Guidelines For the Assessment Process
Establish goals – Goals are the outcomes or objectives we expect students to be able to do when they complete a course or program. Program goals are what we expect students to learn from all the courses within the program. Goals can also be called learning outcomes. In the Capstone course I teach the goal is for each student to be able to create a comprehensive communications plan based on their client’s needs. The plan needs to include specific components that have been taught throughout the master’s program.
Gather information – Gathering information that provides evidence of how well students are achieving the established goals of the course includes reviewing students’ assignments and talking to the students about what worked for them and what didn’t in the course. I review my students’ final communication plans to determine if they understand each component and have applied the component to their clients’ needs. This review tells me what areas students understand and the areas where they need additional support and instruction.
Taking action – Actions can be taken to improve students’ learning based on the information gathered on the achievement of course and program goals. This can include gathering additional information, changing curriculum or other aspects of the program. It can also include changing policies, funding, and planning that support learning, and faculty development. In my Capstone course, action resulting from the information gathering step includes creating a mini bootcamp for each component of the communications plan at the beginning of the course to refresh what students have already learned.
4. Assessment is a natural, scholarly act (Walford, 2010). As academics, we look for evidence to support our claims and assumptions. The data collection we are doing for our dissertation will provide evidence of what we’ve learned about our dissertation topic. My topic is the impact of COVID-19 on the college admissions process for first-generation students. My data will provide evidence that supports what I’ve learned about that impact. Assessment happens naturally as we determine what students’ work tells us about what they are learning. Assessment also provides evidence to all stakeholders that students are actually learning. These stakeholders include educators, parents, students, and administrators.
Walvoord, B. E. (2010). Assessment clear and simple: A practical guide for institutions, departments, and general education. John Wiley & Sons.
Hundley, S. and Kahn, S. (2019). Trends in assessment: Ideas, opportunities, and issues for higher education. Stylus. Sterling, VA.
I am a higher education administrator with over 15 years of experience in communications and operations. The views in my blog are my own.