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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

9 Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning (AAHE)

Taken from American Association for Higher Education 
(this blog post is for personal review for my upcoming comprehensive exam)

Principle 1: The assessment of student learning begins with educational values

  • Assessment is a vehicle for educational improvement.
  • Assessment enacts a vision of the kinds of learning we most value for students 
  • Educational values should not only drive what we choose to assess but also how to do so
  • Assessment is a process of improving what we really care about

Principle 2: Assessment is most effective when it reflects an understanding of learning as multidimensional, integrated, and revealed in performance over time.

  • Assessment not only show what students know but what they can do with what they know
  • Assessment not only involves knowledge and abilities but values, attitudes, and habits of mind that affect both academic success and performance beyond the classroom
  • Assessment should reflect these understandings by employing a diverse array of methods. including those that call for actual performance

Principle 3: Assessment works best when the programs it seeks to improve have clear, explicitly stated purposes.

  • Assessment is a goal-oriented process. 
  • Assessment entails comparing educational performance and educational purposes and expectations
  • Assessment as a process pushes to clarify program purposes and prompts attention to where and how program goals will be taught and learned
  • Clear, shared, implementable goals are the cornerstone for assessment that is focused and useful

Principle 4: Assessment requires attention to outcomes but also and equally to the experiences that lead to those outcomes

  • Information about outcomes is highly important but to improve outcomes we need to know about student experiences
  • Assessment can help understand which students learn and best under what conditions
Principle 5: Assessment works best when it is ongoing not episodic
  • Assessment is a process whose power is cumulative
  • Improvement is fostered when assessment entails a linked series of activities undertaken over time.
  • The point is to monitor progress toward intended goals in a spirit of continuous improvement
  • Assessment process itself should be evaluated and refined in light of emerging insights
Principle 6: Assessment fosters wider improvement when representatives from across the educational community are involved
  • Student learning is a campus-wide responsibility
  • Assessment is not a task for small groups of experts but a collaborative activity
  • It's aim is wider, better-informed attention to student learning
Principle 7: Assessment makes a difference when it begins with issues of use and illuminates questions that people really care about
  • Assessment recognizes the value of information in the process of improvement but information must be connected to issues or questions that people really care about.
  • It means thinking in advance how the information will be used and by whom
  • The point of assessment is not to gather data and return results; it is a process that starts with the questions of decision-makers, that involves them in the gathering and interpreting of data and that informs and helps guide continuous improvement
Principle 8: Assessment is most likely to lead to improvement when it is part of larger set of conditions that promote change
  • Assessment along changes little but it's greatest contribution comes on campuses where the quality of teaching and learning is visibly valued and worked at
  • Information about learning outcomes is seen as an integral part of decision making, and avidly sought
Principle 9: Through assessment, educators meet responsibilities to students and to the public
  • As educators, we have a responsibility to the public that support or depend on us to provide information about the ways in which our students meet goals and expectations. 
  • But that responsibility goes beyond reporting of such information; our deeper obligation is to improve

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