Statement of Foundations for Learning Assessment

Definition

Assessment is the ongoing process of collecting, reviewing, and using information to improve learning outcomes. It is a transformative cycle of development, measurement, and reflection for the benefit of teacher and learner. From an institutional perspective, learning assessment is a systematic approach to data-based decision making for educational improvement. The systematic practice of assessment represents an institutional commitment to professional practice that provides great opportunities to improve instructional, programmatic, and service quality.

Purpose

When used for instructional improvement, learning assessment helps instructors and administrators determine their effectiveness in reaching educational objectives, while encouraging students to more actively engage in the teaching and learning relationship. Assessment encourages instructors to clarify expectations for learning, to develop pedagogical methods that help them document evidence of actual learning during the learning experience, and to become more reflective practitioners. It provides instructors with ongoing feedback on their teaching effectiveness and affords opportunities to adjust teaching practices to improve student outcomes. It is not an evaluation of individual students or of individual faculty, instructors, or staff.

When used for programmatic and institutional improvement, assessment provides feedback to the individual instructors, the department, school/college, and administrative unit on the effectiveness of curriculum, learning processes, and student services, etc. Assessment, then, becomes a catalyst for individual units to improve the delivery and outcomes of their programs.

Via assessment, individual instructors and central administration can develop and use methods that elicit the information needed to determine the quality of the learning experience. When appropriate, such information may also be shared with other stakeholders to demonstrate our progress toward appropriate educational goals, thus responding to the requirements of accreditation, licensing, and public accountability.

Methods

Learning assessment is driven by data–the collection, analysis, interpretation, and use of both qualitative and quantitative information gathered at multiple points in the teaching and learning process as well as from multiple layers of the institution. The methods and measures used in learning assessment are framed by the academy┬┐s diversity of disciplines and educational objectives.

Effective assessment thus involves:

Over time, individual and institutional assessment strategies will become integrated into teaching and learning, thereby providing the consistent feedback needed to achieve instructional and programmatic improvement and to increase student outcomes.

Adopted by the Twin Cities Learning Assesment Council, May 16, 2003