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Innovation, Learning, and Effectiveness

Faculty Resource Guide: Assessment

Guide for full and part time faculty

Academic Assessment


What is Academic Assessment?

In the words of Tom Angelo; "Assessment is an ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving student learning. It involves making our expectations explicit and public; setting appropriate criteria and high standards for learning quality; systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well performance matches those expectations and standards; and using the resulting information to document, explain, and improve performance. When it is embedded effectively within larger institutional systems, assessment can help us focus our collective attention, examine our assumptions, and create a shared academic culture dedicated to assuring and improving the quality of higher education."

Briefly it may be described as "… systematic collection of information about student learning, using the time, knowledge, expertise, and resources available, in order to inform decisions that affect student learning." (Walvoord, 2010, p. 2).


What does Academic Assessment involve?

  • Setting explicit goals (outcomes or objectives). What do we want students to be able to do?
  • Gathering information. How well are students attaining the goals and what is influencing their learning?
  • Taking Action. How can we use the information to improve student learning?


General Education Limited Distribution Core

All courses included in the Limited Distribution Core are assessed every time they are taught, though not every outcome may be assessed every semester.  All sections of a Limited Distribution Core course must teach and assess the same learning outcomes, sharing some common assessment practices.  Evidence documenting student performance will be submitted by all full- and part-time faculty members every year.

Teaching & Assessing the Outcomes:  All general education Limited Distribution Core courses must teach and assess a significant number of the sub-outcomes which comprise the seven general education outcomes listed below:

  1. communicate in oral and written English
  2. critical thinking
  3. information literacy
  4. technological literacy

Discipline Specific Outcomes:  In addition to the four outcomes taught and assessed in all general education courses, the Program’s discipline specific outcomes will be addressed through approved courses in the following categories:

  1. scientific and quantitative reasoning
  2. diverse perspectives
  3. values / ethical behavior

What are guiding principles and good practices of Academic Assessment?

1) Assessments should be varied and include formal and informal evaluations.

  • Provide formative and summative assessments
  • Provide quality feedback information (timely grading/responses; meaningful critiques)
  • Encourage peer and instructor dialog through various mediums and mechanisms

2) Assessments should measure the level of student success, and measure students' attainment of learning outcomes.

  • There should be a connection between the way students learn material and the way they are tested on it.
  • Facilitate student self-assessment (journals, essays)

3) Assessments and evaluation plans should be clearly laid out to students at the beginning of a course.

  • Clarify what good performance is through clear grading criteria (i.e. rubrics)


Some important Academic Assessment Terms:

Locally developed- internally developed by members of academic programs (courses) to measure student learning tied to specific learning outcomes.
Externally developed- published tests; established reliability and validity; can use for norm-referencing; do not align well with specific learning outcomes.
Embedded Assessments- classroom assignments
Performance Assessment- student activities or products; construct own response (essentially anything but tests or surveys)
Authentic Assessment- “task should meet a higher standard: they should demonstrate learning directly related to the nature of the discipline in which students are engaged and reflect the outcome of being assessed.” (Banta and Palomba, 2014).

Academic Assessment Timeline


Faculty Contracts Begin- August 16th

Summer Assessment Data Due- August 31st

PDF of Anticipated Course SLO Reporting for Fall Sent to All Faculty- Sept 10th

Yearly Course Lead List Due- September 15th

Any Changes in Fall SLO Reporting Sent to Assessment Coordinator Due- Sept 25th All changes for Fall must be made by this date before assignments are email out.

TracDat Fall Reporting Email Sent to Faculty- September 30th

Fall Assessment Data Due- December 31st

PDF of Anticipated Course SLO Reporting for Winter Sent to All Teaching Faculty- Jan 5th

Any Changes in Winter SLO Reporting Sent to Assessment Coordinator Due- Jan 7th All changes for Winter must be made by this date before assignments are email out.

TracDat Winter Reporting Email Sent to Faculty- Jan 10th

Email sent to Deans with Update Regarding Missing Assessment Assignments Sent- Jan 16th

Winter Assessment Data Due- January 31st

PDF of Anticipated Course SLO Reporting for Spring Sent to All Faculty- Feb 10th

Any Changes in Spring SLO Reporting Sent to Assessment Coordinator Due- Feb 25th All changes for Spring must be made by this date before assignments are email out.

TracDat Spring Reporting Email Sent to Faculty- February 28th

Spring Assessment Data Due- May 31st

Faculty Contracts Ends- May 31st

PDF of Anticipated Course SLO Reporting for Summer Sent to All Teaching Faculty- June 15th

Email sent to Deans with Update Regarding Missing Assessment Assignments Sent- June 16th

Any Changes in Summer SLO Reporting Sent to Assessment Coordinator Due- June 30th All changes for Spring must be made by this date before assignments are email out.

TracDat Summer Reporting Email Sent to Faculty- July 15th


The Academic Assessment Process


Pre-Assessment Process:

  • All courses must participate in assessment.
  • Course Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) map to Program Outcomes (where applicable) and General Education Competencies.
  • Limited Distribution Core General Education Courses map to the General Education Competencies using the 4+1 standard.
  • Non-Limited Distribution Core General Education Courses map to the General Education Competencies that best align with course content.
  • Upon completion of the Course SLO mapping requirement, Assessment Dates will be put in place for all Course SLOs.
  • New courses must complete all of the above work before being brought to the Academic Programs & Curriculum Committee for Approval
  • Existing course must go through the above process any time Course SLOs are altered.


Assessment Process:

  • All courses must report Academic Assessment data for all Course SLOs at least once during a 5-year cycle.
  • If students do not meet proficiency standards (see below) for a specific Course SLO, that SLO must report data a second time during the same 5-year cycle. Furthermore documentation of a proposed action to improve student learning must be given.
  • Proficiency is defined as a minimum of 70% of students will achieve a 70% (C) or higher on the designated measurement of competency.
  • During a reporting cycle the Course Lead is responsible for collecting assessment data from all sections and instructors and reporting it based on the above timeline.
  • Assessment tools (i.e. assignments) are required to be submitted with every assessment report.
  • A semi-random process will determine when student work must also be submitted with the assessment report.


Follow-Up Process:

  • All SLO improvement actions will be collated by the Academic Assessment Director.
  • Improvement actions will be periodically distributed to the necessary Course Leads or Program Directors.
  • Faculty will be referred to the necessary parties on campus (e.g. Instructional Design, Student Success, Institutional Committees, etc.) in order to complete the required improvement actions.
  • Documentation will be collected to ensure the improvement action has been completed. Results from these actions fill be found in the follow-up assessment reports.


Resources and Support

Director of Assessment:

Dr. Charles Lartey
410-822-5400 ext. 3414
Office: LRC 225


Research and Assessment Analyst

Emily Tipton
410-822-5400 ext. 2352
Office: LRC 219


Resources from National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment 

Brief Guide to Creating Learning Outcomes

Writing and Evaluating Outcomes

Blooms Taxonomy of Measurable Verbs

Writing SMART Outcomes

All-in-One Model Of Assessment

Quick Review of Formative and Summative Assessment

Formative Assessment:

• Assist in student learning
• Inform decisions about instruction
• Provide specific information about students’ strengths and difficulties with learning
• Provide the benefit of feedback and advice to students
• Student training in self-assessment
• The “task” needs to be an accurate measure of the SLO
• Scoring guide or rubric
• Set of administration guidelines
• Ability to aggregate data

Examples of Formative Assessment:

• Question and Answer
• Observation
• Discussion
• Journals
• Practice Assignments
• Assignments
• Applications
• Four corners
• Individual White Board
• Review
• Index cards
• Check lists
• Self-evaluation
• One minute essay
• Exit slips

Summative Assessment

• Demonstrate individual achievement
• Determine is a student has attained a certain level of competency
• Comparative information
•Be sure the assessment is measuring your actual SLOs
•Is item analysis, grouping, and other specific information available 

Examples of Summative Assessment

• Test, Exam
• Portfolio Review
• Term Paper
• Final Project
• Research Paper
• Debate
• Literary Critique
• Unit Project
• Presentation