Why Assess?

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Why Assess?


National assessment expert, Barbara Walvoord, points out that faculty assess all the time in our classes and programs.  We are constantly considering what worked well and didnít work well in our courses.  We use these observations to make changes in our teaching and our curriculum.  Formal Student Outcomes Assessment (SOA) takes our informal activities and makes them more systematic and public.  A number of specific benefits for faculty and students result:



Student Outcomes Assessment


Potential Benefit


SOA makes available richer data about the effect of courses and learning activities on students.






Faculty can engage in more productive conversations about student achievement (strengths and weaknesses) and make more informed decisions about future instructional developments.



SOA can yield reliable data about instruction.





Faculty can make informed decisions about innovations in teaching and share their successes more easily. 




SOA offers opportunities for department faculty to discuss learning outcomes specific to each of the courses they teach and link these with outcomes colleagues are pursuing in their courses



SOA can lead to more coherence and focus in the Major.


SOA offers a larger view of the curriculum.


The rationale for curricular design and course sequencing becomes clearer, enhancing advising and student success in courses.




SOA acquaints students with the specific goals of their majors.



When students know why they are studying specific topics and practicing certain skills, they learn more readily.  



SOA offers students a feedback on their learning, marking successes and challenges.



Feedback enhances student learning.



Sources:  Barbara Walvood, presentation at the Higher Learning Commission 2005 Meeting, April 2, 2005, Chicago, IL; http://www.umass.edu/oapa/oapa/publications/online_handbooks/program_based.pdf,



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