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Assessment Tools and Methods
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Methods of Assessment

Think about the major evaluation methods you currently use in your course. Make a list of these methods. Then try to describe in one sentence what the students are being asked to demonstrate in the assignment.

  • Why do you use current assignments, course structure, and activities?

  • What is the learning you want demonstrated and how can you
    measure it?

Course-Embedded Assessment

Most faculty members currently use some form of evaluation method in their courses: essays, tests, quizzes, research papers, midterm and final exams, etc. All of these evaluate student performance. Faculty can use pre-existing evaluation methods to embed assessment of course SLOs. These current evaluation methods can be used to help develop the SLOs for courses. In addition, new assessment methods, such as Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) can be introduced.

The best place to start assessing course SLOs is to look at current course assignments, tests, and projects. Focus on what students will do, not on what is covered, in the class.

Review the major assignments and evaluation methods and ask these questions:

  • Do they match the outcomes for the course?

  • Do the course activities reflect the kind of learning we are attempting to achieve?

  • Do the assignments require students to demonstrate the kinds of skills that are being graded or assessed?

  • What specific class activities and homework assignments help students to successfully complete my major assignments?

In the process of reviewing course assignments and evaluation methods, think about the parts, or the whole, that relate directly to course SLOs. Choose current assignments, tests, papers, etc., or parts of them to use for the assessment of course SLOs (keep in mind, it may be a whole assignment or only parts of it that directly link to an SLO). Try the following technique to analyze test questions for SLO assessment.

Analyzing Test Questions

Step 1
Identify the questions on the test which address the specific course SLO(s) to be assessed. There should be several questions throughout the exam that require students to demonstrate mastery of the specific competencies stated in the SLOs.
Step 2

Deepen the analysis of the questions by further categorizing them into levels:

Level A – those that require higher critical thinking, including analysis, synthesis or evaluation. Students may not be able to make direct links to course material.

Level B – those that require lower level critical thinking skills, such as application.

Level C – those that utilize knowledge and comprehension but no critical thinking directly.

Step 3
Grade entire exam as usual.
Step 4

Create a second scoring key, just for the questions selected for assessing the SLO(s).

A. This would be a good place to use a rubric as the second scoring key.

B. Develop the rubric descriptors to match the levels of competencies determined for the SLO (e.g. What is inadequate?, What is adequate competency?, What is mastery?)

Step 5
Analyze the results using the rubric as a guide for discerning the levels of student achievement. How many students missed the target questions? What level were the questions they had trouble with?
Step 6
Use the analysis to inform the teaching/learning process. Reevaluate your classroom activities and consider ways to improve the students’ outcome on these items if necessary.

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Assessment Coordinator



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