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Module Eleven: Methods and Criteria
The second step in the Assessment Process is to identify your methods and criteria for success.
Determining Assessment Methods

Determine Student Learning Outcomes

Once you have created your student learning outcomes (SLO), you want to decide the best method to determine your students’ level of success. Your assessment methods should align with your student learning outcomes to provide you with the data you need to measure your students’ achievement of knowledge and skills.

Sample SLO: Students will demonstrate the ability to incorporate scholarly sources in course papers.

Non-aligned Assessment Method: Evaluate a sample of student essays in 4000 level courses using a 5-point rubric to measure written communication skills. (Measuring written communication skills will not assess the students’ abilities to incorporate scholarly sources.)

Aligned Assessment Method: Evaluate a sample of student essays in 4000 level courses using a 5-point rubric to measure use of proper documentation style. (Measuring the use of the proper documentation style will assess the students’ abilities to incorporate scholarly sources.)

Types of Assessment Methods

There are two different types of assessment methods to evaluate your students’ knowledge and skills.

 
The direct assessment method assesses students’ knowledge and skills with quantifiable data provided by an assignment, project, or test.
Examples:
  • Portfolios
  • Tests, Exams, Quizzes
  • Pre-Test/Post-Test Evaluations
  • Student Presentations
  • Scoring Rubrics
  • Peer Evaluations
  • Research Paper
  • Capstone Project
The indirect assessment method assesses students’ knowledge and skills based on inferences by the instructor or observer.
  • Surveys
  • Observations
  • Interviews
  • Syllabus analysis

An advantage of using direct assessment methods is the concrete evidence that is provided. Because indirect assessments rely on inferences, the data is only as good as the instrument and the assessor. Answers provided by indirect measures do not always adequately measure the extent to which students have attained the learning outcomes. As a result, most authorities recommend using the direct method (Lindholm, 2009) and perhaps supplementing it with meaningful indirect methods (Student Learning Assessment, 2007).

Avoid using course grades as your assessment method. They do not provide adequate measure of specific learning outcomes nor do they identify strengths and weaknesses

Method vs. Instrument

An assessment method is how you conduct your assessment; an assessment instrument is the product your students complete or submit. For example, a survey is a method and a questionnaire is the instrument you use to survey.

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Evidence

The data you collect from your assessment activities will be either in quantitative or qualitative form and both can be valid and reliable forms of evidence.

Quantitative Data

Qualitative Data

Valuable type of evidence to measure student outcomes

Valuable type of evidence to measure student outcomes

Form: Numerical 

Form: Category (simple categorization of individuals into discrete groups); prose or narrative form:

Advantage: Data represented numerically can then be compared or subjected to statistical analysis

Disadvantage: Data cannot be easily compared or subjected to statistical analysis

Disadvantage: Not as “rich” as qualitative data

Advantage: Provide a more extensive variety of information, as in student comments which provide perceptions and attitudes.

Advantage: Easier to collect and analyze

Disadvantage: Must be sorted, categorized, and interpreted

Source: Student Learning Assessment: Options and Resources, Middle States Commission of Higher Education, 2007

Criteria for Success

When you identify your criteria for success, you are establishing performance targets and indicators of measures. At what level will students’ performance be considered successful? To be useful, your criteria should be specific, measurable, achievable, and rigorous.

Sample Criteria
Internal criteria set by program faculty
  • The goal is that 70% of the students will score 60% or better across the audit risk assessment questions embedded on the final exam.
  • 80% of graduating students will achieve a score of 3.5 or higher on a 1-5 scale: 1. inadequate 2. adequate 3. good 4. very good 5. excellent.
  • 90% of students will receive faculty/supervisor ratings of "most of the time" and/or consistently on each of the assessments.
  • 100% of graduates will obtain the LSSP credential within one year of graduation (data on the jurisprudence exam will be obtained from graduates)
External criteria set by agency or organization
  • Students receiving a certification should pass the TEXES (240 out of 300).
  • 100% of interns receive a passing score on the PRAXIS II national exam.
 
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