This is a navigation button. Understanding Assessment
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Home > Understanding Assessment


UNDERSTANDING ASSESSMENT

Assessment is the process of systematically planning, implementing and evaluating instruction, student services and administrative services in order to make decisions that support and improve student learning.

There are many forms of assessment, and the measurement of learning outcomes is one approach. When learning about outcomes assessment much should seem familiar, as Southwestern College has been conducting various types of assessments since the institution’s inception.

Learning outcomes are simply goals. They state, specifically, the ends of a process (rather than the means) that should be met. They describe what students should be able to do after participating in a course, program or service from the college.

The assessment process involves:
  1. Writing outcomes

  2. Communicating outcomes (including providing instruction and/or services)

  3.  Measuring outcomes and collecting aggregated data

  4. Storing aggregated data

  5. Meeting to discuss and analyze aggregated data

  6. Creating a plan or plans for improvement

  7. Implementing new plan(s) and collecting more data (which restarts the cycle)
This is a picture of instructors in a library, some sitting in a circle while a male instructor reads to them.

Assessment is an ongoing, cyclical process.
  • Assessments should be conducted throughout the academic year in classes and during services.

  • Assessment results are reported annually as part of Program Review.

  • Assessment results are included in the decision-making processes on campus including decisions regarding curriculum, budget allocation, technology needs, and the allocation of space.

Although the term “assessment” has been used synonymously with “measurement,” they are not the same. The act of measuring an outcome is only one part of the assessment process.

Assessment The process of systematically planning, implementing and evaluating instruction, student services and administrative services in order to make decisions that support and improve student learning. (see steps in the “Assessment Process” above)
Measurement Refers to using measurement tools (e.g, tests, questionnaires, performances) to gather information of what students have learned. It is only one step in the assessment process.

The end result of assessment is to improve student learning and services. If action is not taken on the data collected then assessment process is incomplete and the collection of assessment data is futile. Please don’t waste time collecting information that will simply sit in a file, only assessment data that will be used should be collected.

The purpose of the assessment process is the improvement of courses, programs and services to improve student learning. According to Southwestern College Policy and Procedures 4350 (I will send you the .pdfs. Links to .pdfs will need to be created)


Assessment data cannot be used in the following ways:
  • Punitively or as a means of determining faculty or staff salaries or rewards;

  • To impinge upon the Academic Freedom or professional rights of faculty established in the education code;

  • To evaluate the end of the student’s experience or merely to be accountable to outside parties;

  • As a single mode of assessment to answer all questions or strictly determine program decisions.

Assessment data will be used to:
  • Inform teaching practices;

  • Improve student services;

  • Guide the design of courses, programs, co-curricular programs and units.

  • Aid decision-making processes regarding curriculum, budget allocation, technology needs, and the allocation of space.

The assessment of outcomes falls under the category of “action research.” Its specific purpose is to inform and to improve practices. While the collection of data should be systematic and disciplined, its aim is not to collect empirical and generalizable data for controlled scientific inquiry. The data collected should be reliable enough so that your unit at SWC can make informed decisions, but does not need to be generalizable beyond your area or our campus.

This is a picture hyperlink to the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges website. “The ACCJC has indicated its position that outcomes assessment is not an optional activity, but rather an obligation to be included in the regular work activities of faculty and other college personnel and a practice that should be incorporated into decision making and other processes of all colleges” (ASCCC, 2010).

With the improved organizational structure at SWC, data from outcomes assessment is now integrated into all decision-making processes on campus including decisions regarding budget, technology, allocation of space, and hiring. The reporting of outcomes assessment has become an integral part of Program Review.

For more detail, please refer to:
This is a picture hyperlink to the SWC Policy 4350
This is a picture hyperlink to the SWC Policy 4350
This is a picture hyperlink to the SWC Policy 4350
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