Linda Suskie

 A Common Sense Appr​oach to Assessment in Higher Education


Making assessment consequential

Posted on January 25, 2016 at 7:25 AM

Of course as soon as I posted and announced my last blog on helpful assessment resources, I realized I’d omitted two enormous ones: AAC&U, which has become an amazing resource and leader on assessment in general education and the liberal arts, and the National Institute of Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), which has generated and published significant scholarship that is advancing assessment practice. I’ve edited that blog to add these two resources.


Last year the folks at NILOA wrote what I consider one of eight essential assessment books: Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher EducationIt’s co-authored by one of the greatest collections of assessment minds on the planet: George Kuh, Stan Ikenberry, Natasha Jankowski, Timothy Cain, Peter Ewell, Pat Hutchings, and Jillian Kenzie. They make a convincing case for rebooting our approach to assessment, moving from what they call a culture of compliance, in which we focus on doing assessment largely to satisfy accreditors, to what they call consequential assessment, the kind that truly impacts student success and institutional performance.

Here’s my favorite line from the book: “Good assessment is not about the amount of information amassed, or about the quality of any particular facts or numbers put forth. Rather, assessment within a culture of evidence is about habits of question asking, reflection, deliberation, planning, and action based on evidence” (p. 46). In other words, the most important kind of validity for student learning assessments is consequential validity.


The book presents compelling arguments for making this transformational shift, discusses challenges in making this shift and offers practical, research-informed strategies on how to overcome those challenges based on real examples of good practices. This book turned on so many light bulbs for me! As I noted in my earlier blog on eight essential assessment books, it’s a worthwhile addition to every assessment practitioner’s bookshelf.


I’ll be publishing a more thorough review of the book in an upcoming issue of the journal Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education.

Categories: Sharing & using results, How to assess