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Assessment Terms

Assessment Terms


Assessment is a form of research that allows for systematic evaluation of the extent to which a course or program meets its objectives (goals) and outcomes.

Course Embedded Assessment includes those assessment techniques contained within a course. Instructors design these direct assessment measures of student learning outcomes as integrated components of the class experience. The students are not required to do any additional work.

Direct Evidence or Measures of student learning documents student performance – what students can do as a result of their learning experience. Examples include: student work, performances, capstone projects, portfolios, tests graded with a rubric, evaluations, and scores on standardized tests. Third-party responses that report on individual students are also considered direct evidence.

Formative Assessment takes place during a course, relies on student feedback, and assesses how the students are learning. It gives the instructor chances to respond to student needs through modification of content, instructional approach or environment. Its focus is to improve program delivery.

Goals/objectives are broad, general statements about what students should be able to do and know.

Indirect Evidence or Measures of student learning documents student learning indirectly through self-reports, surveys, opinion-gathering tools, and third-party responses such as employers who report on many graduates of a program or the college. The best assessment practices include both direct and indirect evidence or measures.

Outcomes are the observable and measurable results or evidence of the educational experience. They are more detailed and specific than objectives/goals and they define what the student can do.

Portfolio is a purposeful collection of selected student work that demonstrates student growth or achievement.

Rubric is an assessment tool developed by faculty and shared with students. It establishes clear criteria for the grading of student work.

Summative Assessment occurs at the end of a learning experience and seeks to assess the achievement of its stated outcomes. It has more of an accountability focus.


[Assessment Terms section adapted from materials developed by North Carolina State University and the University of Washington]

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