Examples of Assessment Tools

Direct Measures

Embedded Testing: Assessment that is incorporated into assignments can present valuable information and data regarding student learning, as well as achievement of program goals. Because these measures are "embedded" in the curriculum, no additional labor is required.
Pros: Representative, standardized, serve dual purpose (less work, use of existing resources)
Cons: Not qualitative, inconsistent among evaluators, reliability

National Standardized Tests: The use of national standardized tests is essential in education evaluation. This comprehensive assessment strategy quantifies outcomes and allows performance comparison on a local, state, and national level
Pros: Centralized, consistent, comparative, may be generalized, quantitative, objective, reliable, valid, provide norms, readily available
Cons: Not qualitative, no room for subjectivity, unintended consequence of narrowing curriculum, inconsistent with active learning

Pre-test/Post-test Student Assessment: This assessment strategy can evaluate learning, as well as achievement of learning goals, through use of a benchmark measure. These tests are administered by faculty on the first and last day of class.
Pros: Controls internal validity (produced by intervention), quantitative, shows learning
Cons: Not always qualitative, imprecise, difficult to interpret results/answers

Portfolios of Student Work Evaluation: Student portfolios may be used to record and assess student learning. This strategy demonstrates improvement among the learners, as well as a foundation for evaluating teaching methods.
Pros: Centralized (one place of evidence), integrates instruction and assessment
Cons: Not standardized, subjective, time consuming

Exams: Common way to demonstrate student knowledge. If professors use the same exam for many years it can provide longitudinal data on students' learning
Pros: Direct Measure of skill/knowledge, assess a large number of people in short amount of time, easier to score
Cons: Time invested in original development, difficult to write items which test higher-order thinking, "teaching to the test"

Indirect Measures

Alumni/Employer Surveys: The use of alumni and employer surveys in assessment allows an external glimpse of the strengths and weaknesses of a program. Feedback from these sources reveals achievement of learning goals, as well as student readiness for the work force. This measure is accomplished through mail and/or telephone surveys, focus groups, and interviews.
Pros: Qualitative and Quantitative, gives external perspective, vast array of possible questions, leading to many kinds of analysis
Cons: Feedback rate, difficult to code, may have skewed reactions (validity), not scientifically constructed, unable to generalize, vary depending on economy

External review by peers: Peer evaluation can influence student participation, as well as enhance interpersonal skills.
Pros: Qualitative, provides experiential data
Cons: Subjective, not quantitative, inaccurate, rating bias and erros (contamination effects bias)

Rubric: A scoring guide, can be useful in standardizing assessment. Rubrics provide precise and unbiased measures.
Pros: Explicit expectations, convincing documentation, accurate, unbiased, consistent, emphasis on doing over understanding, does not allow for variability in scoring, make scoring easier, faster, more accurate, unbiased and consistent, reduce arguments with students
Cons: Can lack credibility, does not provide qualitative, thorough feedback, inconsistencies between evaluators, difficult to use with independent projects

Capstone Courses: As the culminating activity of the academic program, capstone demonstrates a student's "comprehensive learning." In addition, capstone assessment is a useful illustration of program efficacy.
Pros: Both qualitative and quantitative, accurate, reliable, valid
Cons: May not be standardized

Page last modified March 6, 2014