Council for Higher Education Accreditation CHEA is the largest higher education membership organization the United States. CHEA is the primary national voice for voluntary accreditation and quality assurance to the U.S. Congress and U.S. Department of Education.
Education Sector is an independent think tank whose mission is to promote changes in policy and practice that lead to improved student opportunities and outcomes.
Lumina Foundation for Education
The nation's largest foundation dedicated exclusively to increasing students' access to and success in postsecondary education.
Middle States Commission on Higher Education A regional accreditor in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Middle States web site has numerous publications available for free download. A particularly useful publication is Student Learning Assessment: Options and Resources (2nd Edition, 2007)
Graduate Record Examination (GRE) – a standardized test measuring verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and critical thinking and analytical writing skills. GRE subject tests in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Literature in English, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology are designed to measure undergraduate achievement in these subject areas.
ETS Major Field Tests – comprehensive undergraduate and MBA outcomes assessments offered by the Educational Testing Service designed to measure the critical knowledge and understanding obtained by students in a major field of study. Students in undergraduate and MBA programs may take the Major Field Tests. The Major Field Tests cover the following fields of study: Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, Economics, History, Literature in English, Mathematics, Music, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology.
ETS Proficiency Profile – formerly the Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress (MAPP), the Proficiency Profile is a comprehensive test most often used to gauge general education competencies.
Templates and Tools
Bloom's Taxonomy - List of action verbs at each level of Bloom's taxonomy. It can be used to assist faculty in developing student learning objectives.
Rubrics are scoring guides that describe the specific criteria that will be used to evaluate student artifacts. The most useful types contain performance levels to indicate the quality of work done, with each level described in a manner to contrast it with performance at other levels. The AAC&U Value rubrics are examples of these types of "descriptive" rubrics. Advantages of using rubrics include:
Rubrics help instructors evaluate student work consistently and objectively.
Rubrics make your evaluation criteria transparent.
Rubrics help instructors provide detailed feedback to students.
Rubics help to make scoring faster and easier.
For more information about rubrics, please read this document
Getting started assessing student work in Blackboard
Using a rubric in Blackboard is a simple process. You may score any type of student artifact, including gradeable papers, discussion board postings, Wiki pages, journal entries, or blogs. As scores and feedback are entered into a rubric, they are automatically reflected in the Grade Center, which saves instructors a considerable time. To assess student artifacts in Blackboard, you must create an assignment and link it with a rubric and then score the artifact using the rubric. Follow the step-by-step instructions in the follwing links for instructions:
Step 1: Create an Assignment and Associate a Rubric in Blackboard (Instructions)
At Lehman, we are committed to providing students with an education that will prepare them to be successful in their professional lives. Strong written communication skills are essential, regardless of the path that our graduates take after they leave Lehman. Please click on the following links for additional information about assessing students' written comminication skills.
Below are various definitions that have been put forward by leading experts:
“Assessment is the systematic collection of information about student learning, using the time, knowledge, expertise, and resources available, in order to inform decisions about how to improve learning.” (Walvoord, 2004)
“Assessment is the systematic basis for making inferences about the learning and development of students. It is the process of defining, selecting, designing, collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and using information to increase students’ learning and development.” (Erwin, 1991)
“Assessment is a process of reasoning from evidence.” (Pellegrino, Chudowsky, and Glaser 2001)
“Assessment involves the use of empirical data on student learning to refine programs and improve student learning.” (Allen, 2004).
“Assessment is the systematic collection review and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development.” (Palomba and Banta, 1999)
Why is Middle States so concerned about assessment?
Voluntary, accreditation via peer review is the primary mechanism used to ensure quality in higher education in the United States. Middle States, through adherence to high standards for student learning outcomes and operational behavior, seeks to assure higher education’s publics that its accredited institutions are fulfilling their stated purposes and addressing the publics’ expectations.
In recent years, calls by the public for accountability and transparency in higher education have increased due to continued cost escalation and a perception by many that college graduates are poorly prepared to enter the workforce. Middle States and the other regional accredited bodies have argued that accreditation via peer review is preferable to the top-down approach recently discussed by the federal government as evidenced in the No Child Left Behind legislation at the K-12 levels.
I give students a grade in my course, am I not already doing assessment?
Grades alone are not sufficient evidence of student learning because by themselves, grades do not give enough information about the learning that was tested or the criteria that were used. Among the multiple problems that attend the grading system are: grade inflation, lack of consistent standards and vague criteria among courses and institutions, non-learning criteria used in the grading process, student motivation that focuses too narrowly on grades, etc.
This is not to say that grades do not have a place in learning outcomes assessment. They most certainly do. According to Linda Suskie of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, “Grades can be useful evidence of student learning if the grades are based on direct evidence of student learning (tests, projects, papers, assignments, etc.) that is clearly linked to major learning goals and clearly delineated, consistent with standards through test blueprints or rubrics.”
Does learning outcomes assessment infringe on the academic freedom of faculty?
No. According to Middle States, “Assessment of student learning is not a means of decreasing the autonomy of faculty members. It is a means of increasing the mutual engagement of faculty members, staff, and students in providing an optimal learning experience.” According to Barbara Walvoord, a leading expert on assessment in higher education, “Assessment rightly conducted does not ask faculty to repress their knowledge or judgments. Rather, it asks faculty to work together as colleagues to assess student work fairly by criteria respected in the field and to share their knowledge of student strengths and weaknesses, in order to improve curriculum, pedagogy, and other factors that affect learning.”
What is the difference between direct and indirect evidence?
Direct evidence is clear, tangible evidence that students have or have not learned. Examples include scores on licensure/certification exams, capstone experiences using a rubric, portfolios, etc.
Indirect evidence, on the other hand, provides signs that students are likely learning, but the proof that they are learning is not as clear or convincing. Examples include: course grades, survey results, test scores unaccompanied by a rubric, student evaluations, etc.
Who is responsible for conducting program level assessment?
Program level assessment is the responsibility of the faculty in the majors or programs being assessed. The assessment coordinator and the Assessment Council will provide their support and lend their expertise when needed.
Will assessment results be used to evaluate faculty?
No. Assessment of student learning is not an evaluation of faculty performance. The College has a separate process for this. Assessment is done by faculty in an academic department or program. In interpreting the results of an assessment measure, faculty might collectively decide to give more attention to certain outcomes, and might even recommend changes in pedagogy.
Is there a difference between assessment and evaluation?
Yes. Evaluation is the analysis and use of data by faculty to make judgments about student performance. Evaluation includes the determination of a grade or a decision regarding pass/fail for an individual assignment or a course. Assessment, on the other hand, is the analysis and use of data by students, faculty, and/or departments to make decisions about improvements in teaching and learning.
How does testing fit into an assessment plan?
Testing clearly has an important role in assessing student performance, but it is not the only assessment tool. For additional information on testing, click on the following link from Ball State University and reference Chapter 7.
What is the difference between student learning goals, objectives and outcomes?
Student learning goals are broad statement of desired outcomes - what we hope students will know and be able to do as a result of completing the program/course. Objectives are clear, brief statements used to describe specific measurable actions or tasks that learners will be able to perform at the conclusion of instructional activities. Learning outcomes are learning results - the end results -- the knowledge, skills, attitudes and habits of mind that students have or have not taken with them as a result of the students’ experience in the course(s) or program.
Why is it important for a syllabus to include course objectives? Shouldn't this already be understood by students?
Having clear learning objectives on syllabi help both students and instructors. For students, learning objective helps them know exactly what the expectations are upfront so they know what to do and how they will be evaluated. From the instructor’s viewpoint, it helps him/her focus assignments to meet the objectives of the course. They also aid in evaluating student work.
Where can I find more information on campus about assessment of student learning?
Additional information on assessment at Lehman College can be obtained by contacting Raymond Galinski, Assessment Coordinator, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-960-8645.
Where can I find examples of student learning outcomes in my discipline?
Examples of student learning outcomes can be found by searching the Internet for assessment resources in your discipline. Additional sources of learning outcomes may be found by consulting the professional societies and accrediting agencies listed on this website.
What is a curriculum map?
A curriculum map describes where learning opportunities throughout the program will occur. Examples may be found in the Assessment Toolkit portion of this web site.
Taskstream's (a/k/a Watermark) Accountability Management System (AMS) is a cloud-based system used for academic and administrative assessment planning and reporting. Taskstream allows departments to more efficiently monitor learning outcomes and program goals, and demonstrate how assessment data is used for continuous improvement. At Lehman, the system has been customized to meet College's annual assessment reporting cycle.
Who should use Taskstream?
Access to Taskstream's AMS is available to all faculty and staff, but use of the system will likely depend on each person's involvement in assessment related activities in a department. For academic programs, all faculty assessment coordinators and chairs are expected to use Taskstream regularly to make submissions, upload documents, and to monitor assessment reporting requirements. The Office of Assessment and the Dean's Offices will use the system to ensure that submissions are timely and meet the College's expectations. For Administrative departments, directors and/or assessment coordinators will interact with the system to submit annual assessment plans and reports.
How do I sign into Taskstream?
Go to https://www.watermarkinsights.com/. Click Login/Sign Up. Select the Taskstream tile. Enter your email address and password.
How do I obtain an account?
To obtain a Taskstream account for the first time, please email Raymond Galinski and Donald Sutherland. Please indicate the department or program you would like access to. If you previously had access and do not remember your password, please click on the Forgot Login? link on the Taskstream home page and complete the necessary information. A temporary password will be emailed to you. Please note that the password is not the same as your Lehman College email account.
What information should be reports in Taskstream?
The primary purpose of Taskstream's AMS is to monitor achievement learning outcomes and program goals and to demonstrate how assessment data is used for continuous improvement. To this end, several templates have been created in Taskstream to capture information relevant to monitoring a departments continuous improvement efforts. These include the following:
- Mission Statement
- Goals/Objectives (Outcomes)
- Curriculum / Activity Map
Annual Assessment Cycles
- Assessment Plan/Methods
- Assessment Findings
- Action / Operational Plan
- Status Report
Where do I obtain information on how to use Taskstream?Additional information on the use of Taskstream's ASM can be obtained from several places.
1. Email Raymond Galinski and Donald Sutherland in the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment
2. Contact the Assessment Coordinator assigned to you department
3. Attend one of the training sessions offered periodically throughout the year
4. Watch the videos on Taskstream basics below: