There are those in the academic community who dread hearing and reading about assessment. But aside from the mandatory reporting required by credentialing and accreditation agencies, how can faculty members be sure that all of the assessment activities they are required to report actually produce change and are not just more paperwork?
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Anyone with a 3-year-old knows one of their favorite words is “Why.” As it turns out, asking “why” is a good way to examine your assessment goals and how they align with your institution’s core values.
“My favorite assessment question is ‘Why’ and I ask it over and over again,” said Linda Suskie, president at the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
In the mid-1990s, college faculty members were introduced to the concept of classroom assessment techniques (CATs) by Angelo and Cross (1993). These formative assessment strategies were learner-centered, teacher-directed ongoing activities that were rooted in good teaching practice. They were designed to provide relatively quick and useful feedback to the faculty member about what students did and did not understand in order to enhance the teaching and learning process.
Most college teachers assume that more tests are better than a few. Why? What caused us to decide on three or four unit tests followed by a final? Is there evidence that students don’t do as well in courses where there are only a midterm and a final? Why do we think that more tests might be better? And what do we mean by better? Higher grades? More learning?
It’s a new year, but the same old challenges exist. Given today’s financial challenges, colleges and universities are all working harder than ever to be careful stewards of limited resources and to demonstrate their effectiveness to stakeholders, constituents, and the public.
The intermediate statistics class I took quite a number of years ago had two types of learners at the outset—those who were worried about passing the course and those who were sure they couldn’t pass it. The professor clearly understood the “fear-of-stats” phenomenon and used a number of instructional techniques to help learners gain confidence and skills.
In their new book, Designing Effective Assessment: Principles and Profiles of Good Practice, Trudy Banta, Elizabeth Jones, and Karen Black provide assessment profiles from a wide variety of institutions and units. In advance of her online seminar titled Principles and Profiles of Good Practice in Assessment. Dr. Banta answered questions about the book and some of the topics she will discuss next week’s seminar.
Despite the admirable goal of improving student learning by assessment, many faculty members are uneasy about participating in assessment-related activities. One way to overcome negative feelings about assessment while promoting improved student learning is to encourage faculty to engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).