your colleagues, and your students, not your accreditor. This book is a powerful argument for moving from a compliance approach to one that makes assessment meaningful and consequential. If you feel your college is simply going through assessment motions, this book will give you plenty of practical ideas to make it more useful.


Five Dimensions of Quality: A Common Sense Guide to Accreditation and Accountability by Linda Suskie (2014): I wrote this book after working for one of the U.S. regional accreditors for seven years and consulting for colleges in all the other U.S. accreditation regions. In that work, I found myself repeatedly espousing the same basic principles, including principles for obtaining and using meaningful, useful assessment evidence. Those principles are the foundation of this book.


Assessment Clear and Simple: A Practical Guide for Institutions, Departments, and General Education by Barbara Walvoord (2010): The strength of this book is its size: this slim volume is a great introduction for anyone feeling overwhelmed by all he or she needs to learn about assessment.


Effective Grading by Barbara Walvoord and Virginia Anderson (2010): This is my second favorite assessment book after my own! With its simple language and its focus on the grading process, it’s a great way to help faculty develop or improve assessments in their courses. It introduces them to many important assessment ideas that apply to program and general education assessments as well.

Helpful assessment resources

Posted on January 12, 2016 at 5:20 AM Comments comments (1)

A newcomer to assessment recently asked me for advice on resources to get up to speed on assessment. In my last blog post I suggested 8 essential books for an assessment practitioner’s bookshelf. Here are some other resources I’ve found invaluable:

 

Membership Organizations

Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education 

Association for Higher Education Effectiveness 

Association of American Colleges & Universities

 

Journals

Assessment Update 

Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 

Research and Practice in Assessment

 

Face to Face Conferences

Assessment Institute in Indianapolis 

Accreditors’ conferences

Smaller regional assessment conferences

 

(Free) News Feeds

Inside Higher Ed 

Lumina Foundation Daily Higher Education News 

Education Dive: Higher Ed 

Academe Today (free daily newsletter of the Chronicle of Higher Education)

 

Online Discussion Groups

Higher Education: Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes & Educational Innovation LinkedIn group

ASSESS listserv sponsored by AAHLE

AHEE listserv sponsored by AHEE

ACCSHE listserv (accreditation in southern U.S. higher education)

 

Online Resources

Assessment Commons

National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

Essential assessment books

Posted on December 17, 2015 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (1)

A newcomer to higher education assessment recently asked me for advice on readings to get up to speed on assessment. Here are eight books I recommend for every assessment practitioner’s bookshelf.

 

Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide by Linda Suskie: I wrote the first edition of this over a decade ago, when I realized there was no basic soup-to-nuts primer on student learning assessment in higher education. My knack is using a plainspoken style that strips away the jargon, so this is a good choice for assessment newcomers.

 

Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment in College by Barbara Walvoord and Virginia Anderson: This is my second favorite assessment book after my own. The language is even simpler than mine! With its focus on the grading process, it’s a great way to help faculty look at assessments in their courses and introduce them to many important assessment ideas that apply to program and general education assessments as well.

 

How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading by Susan Brookhart: I read this book this summer, and it completely changed my thinking about rubrics. Brookhart has a fairly narrow vision of how rubrics should be developed and used, but she offers persuasive arguments for doing things her way. I’m convinced that her approach will lead to sounder, more useful rubrics.

 

Assessment Essentials: Planning, Implementing, and Improving Assessment in Higher Education by Trudy Banta and Catherine Palomba: This is another soup-to-nuts primer on student learning assessment in higher education. While my book Assessing Student Learning focuses on assessment techniques, Trudy and Catherine spend more time on organizing and implementing assessment, making the two books great companions.

 

Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses by L. Dee Fink. Dee and I are both big proponents of “backwards curriculum design”: identify course learning outcomes, identify how students will demonstrate achievement of those outcomes by the end of the course, then design learning activities to prepare students to demonstrate achievement successfully. So Dee’s book presents an important context for assessment: its role in the overall teaching process.

 

Learning Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty by Elizabeth Barkley and Claire Major: This successor to the classic Classroom Assessment Techniques won’t be out until mid-January, but I had the privilege of reading the manuscript. Elizabeth and Claire have expanded and reconceptualized CATs into a fresh set of learning and assessment tools that faculty will find invaluable.

 

Five Dimensions of Quality: A Common Sense Guide to Accreditation and Accountability by Linda Suskie: I wrote this book after working for one of the U.S. regional accreditors for seven years and consulting for colleges in all the other U.S. regions. I found myself espousing the same basic principles over and over, including principles for obtaining and using meaningful, useful assessment evidence. Those principles are the foundation of this book.

 

Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education by George Kuh, Stan Ikenberry, Natasha Jankowski, Timothy Cain, Peter Ewell, Pat Hutchings, and Jillian Kinzie. George and his colleagues echo one of the major themes of my book Five Dimensions of Quality: if assessment is going to work, it has to be for you, not your accreditor. Their book is a powerful argument for moving from a compliance approach to one that makes assessment meaningful and consequential. If you feel your college is simply going through the assessment motions, this book will give you plenty of practical ideas.