Assessment is not magic. Simply assessing student learning will not automatically lead to improvements in student success. But if you buy into the underlying premise of assessment, it can be a powerful tool to strengthen the student experience.
Although terms like “assessment” and “student learning” may call to mind a classroom setting, every employee on a college campus is an educator. Student learning occurs in formal and informal settings in and out of the classroom. All employees, no matter their role at the college, can and should be involved in student learning assessment. Here’s how to do it.
Start with One Thing
Assessment challenges you to identify the one thing that – if students knew it or understood it or could do it – would have the greatest impact on their success. It is also worth considering how addressing this one thing may positively benefit your or your employees’ experience.
Once you have identified one or more possible ideas to pursue, ask yourself three questions:
- Is it within your control? Is your department responsible for student learning in this area? If yes, move onto the next question. If no, share your suggestion with the appropriate person or department. Your idea may be the key to their one thing.
- Is it malleable? Do you have the power to change it through an educational or behavioral intervention? If yes, move on to the next question. If no, save the idea for later and consider a different one thing.
- Is it feasible? Is it realistic to implement given the time and resources you have available? If yes, keep going. If no, save the idea for later and consider a different one thing.
If you answered Yes to all three questions, make it happen.
Idea to Implementation
The Assessment Team can help you move from idea to implementation. We are connected to resources and departments across the college like the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Engagement, the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council.
Additionally, we can walk you through the following steps in the implementation process:
- Motivation: How do you know students need support with _____?
- Intervention: How could you help students with _____?
- Assessment: If you helped students with _____, how will you know it worked?
- Sharing: How can others learn from your experience helping students with _____?
Share Your Experience
There will be times that the Assessment Team will ask you to select one thing to apply to your course, activity, event, workshop, program, and more. And we will want a written report. But the purpose of any report is to document and share the work of our community with our community. Even if you are not engaging in this type of formal assessment, finding ways to publicly share how you have improved the student learning experience benefits us all.
The Next One Thing
Upon further reflection, assessment may be a bit magical. Just like the magician who pulls a neverending handkerchief from their pocket, there is always the next one thing to implement as we continually strive to strengthen student success.
Credit to Sara Finney and Gavin Henning’s 2021 AALHE presentation on “Using Program Theory and Implementation Fidelity to Guide Equity-Minded Assessment” for the introduction to the concepts of malleability and feasibility in student learning outcome assessment.