Role of Assessment
I would like to share a compilation on the topic of Assessment... "Are my students learning? How do I know they are learning?" These are questions at the core of all assessments, shared in the paper by Dickson and Treml (2013), Using Assessment and SoTL to Enhance Student Learning. The authors remind us that Assessment and Teaching as Research are driven by the same questions (Hutchings, Huber, & Ciccone 2011). The authors state, "As scholars, we must objectively examine the effectiveness of our educational practices in our courses and programs rather than relying on our perceptions. We need evidence that students are learning and that we are facilitating that learning through our pedagogy and curriculum."
Gilbert (2015) asks in a piece (with 152 comments) entitled, Does Assessment Make Colleges Better? Who Knows? "Are we using assessment to find minor shortcomings in our teaching and curriculum, changing what we do in the hopes of remedying those and in the long run having no real positive effect on the quality of our graduates and institutions?"
In a 2017 article, The Higher Ed Learning Revolution: Tracking Each Student's Every Move, Westervelt states that "On campuses almost every educational interaction leaves digital traces. Assignments and feedback are given through online portals; debates and discussions happen via learning management systems as well as in classrooms, cafes and dorm rooms." Is this assessment improving student learning, skills and abilities?
Gannon (2017) shares in his article, Stuck in the Assessment Swamp? that at the university he teaches at and most, "we use various assignments to assess the outcomes in our institution’s core curriculum, for example, and then we aggregate the data to see how students across the university are doing with the core’s various dimensions." The author continues with suggesting that "assessment is simply telling the story of whether, and how, our students are learning. If we don’t tell our story well, there are plenty of others who will tell it for us."
In Miller's (2018), A Defense of a Collaborative Approach to Assessment, the author points to the irony that "faculty expect tangible results from their peers when reviewing research, but some seem opposed to the same standards being applied to their classrooms." He reminds us that "assessment shouldn’t be about writing yet another report. It needs to be collaborative and carefully rooted in student learning. Assessment data, when collected and used in a meaningful way, can positively impact a faculty member’s own pedagogy and student success."