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Step 8: Take action based on those findings Assessment results are meant to be used: to improve teaching and inform decision-making and resource allocation. Once assessment results have been collected and analyzed, faculty need to return to the department or program’s learning goals – how do the results of the assessment meet those expectations?
Were the standards that were set appropriate? Should performance expectations be changed? What aspects of the assessment process worked well and what changes might make it more effective? What were the most effective assessment tools? Can they be shared and used in other courses or programs?
Examples of some of the changes departments and programs might take include:
• Increasing the credit value of a key course, or divide a course into two courses
• Developing a capstone course
• Requiring students in their last semester to complete an independent project
• Developing rubrics with which faculty teams can better review students’ projects
• Hiring or re-assigning faculty
• Increasing classroom space
• Adding new courses
• Re-designing the curriculum
• Increasing contacts with alumni
• Improving the website
• Providing training to faculty and staff Keep track of planned changes to teaching practices, the curriculum, or other aspects of your program based on assessment results, those changes that have already been carried out in response to assessment results, and the impact those changes had on student learning and performance.
Assessment results are important evidence on which to base requests for additional funding, curriculum changes, new faculty lines, and more. Most importantly, the use of assessment results to make these kinds of changes to improve student learning and inform decision-making and planning is the reason why we assess.
Even negative assessment results can have powerful, positive impact when they are used to improve the learning process.
Curriculum Matrix This matrix can be used to assist curriculum planners in developing curricula that provides all students with at least one, and preferably more than one, learning experience to gain the knowledge, skills and values detailed in each outcome.
This matrix can be used to assist in the development of course outcomes and syllabi. Course learning outcomes should be listed at the start of each course syllabus.
Learning Learning Learning Learning Learning Outcome Outcome Outcome Outcome Outcome #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 IENG 010 IENG 020 IENG 020 Learning Learning Learning Learning Learning Outcome Outcome Outcome Outcome Outcome
Rubrics/Scoring Guidelines Rubrics are one of the most powerful tools we have to assess progress toward achievement of specific skills or outcomes.
What is a rubric? A rubric is a criteria-based scoring guideline that can be used to evaluate student performance.
How is it used? It is given to the student at the time the assignment is given, to guide his/her work, and it is used by the person evaluating the assignment as the basis on which to judge the student’s work.
Why use scoring guidelines (rubrics)?
1. They help students understand your expectations.
2. They can result in better performance, because they show students what exactly what the faculty member is looking for in an outstanding performance.
3. They make scoring easier and faster, because they give faculty members reminders of what they are looking for and the faculty members don’t need to write as many comments.
4. They make scoring more accurate, consistent, and unbiased. Students immediately understand where they did well and where they went wrong, reducing arguments and debates over grades.
5. They give faculty members a better understanding of where students are at in terms of a particular concept or skill. (Suskie 2004) When constructing a rubric, it can also be helpful to ask six questions (Huba and Freed 2000):
1. What criteria or essential elements must be present in the student’s work to ensure it is high quality? These should distinguish good work from poor work.
2. How many levels of achievement do I wish to have for students, e.g. five levels from outstanding to poor, four levels from exemplary to unacceptable, etc.?
3. For each level, what is a clear description of performance at that level?
4. What are the consequences for performance at each level?
5. What rating scheme will be used? How many points will be assigned to each level and what weight will be given to each of the criteria?
6. What worked well, and how can the rubric be improved for use next time?
Rubrics are especially useful when more than one person will be grading a student’s performance, to ensure that all graders are evaluating the performance by the same criteria.
Many faculty members from universities around the world make their rubrics freely available online, to serve as a guide or starting point for other instructors. AUC IPART’s Assessment website (http://ipart.aucegypt.edu) has an extensive list of these rubrics by discipline, as well as rubric templates, rubric generators, and guides.
Faculty members can use these to gather feedback about a single lecture or discussion. Results can be shared with students at the next lecture and used to help the faculty member target the gaps in the students’ knowledge Review Team Report Responses 2009 Page 42 or understanding of a topic. These can become a regular activity in each class, and some can be adapted to be used online.
The Minute Paper – This is usually administered during the last two or three minutes of class. Instructors ask students to respond to questions like, “What was the most important thing you learned during this class?” “What important question remains unanswered?” Students write their responses anonymously on a half-sheet of paper or an index card and return them to the instructor. The instructor should provide feedback to the class during the next class period. (See sample below.) Email Minute – The instructor sends a summary of responses to the minute paper to the class, or distributes the questions in class and asks students to respond through email.
Muddiest Point – This CAT is like the minute paper, except the instructor asks, “What was the muddiest point in ____?” or “What is the one concept covered in today’s class that you are still unclear about?” The instructor collects the responses and communicates the results to students during the next class period.
One Sentence Summary – Focusing on a particular topic, the instructor asks students to summarize the topic in one sentence, answering the questions “who does what to whom, when, where, how and why?” This CAT tests comprehension and encourages students to focus on key questions as they read.
Direct Paraphrasing – The instructor asks students to paraphrase part of a topic. They can also be asked to role-play (e.g. “Assume you are advisor to Harry Truman and have only 5 minutes to press him to consider alternatives to using the bomb on Japan.”). Students can be assessed on whether the paraphrasing was accurate, relevant to the intended audience, and effective.
Application Cards – The instructor hands out index cards and asks students to write down at least one real world application for what they have just learned. This generally takes no more than three to five minutes.
Post-Instruction Inventory – Once a new concept has been introduced, students describe how their perceptions or practices have changed.
One of the best sources for assessment tools is Angelo and Cross’ book Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers.
Sample Minute Paper Course____________________ Date___________
Student Portfolios Portfolios are a tool for students to collect their work that demonstrates progress and achievement and reflect upon their experiences and accomplishments either in a course, a program or throughout their university years.
Review Team Report Responses 2009 Page 43 Graduates can present themselves professionally through their portfolios as they apply for graduate and work opportunities. The types or work generally included in the portfolio are research papers and other reports, multiple choice or essay examinations, self-evaluations, personal essays, journals, computational exercises and problems, case studies, audiotapes, videotapes, and short-answer quizzes. Portfolios are often structured so that the student self-selects the items to be included and may be required to document, for each selection, the reason why the item was selected, strengths and weaknesses, and the achievement or progress it represents.
Portfolio evaluation is a useful assessment tool because it allows faculty to analyze an entire scope of student work in a timely fashion. Portfolios used to assess writing skills, for example, can include a range of assignments that demonstrate progress towards goals and specific skill sets. For language programs, videotapes of students speaking the language in the classroom can be used to demonstrate conversational skills; for professional programs, they can be used to demonstrate proficiency and development of specific skill sets.
Collecting student work over time gives departments a unique opportunity to assess a students' progression in acquiring a variety of learning objectives and can provide valuable information about students' skills, knowledge, development, quality of writing, and critical thinking.
The following websites provide additional information and samples:
Review Team Report Responses 2009 Page 46