Assessment is a program required by the Commonwealth of Virginia and most other states, as well as regional accrediting bodies, to evaluate the effectiveness of educational programs and support services at all colleges and universities. In Virginia, each college or university may design its own assessment program, although each is required to assess the general education program, each major program, and achievement among alumni.
At Old Dominion University, we survey all entering freshmen, graduating seniors and graduate students to evaluate the learning that has occurred, along with students' satisfaction with our programs. We also survey alumni up to 3 years after graduation. Assessment does NOT evaluate individual students, faculty, or classes.
In order to respect the dignity of all individuals, responses will be kept strictly confidential, and only group data will be reported.
Why It Should Be done
Assessment of student learning for the purpose of continuous quality improvement (CQI) is a requirement for SACS-COC accreditation and many specialized accrediting bodies.
Assessment is also required as a part of the SCHEV Higher Education Restructuring Scorecard. Locally, assessment is required to evaluate progress on the 2009-14 Strategic Plan and support performance based budgeting.
Most importantly, setting goals, collecting and analyzing data, and using the data to improve our programs is part of what we do as professionals in a learning organization. While one person in a department may take the lead in assessment for the department, all members of the department should participate in the assessment process in their department.
Why Not Grades?
Grades and Assessment are attempts to identify what students learned; so grades are an important component of an assessment program. However, grades alone are not sufficient! Grades that are based on direct evidence of student learning which are clearly linked to major learning goals, and are clearly delineated, consistent standards through test blueprints or rubrics are useful. Effective Grading (Walvoord and Anderson, 1998) offer numerous practical suggestions about how to tie grades to explicit learning goals and standards.
Grades Are Insufficient Because...
- Grades include student behaviors that may or may not be related to course goals (i.e. class attendance, participant, late submission of assignments). These practices can help a student earn a fairly high grade even though they did not achieve the learning goal.
- Grades alone may give insufficient information on student strengths and weaknesses.
- Grades do not reflect all learning experiences.