Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Why do we need to do assessment?
A: It enables faculty to look more deeply into what they ask students to do in a course that will facilitate learning, and, to specifically meet learning outcomes. Additionally, assessment can help faculty determine if courses align with one another, if programs cohere, and if we are clearly communicating our goals to students.
Q: Why is student learning assessment important?
A: To assess what students actually learned in course or program of study so that faculty have the option to revise course materials, align courses within a program and communicate these objectives clearly to students through well crafted course and program outcomes.
Q: What role does assessment of learning outcomes play in transfer courses and general education?
A: Lane’s Core Learning Outcomes are an essential component to providing a liberal education and developing students’ general education skills and knowledge. The liberal education approach can empower our students to become global citizens, capable of communicating across borders and critically analyzing the evolving issues and problems we face in our global culture. Such an approach supports respect for individuals, cultural differences, and alternative views and prepares students to work in our increasingly globally connected world.
Q: How does student learning assessment benefit students?
A: Assessment enables students to develop skills and abilities for the purpose of engaging in a changing global landscape. Assessment facilitates consistency and coherency between courses and across disciplines. It ensures regular review of learning outcomes and integration within the curriculum, providing clear and consistent communication about the knowledge, skills, and abilities important to particular courses and across programs or discipline studies. There is a body of literature that connects student learning assessment to persistence and completion or attainment of educational goals. Through the continuous evaluation and improvement process (assessment), we help to identify and remove barriers to ensure students make progress toward their goals.
Q: How does assessment benefit instructors/instruction?
A: It provides an opportunity to engage in in disciplinary conversations about our vocation, our passion, and our craft, individually and with colleagues. Assessment involves multiple stages and activities: 1) creation and refinement of course-level outcomes; 2) discussions of course outcomes to develop a shared understanding of the meaning of a these goals; crafting shared or signature assignments to evaluate thresholds of student performance; 3) creating rubrics to facillitate a shared understanding of assessment metrics; 4) evaluating student work to determine the effectiveness of our shared curricula.
Q: Who is responsible for student learning assessment?
A: Faculty are primarily responsiblt for evaluating student learning, in collaboration with the Assessment Team and with support from staff, managers, and administration.
Q: Will this assessment process increase my workload?
A: Some assessment work is part of our regular teaching duties: creation of curriculum, conversations with colleagues about course content and pedagogy, creation of assignments or evaluation metrics. However, shared assessment work---evaluation of student artifacts, collaboration with large groups of FT and PT faculty to create shared assignments--can increase workload. Currently, there is funding available for assessment projects through the Assessment Team.
Q: Am I already doing assessment in my classes or am I going to have to start from scratch?
A: You may be surprised at how much you are already doing in terms of assessment. For example: Do you include an assignment that asks students to analyze a real life or hypothetical situation applying course concepts in the analysis? This supports the assessment of critical thinking, one of Lane’s Core Learning Outcomes.
Q: When is assessment done?
A: Never. It is an ongoing process aimed at continuous improvement.
Q: What are Core Learning Outcomes?
A: Core Learning Outcomes were developed by faculty to describe the transferable skills students who attend Lane should develop as a result of their educational and co-curricular experiences. Each CLO includes multiple dimensions and is defined more in-depth on the Core Learning Outcomes page.
Q: Why are Core Learning Outcomes important?
A: They give us a shared language in which to assess student learning across disciplines. Core Learning Outcomes articulate our general education values and goals, and it is important that all members of the institution speak in a shared voice, articulating their value to students and to the public.
Q: What is the difference between course outcomes and Core Learning Outcomes?
A: Course outcomes are discipline specific. Core Learning Outcomes are applied across disciplines and speak to broad, transferable skills manifest by and through enrollment in general education courses.
Learning outcomes describe the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that students are expected to gain as a result of their learning in a course, program, discipline, or degree. Learning outcomes typically are expressed using active verbs that align with the level at which students are expected to demonstrate learning.
Course-level learning outcomes are explicitly stated on the course outline and the course syllabus. Course outcomes are more specific and identify what a student will learn (knowledge, skills, abilities, and values). Course outcomes are assessed in a single course and may build skills that will be developed further in subsequent courses.
NOTE about course outcomes: Every course at Lane has learning outcomes. These are part of Lane's state-approved curriculum. Current course learning outcomes are displayed with each course listed in the Banner student registration system. All sections of the same course should use the same learning outcomes.
Q: Is each course expected to engage all five of the CLOs?
A: No, we do not need to address nor assess all Core Learning Outcomes. To start, we might want to focus on just one CLO (e.g. Think Critically). Additionally, we may choose to focus on one or two dimensions related to a CLO (e.g., Think Critically - Demonstrate knowledge of the context and complexity of the issue).
Q: Does every assignment need to address all of the course learning outcomes?
A: No, we do not need to assess all course learning outcomes at once. We might have multiple assignments, with each one addressing one or two course learning outcomes. Alternately, we might start with a “signature assignment” that may be shared and applied in multiple sections of the same course. The signature assignment might include only one or two course outcomes.
Q: What is the difference between grading and assessment?
A: Grading is assigning value to a particular piece of student work or overall student performance in a course. This value is limited to the scope of the specific assignment or course; therefore, assigning a grade doesn't typically tell us how the student will perform in other courses and/or their larger academic career. Additionally, it rarely sheds light on how well an assignment or course functions within a program or institution. Also, grading is usually a one-time event involving only the student and the instructor, and it is often limited to one-way communication from instructor to student.
Assessment often involves an examination and evaluation of the performance of more than one student, in more than one section, to determine, aggregately, how students are meeting the outcomes for a particular course, across courses, or within a program. The goal is not to evaluate an individual student’s performance, rather, the goal is to determine how effectively students are meeting course and program outcomes--it’s an analysis of the interface of curriculum, pedagogy, and learning.