Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between grading and assessment?

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 is a larger term. Assessment is a continuous process of inquiry in which we try to better understand and improve upon student learning. It involves 2-way or cyclical communication and includes things such as: setting goals and outcomes for learning; making these goals and outcomes clear for students; measuring in various ways (including but not limited to grading) how well students are able to meet these goals/outcomes; and obtaining, examining, and applying student and other types of feedback to improve upon student learning and success. Assessment involves people from all areas of academia, including teachers, students, administrators, and those who are in charge of curriculum design.

More information on standards for evaluating effectiveness as an institution of higher education can be found on the NWCCU Website.

What are the different types of assessment?

Assessment methods are diverse and reflect the culture and mission of each institution. The Lane faculty survey has some examples of how faculty assess student learning outcomes at the course level. Career Technical programs often use national licensing exams, cooperative education evaluations, and capstone projects as examples of measuring learning outcomes over the length of a program. Lane is actively involved in assessment through its Institutional Projects. Valencia College has a list of comprehensive examples of assessment methods for course, program, degree and institutional-level outcome assessment.

What is the role of faculty in assessment?

Faculty are responsible for creating and assessing well-defined student learning outcomes. This responsibility goes beyond the course-level. Faculty collaborate and create assessment plans at the program and degree-levels. Assessment planning and goals may be facilitated by a program or discipline-lead. Consult with your program-lead or Division Dean to learn more about how your department is contributing to institutional assessment.

What kinds of support are available to faculty interested in adding or modifying assessment methods in their classes?

The A-Team Website has a Faculty Toolkit and other linked resources that provide ideas and references for assessment. The Core Learning Outcomes Coordinator and A-Team members are available to facilitate workshops or for scheduled 1:1 meetings for individualized consult in methods and projects. Professional development in assessment is offered regularly during fall conference and spring inservice. Funding may be available for faculty and faculty teams to engage in core learning outcome assessment at course and program levels. Consult the Current Projects and Events page for current and future opportunities.

What are some methods of assessment that might help students focus less on grades and more on learning/engagement of ideas?

Authentic assessments, such as portfolios or real-world projects, allow students to demonstrate complex, integrated knowledge and skills. These are best practices. Students focus on knowledge and skills when assessment focuses on demonstrating knowledge and skills, as opposed to "earning points." Assessment that is tied to rubrics for learning outcomes has been shown to help students focus on learning and on their own self-assessment of learning.

What happens to the data collected by the Assessment Team?

The A-Team publishes project reports and an annual synthesis of projects on the Reports and Actions page. We are working toward larger-scale institutional assessment of core learning outcomes. The primary use of assessment data is to improve student learning (what is termed, "closing the loop").