Assessment Fundamentals

What Is Assessment?

Assessment in this context is the systematic collection, review, and use of information about student learning for the purpose of continually improving student learning and overall program effectiveness

Characteristics of effective assessment include:

  • Focused: it keeps the attention on student learning
  • Prioritized: it doesn’t try to solve all problems at once
  • Explicit: it sets clear and measurable expectations
  • Meaningful: it can contribute to program improvement
  • Manageable: it can be performed with limited resources
  • Sustainable
  • Faculty-owned

Why Assess?

Effective assessment can have multiple benefits.  First and most importantly, it can help us to improve our academic programs, teaching, and, ultimately, student learning.

Second, it can facilitate accountability by demonstrating the effectiveness of our educational programs – and our commitment to improving them — to accrediting agencies, oversight bodies, funding sources, potential students and faculty, and other stakeholders.

Types of Assessment

Assessment can be helpful in a variety of settings.  Within the academic context, assessment can be conducted at multiple levels:

  • University: General Education
  • Department: Academic Program Review
  • Educational Program (degrees and certificates)
  • Individual Courses

The focus of this website, however, is assessment of student learning at the level of the educational program.