Once learning goals have been articulated and mapped, the next step in assessment planning is to determine what evidence should be used to determine learning outcomes. After reviewing the curriculum map to identify where learning goals are being addressed, faculty should come to an agreement about what constitutes acceptable evidence of student learning based on the assessment project in question and how it will be measured. Assessment evidence can be either formative – to understand the progression of student learning – or summative – collected at the end of a course, program, or degree. Evidence of student learning can also either indirect or direct:
Indirect measures capture perceptions of learning and can be used to supplement direct evidence. For example, surveys, focus groups, or exit interviews, as well as statistics on graduate school attendance, job placement, and graduation rates are considered indirect.
Direct measures provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their learning. Consider what data you already collect or that could be obtained through existing avenues. Student work such as writing or performances, capstone projects, observed interactions in groups, or responses to questions or prompts (e.g., tests) all provide an opportunity to observe what students have learned. Choosing one “artifact” to assess a student can be appropriate, particularly a capstone course assignment. Another approach to program-level assessment is to rate collections of student work (i.e., a portfolio) to capture the breadth of program-level learning goals. An advantage of direct measures is that they can be designed to address specific, local learning goals and embedded into a course as part of the educational experience, therefore providing value both for the student and the assessment process. Direct measures such as student writing or performances, or collections of student work (i.e., portfolios) will often rely on a rubric – a scoring guide for assessing student work that clearly articulates the criteria for achievement of learning. As with learning goals, you can create your own rubrics, but some good examples already exist that can be modified to meet your specific needs.
Collecting evidence is a vital component in the assessment process – it is intended to be used to close the loop to make improvements and to articulate achievement.