Assessment is what we do in order to identify strengths and weaknesses within a program. This is conducted by using student assignments to tell us if we are upholding our promise to develop the knowledge and skills we promised the students the program would deliver. This allows for continuous programmatic improvement via the continuous improvement cycle. Below maps out a diagram of what assessment process and the continuous improvement cycle look like.
The diagram indicates 4 main reinforcing elements of the continuous improvement process:
Confusion surrounding the issue of grading versus assessment has contributed to inaccurate data gathering that provided information of little use when evaluating learning outcomes for programs as a whole. Faculty and administrators often used grading and assessment interchangeably. As a result, it was important to dispel this misunderstanding. Establishing a clear different between grading and assessment was important to gathering meaningful data.
In brief, grading consists of the score the student receives based on a set of criteria. Contrastingly, assessment consist of looking at data from only ONE element of the entire sent of criteria making up the student’s grade and aggregating that particular score across a number of students to get an understanding of student proficiency on a particular learning objective.
For example, a capstone project may include a research paper, data analysis and an oral presentation. The student’s grade will consist of the score of all three components combined. Assessment on a particular learning objective, let’s use written communication for this example, will consist of: