New to Assessment?
First time exploring the field of assessment? Fear not. We put together a collection of open-access resources introducing the basics of assessing student learning. We recommend starting here, and then exploring and supplementing these resources with materials that are relevant to your specific practice questions and audiences.
Conversations around assessment—akin to higher education in general—can quickly become jargon filled. Thus a good starting point involves an overview of key terms and acronyms.
Our Acronym List takes the guess work out of what the acronyms for which accrediting agencies and assessment-related organizations stand. It is not an exhaustive list, but does provide a quick, painless reference point.
Our Assessment Glossary contains definitions to terms and concepts you are likely to encounter in assessment literature, practice, conferences, and conversations.
Our Assessment Journal list provides an overview of scholarly journals and sources of information on assessment related literature.
Here are additional resources that can be useful as you begin to delve into the assessment landscape including listservs, blogs, and communities of practice.
While most institutions will have information on writing learning outcome statements on an assessment website or center for teaching and learning website, we have compiled a sampling of a few different resources on various perspectives and approaches to writing learning outcome statements.
- A Brief Introduction to Creating Learning Outcomes by NILOA coach, Joe Levy
- Verbs that are useful for writing learning outcomes
- Learning Goals and Their Role in Course Design
- Evaluating the Strength of Learning Outcomes
- Information on Writing SMART Learning Outcomes
The following resources provide a foundational understanding of assessment to inform the way you approach assessment work. Included are discussions on accreditation, assessment for accountability vs improvement, sources of evidence, and the relationship between assessment and pedagogy.
- A Brief History of Assessment
- Assessment, Accountability, and Improvement: Revisiting the Tension
- Regional Accreditation and Student Learning Outcomes: Mapping the Territory
- Higher Education Quality: Why Documenting Learning Matters
- Unpacking Relationships: Instruction and Student Outcomes
- Changing Institutional Culture to Promote Assessment of Higher Learning
- Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education
In order to know where you are going, we think it is helpful to know where we’ve been and currently are as a field. These resources provide an overview of the assessment landscape using findings from three iterations of a national NILOA survey of provosts, and more.
- Assessment that Matters: Trending toward Practices that Document Authentic Student Learning
- Knowing What Students Know and Can Do: The Current State of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment in US Colleges and Universities
- More than You Think, Less than We Need: Learning Outcomes Assessment in American Higher Education
- NILOA at Ten: A Retrospective
Simply transplanting assessment practices from another institution into yours does not mean they will yield similar results. However, the lessons learned and questions asked along the assessment process can be adapted to fit your context. The following examples provide thoughtful examples and considerations to make when conducting assessment and using evidence for improvement.
- Assessment 2.0: An Organic Supplement to Standard Assessment Procedure
- Using Assessment Results: Promising Practices of Institutions that Do It Well
- All-in-One: Combining Grading, Course, Program, and General Education Outcomes Assessment
- A Simple Model for Learning Improvement: Weigh Pig, Feed Pig, Weigh Pig
- Using ePortfolio to Document and Deepen the Impact of HIPs on Learning Dispositions
There are various stakeholders whom play a role in assessment. The following resources provide insight on considerations different stakeholders should make in assessment.
- What Faculty Need to Know About Assessment
- What New Student Affairs Professionals and Those New to Assessment Need to Know
- Governmental Policy and the Systemic Assessment of Student Learning
- The Governing Board’s Role in Assessment
- What Students Need to Know About Assessment
- A Portrait of the Assessment Professional in the United States:
Results from a National Survey
- Gaining Ground: The Role of Institutional Research in Assessing Student Outcomes and Demonstrating Institutional Effectiveness
- Creating Student-Centered Learning Environments and Changing Teaching Culture: Purdue University’s IMPACT Program
A significant element of assessment is transparency: sharing assessment data with various stakeholders and being open about the process. The following resources can help focus your thinking around transparency as it relates to assessment.
Learning frameworks are tools that help specify learning outcomes or skills that learners have acquired while facilitating their transfer from one context to the next. Learning frameworks play an important role in determining what students know and can do. The following resources provide an overview of learning frameworks and their relation to assessment.
- Interconnected Learning Frameworks
- Learning Frameworks: Tools for Building a Better Educational Experience
- The Degree Qualifications Profile: What It Is and Why We Need It Now
- The Lumina Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP): Implications for Assessment
- Using the Degree Qualifications Profile to Foster Meaningful Change
- Tuning: A Guide for Creating Discipline-Specific Frameworks to Foster Meaningful Change
Assessment Modules from the Learning Assessment Research Consortium (LARC)