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Step 3: Choosing Assessment Methods

"Assessment is the systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development."  (Palomba & Banta, 1999)

"Assessment is an ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving student learning."  (Thomas A. Angelo, 1995)

"Good assessment is good Research." (Gary R. Pike, 2000)

General Overview of Assessment Techniques
Direct Assessment Techniques

Direct Assessments provide “tangible, visible, self-explanatory, and compelling evidence of exactly what students have and have not learned.” (Suskie, 2009)

“Assessment plans must include direct measures in order to supply credible information for decision-making.”  (Palomba & Banta, 1999).

  • Conducting Direct Assessments - Links to help programs select, design, implement and score direct assessments (University of Michigan)
  • Direct Methods - NOVA workshop with examples of which data-collection methods can help answer different assessment questions
  • Assessing Service-Learning - Gives a rationale for engaging in service-learning assessment and reviews a selection of available tools for doing so; from Research and Practice in Assessment, Volume 1, Issue 2 (Steinke & Fitch 2007)
  • Assessment How-to: Capstone Experiences - University of Hawaii Manoa (2010)
  • Case Studies - Describe a “real life” situation with an uncertain outcome, putting students in the role of decision maker. (Hammond 1978)
    • Case Studies -Contains information on analyzing case studies, managing class discussion, examples, assignments and rubrics (University of Michigan)
    • Case Study Guidelines - A guide to help you create a case study (Vanderbilt University)
  • Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) - “help you to assess the degree to which your students understand the course content, and they can provide you with information about the effectiveness of your teaching methods. Most are designed to be quick and easy to use, and each CAT provides different kinds of information.” (Lee Haugen, Center for Teaching Excellence, Iowa State University, February, 1999)
  • Course-Based Review and Assessment - Methods for Understanding Student Learning. Office of Academic Planning and Assessment. University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Course Based Assessment Overview - Using Student Work From Courses To Assess Program-Level Student Learning Outcomes. Includes Team Worksheet to Determine Course-Based Assessment Methodology (Spurlin, NCSU, 2008)
  • Course-Embedded Assessment - Presentation from the Virginia Assessment Group with examples
  • Oral Presentations “ask students to present research, homework, or a short assignment, either individually or as part of a group…Presentations develop speaking skills, which are important in any field. They provide insight not only into the specific content the student has learned, but the depth of her understanding and her confidence with the material.” (The League for Innovation in the Community College, WGBH Educational Foundation, 2006)
    • Assessing Presentation Skills – Includes individual and team presentation rubrics beginning on page 23 of the PowerPoint (Wakefield 2012)
    • The Competent Speaker Speech Evaluation Form – “This resource for teachers and administrators can be used to evaluate persuasive speeches in class;… as a tool for instructing and advising students; and to generate assessment data for departmental or institutional accountability.” (NCA 2007)
    • Oral Presentations – Ideas for Oral Presentations and Making Scoring/Grading Useful for Assessment, Including example rubrics (University of Michigan)
  • Portfolios contain a “purposefully selected subset of student work” that highlight the progress, development, or best work of a student. (Mueller 2011)
    • Assessment Tool Box: Portfolios – Describes different types of portfolios, how to create one, and what samples might be included (Mueller 2011)
    • Can an e-Portfolio Catch on Fire? –A PowerPoint presentation by Ellen Marie Murphy contains many examples of e-Portfolios using “Mahara” (an open Source ePortfolio system)
    • Electronic Portfolio Research – Links to reports and presentations “on reflection in electronic portfolio practice; integrative learning; establishing identities through roles, competencies, values, & outcomes; and electronic portfolio technology and design for learning” (National Coalition for Electronic Portfolio Research, 2009)
    • Portfolios - Includes both work samples and reflections on learning, and is designed for presentation to specific audiences (NILOA)
    • Portfolios - Covers Design and Implementation Issues, Examples of Portfolio Assessment in Engineering Programs, and Making Scoring/Grading Useful for Assessment
    • Using Student Reflective Portfolios to Assess Course and Program-level Outcomes – Describes a ChemE-folio project that uses case study scenarios (examples included) to guide student refection and provides student survey responses to the assignment (Raisor & Fowler 2012)
  • Prior/Post Knowledge Assessment Tools (PKATs) assess what students know for diagnostic purposes coming in to a course to “gain an overview of students’ preparedness, identify areas of weakness, and adjust the pace of the course” and “to identify more specifically the knowledge and skills they have gained during the course or program.” (Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence, Carnegie Mellon)
    • How to Assess Students’ Prior Knowledge? - Methods to assess your students’ prior knowledge and skills from direct measures (e.g., portfolios, pre-tests, auditions) to indirect measures (e.g., students’ self-reports, inventories of prior courses or experiences). Also includes Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs), Concept Tests, and Concept Maps
  • Rubrics are an assessment tool used to measure and evaluate students' work on a full range of criteria rather than a single numerical score.
    • Create the Rubric - Takes you step by step through the process of creating and analytic or holistic rubric (John Mueller)
    • Rubrics - Describes different types of rubrics and levels of performance (John Mueller)
    • Sample Rubrics - A multitude of sample rubrics form various disciplines and learning experiences. Includes Case Studies to Writing Skills (Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education- AALHE)
    • Scoring Rubrics LMU - Constructing and using scoring rubrics, from Loyola Marymount University
  • Team & Group Work - Principles for Teaching and Assessing Teamwork and Making Scoring/Grading Useful for Assessment (University of Michigan)
  • Tests
  • Writing Assignments – Ideas for Learning Tasks that Support Assessment and Making Scoring/Grading Useful for Assessment (University of Michigan)
Indirect Assessment Techniques
  • Focus Groups provide “an opportunity for participants and the facilitator to exchange information related to the topic or group of topics for which the data are being collected… The insights and data produced by the interaction of participants in focus groups can provide feedback to initiate change, confirm satisfaction with services, or help generate new hypotheses” (Focus Group Guidelines, Austin Community College, 2002)
  • Interviews “allow deep exploration of an individual's experience…typically only a small number of people can be interviewed due to resource limitations…Interviews are excellent for deepening understanding of issues identified using surveys.” (Assessment for Curricular Improvement, Michigan Engineering)
    • Guidelines for Conducting Research Interviews – Includes preparing, types of interviews, types of topics in questions, sequence and wording of questions, carrying out the interview and afterwards (Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.)
    • How to Conduct an Interview - Describes four stages of an interview:  arrangements, preparation, the actual interview and the reconstruction.
  • Surveys/Questionnaires gather students' perceptions of learning, opinions about learning, or reflections on learning. They are efficient for gathering information from a large number of students. (Assessment for Curricular Improvement, Michigan Engineering)
    • Conducting Web-Based Surveys – Solomon, David J. (2001), Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7(19).
    • Surveys - Listed here are a summary of the national surveys that gauge student outcomes and experiences with links to further survey information and related articles (NILOA).
    • Surveys or Questionnaires - Guidelines for writing surveys and choosing who to survey (University of Michigan).