Assessing Student Learning

“Assessment” can seem like a loaded term at times; however, assessing–or measuring–student learning is a natural process, though often an implicit one.

We frequently make ongoing but unsystematic assessments of our own courses, whether we tweak the syllabus when something didn’t seem right or we rethink a question when student responses to an assignment or exam didn’t turn out the way we’d anticipated.

The challenge comes in making what we’re already doing routinely and intuitively more explicit and more systematic. When we take a surface approach to assessment, it can seem like one more task imposed from the outside. When we assess deliberately, based on our own teaching and learning goals; it can prompt deeper questions:

  • What do I want my students to learn?
  • How do I (and they?) know they are learning it?
  • How does the evidence of their learning align with my goals?
  • How do we measure the “squishy” side of learning?
  • How do we know what specific contributions our teaching has made to their learning and why?

See Grading and Feedback for other resources on assessing and evaluating student learning, or schedule a consultation to talk about your specific question or courses.