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The best assessments are direct measures of student learning. FCTL has information that may help when selecting assessment methods.

  • standardized exams - examinations produced by a government (state or federal) entity, an accrediting body (e.g., nursing licensure), or a testing agency (e.g., ETS Field tests). Valid and reliable instruments, or subsets of instruments, can assist in assessing programs when the standards upon which they are written are the same as those of the program.
  • locally developed exams - exams produced by faculty within a discipline. The Pre/Post Test is a locally developed test that measure students' incoming level of knowledge, skills, behaviors and attitudes and post program knowledge, skills, behaviors and attitudes can be used to measure students' gains.
  • embedded questions - set of locally developed questions intended to measure specific student learning outcomes. These are placed within tests of all sections of the same course. To track cognitive or skill development through a program, sets of embedded questions, with each expecting a higher level of proficiency than the previous, may be used across sequential courses.
  • external examiner or panel* - field experts (faculty, review board, mentors, etc.) observe a student performance or review a student product to determine the level of understanding and accomplishment demonstrated for a specific student learning outcome
  • oral exams* - exams where the student responds orally to a set of locally developed questions intended to measure specific student learning outcomes before a panel of faculty
  • rubrics designed to address the specific ALC areas - communication and critical thinking rubrics that specify key criteria and indicators of proficiency. These may be adapted for use within discipline specific assignments. (For communication, see sample Oral presentation: arguments rubric and English composition writing rubric.)
  • portfolio (with rubrics for individual elements) – a collection of students' work (e.g., writing, homework, etc.) over a period of time, that provides longitudinal information and an opportunity for student reflection. The work is scored by a portfolio committee or designated faculty members for the purpose of identifying where improvements in the program are needed.
  • behavioral observations* - an expert observer (often a supervisor) observes a practical application of a student learning outcome (e.g., within an internship or apprenticeship) and rates student performance
  • simulations* - student responses within scenarios designed to replicate "real-life" situations with the purpose of assessing student knowledge and understanding through application
    This may include role play and interaction among groups of students.
  • project evaluations* - can address several learning outcomes The criteria for each are specified along with proficiency indicators. These projects may be associated with capstone courses.
  • performance appraisals - an evaluation of applied knowledge and skills by a supervisor
    A set of appraisals may be used within a longer experience.

*To ensure inter-rater reliability, criteria for key skills are specified, as are indicators of levels of proficiency. Often, these are incorporated into rubrics or checklists that are used by all evaluators.

Click assessment resources for more assessment information from the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning.

Resource Links

Academic Learning Compacts
ALC Guidelines
Sample Academic Learning Compacts
BOG Directive
Academic Handbook
Program Assessment ALCs Presentation