The purpose of assessment in higher education is to improve student learning and/or the student experience. Assessment involves the collection and interpretation of information about what and how students learn to improve the learning experience. The assessment cycle includes creating outcomes and measurable goals, determining what to assess and how, choosing tools to measure the goal, implementing the plan, and then using the data to inform the teaching and learning process.
There are several levels of assessment used in higher education. The student level may include a quiz, paper, project, discussion, speech, PPT slides, essay, or portfolio. At the course level there may be an end of course evaluation from the students’ perspective. Course instructors may examine grades in exams, areas of difficulty, relevant content, and appropriate assignments for meeting course outcomes. At the program level, specialized accreditors examine program outcomes and effectiveness founded on a set of standards. Programs study course validity based on certification exam content or practical skills. At the college level we use institutional accreditation to ensure that our college meets specific criteria. There are four broad goals that we want all of our graduates with a bachelor’s degree to know in the areas of science and math, reading and writing, religious studies, and diversity.
College-wide there are many methods of collecting data: evaluations of student and faculty orientation, student satisfaction survey, academic advisor evaluation, course evaluation, entrance and exit ETS Proficiency Profile, writing portfolios, exit interviews, alumni surveys, employer surveys, focus groups, reflection on community service, etc. All students, faculty and staff are involved in some process of gathering data used to improve student learning and/or the student experience.