Assessment Debate

There have been several articles published recently about the usefulness and efficacy of assessment in higher education. I won’t join the debate, partly because so much is dependent on the system of assessment that the culture of the institution has established. Assessment by its very nature is not monolithic. I will however, share some thoughts on how to make assessment meaningful here at JCCC: in your program and in your classroom.   To make Assessment meaningful and not a matter of compliance, I recommend focusing on three things:   Focus on the good it can provide students, rather than the work it generates. I am not denying assessment can take additional time to implement and evaluate, but a good assessment can help identify places in the curriculum where students are struggling and can lead faculty to develop additional resources and teaching practices to support student learning. Additionally, a strong assessment can fully integrate into the curriculum plan of the course; it shouldn’t and doesn’t have to stand Continue reading Assessment Debate

Down & Dirty with Bloom’s Taxonomy

Somethings are worth revisiting – frequently!  We have previously done posts in the blog about Bloom’s Taxonomy, but I recently gave a presentation on using Bloom’s to build test questions on the appropriate learning level to a great group of CTE instructors. I thought it would be helpful to share again, both with those who are familiar with Bloom’s and those who may be unfamiliar with Blooms.  Below are some of the informational highlights.  What is Bloom’s Taxonomy? Simply speaking, a tool used to define and distinguish different levels of human cognition –  thinking, learning, and understanding.  How does Blooms Work? Before you can understand a concept, you must remember it. To apply a concept, you must first understand it. To evaluate a process, you must have analyzed it. To create an accurate conclusion, you must have completed a thorough evaluation.  What can you do with Bloom’s? Educators have typically used Bloom’s taxonomy to inform or guide the development of assessments (tests and other evaluations of student learning), curriculum (units, lessons, projects, and other learning activities), and instructional methods.  For example, if you are teaching an introductory course which is designed to build student’s foundational knowledge of a subject, your test questions should remain in Continue reading Down & Dirty with Bloom’s Taxonomy

New Year, New Day, New Assessment

The start of a new year is always an exciting time; the beginning of something fresh and new.  At least as of New Year’s day I hadn’t done anything yet to mess up my new year – I count that as success. In the new year we make resolutions and promises to ourselves of things we will do “right” this year.  I’m going to clear out my attic and make more healthy home-cooked meals.  I did not make a resolution about losing 15 pounds; that’s like a lifelong commitment! However, thinking about new year resolutions makes me wonder what types of resolutions might be made about assessment practices.  Below are a few of the ones I thought about, what can you add to the list? I resolve to take a look at my assessment results and do a trend analysis of all the data I’ve collected and ignored for the last 3 years. I resolve to align my assessment instrument Continue reading New Year, New Day, New Assessment

Full Disclosure

I recently led an assessment workshop that included both 2-year and 4-year faculty participants.  As part of the workshop, we discuss the assessment toolbox.  We discussed common tools like pre/posttests, embedded assessments, portfolios, standardized tests, and rubrics.   While all the tools can assist faculty in assessment activities, rubrics are a popular tool for both grading and assessment. One faculty member raised a question concerning whether or not to share rubrics with the students?  There was some lively discussion among the faculty on their practices and it was fairly evenly split between those who always shared their rubrics and those that didn’t.  I don’t have a strong stake in the decision to share rubrics, with one caveat – if the faculty members decides not to share a rubric, is there another document or description of the project that shares the requirements with the students?  Whether in the form of a rubric or a description within the syllabus, the most important task Continue reading Full Disclosure

Reporting Your Assessment

Growing up in Florida, theme parties were all the rage.  I attended lots of water themed parties – often dressed as a sea creature or mermaid.  In high school we would have themed days for service to the community or activities like Grandparents day, Band Parent Day, and Super Hero Day (you can guess who I dressed up as). I don’t see much emphasis on themes now, but I would like to bring back this proud tradition from my youth and propose one for the January Assessment World Café – Reporting Our Assessment!  Now there is a theme I can really support.  You’ve heard me say repeatedly that assessment reports provide a roadmap for curriculum decision and changes made in your courses/classroom, while providing my office with data to tell the story of student learning at the College. So as you are working on your assessment plans this Fall and Spring semester; plan now to attend the World Café and Continue reading Reporting Your Assessment

Assessment as Action

Assessment: the action or an instance of making a judgment about something. (Merriam-Webster) I teach a course for adjuncts at the college once each semester.  It is a three hour session that is part of an overall certification program for adjunct faculty.  I taught the class this week and found that most of my class had never taught before.  That was a bit surprising!  Usually I have a mix of faculty with experience at multiple schools or even years of experience at JCCC, but in this class I was introducing new faculty to the concept of assessment when they were still trying to figure out the basics of teaching! Because of the new faculty in the class, we went a little more in depth with some of the basics of evaluation, testing, and how to use assessment to improve teaching.  Actually, I used the word pedagogy to talk about teaching styles but that term was new to some of them Continue reading Assessment as Action

Assessment by the Book (Club)

I must confess – I am a book-a-holic.  Of course in the field of higher education, I am surrounded by others with the same problem.  Were it not for the invention of the e-reader, I am confident my home would now be completely overrun with my book collection and I would be fine with that! I am a firm believer the answer to many of life’s issues are housed in books, so this year we are trying a new experiment: a joint effort of the Assessment Office and the Faculty/Staff Development Office, we are hosting a faculty assessment book club. The book we are using for this inaugural offering is Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education, by Mary J. Allen.  Always a staple in our office, this book is a slim offering (8 chapters) packed with lots of great information on the basics of assessment.  Everything from defining learning objectives, direct assessment techniques, to making sense of assessment data.  This Continue reading Assessment by the Book (Club)