What is Assessment?

Faculty sometimes say that they are already doing assessment by giving students tests. Kiểm tra data can certainly be useful in assessment. However, assessment is more than tests – it relates to lớn what the students know and can vì at the end of a course or upon graduation. Specifically whether or not students attain a phối of learning outcomes (i.e., what faculty want students khổng lồ know or be able to do as a result of taking a class or competing a curriculum). Learning outcomes can be formulated for application at several levels. At the classroom màn chơi a learning outcome might focus on a very specific skill (e.g., students will have the ability khổng lồ identify common minerals), at the department/program or institute cấp độ they are typically broader (e.g., students will recognize the needfor lifelong learning). An important characteristic of a good learning outcome is that it is something that can be easily measured.

Assessment should take place at multiple levels within an institution, including:

Classroom assessment in which instructors determine whether students are achieving the learning outcomes for the course. Department assessment in which faculty determine whether their department curriculum is teaching students the material & skills necessary to lớn meet the department learning outcomes. Departments that contribute lớn the general education core curriculum also bởi vì a separate assessment of those classes to lớn see if they are fulfilling the needs of students across the curriculum. Co-curricular assessment, in which non-academic offices/programs (e.g., student services, residential life, physical recreation) assess their progress in helping students to lớn achieve learning outcomes. Institute assessment, in which we attempt to lớn determine whether students are meeting the learning outcomes that apply to the entire campus.

Why is it Valuable?

There are several reasons that assessment is a valuable endeavor.

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Classroom assessment provides instructors with feedback on the actual results of instruction. Tests can be a valuable part of classroom assessment by relating specific thử nghiệm questions to class learning outcomes. However, effective classroom assessment should also involve periodic assessments, which can include simple, non-graded activities such as asking students to quickly write down on a piece of paper the portion of a lecture that they found most difficult to lớn follow. If many students indicate they are having difficulty with a particular concept related lớn a learning outcome, you can spend more time on it in the next lecture, rather than waiting for the final exam lớn find out that they had trouble with it. Department assessment helps faculty focus on the skills & knowledge they want their graduates lớn have, & to determine how well they are doing at achieving these goals. The process of formulating department-level learning outcomes, and determining which classes contribute to those outcomes is very useful in its own right. Is some class material not contributing khổng lồ achieving the learning outcomes? Perhaps the material is being taught because such classes traditionally cover this material, but if a concrete reason for including the material does not readily come to lớn mind, more useful nội dung could probably be substituted for it. In essence, just planning for department-level assessment is valuable in that it encourages faculty to lớn focus on more than their specific courses, but rather khổng lồ think in terms of the broad goals they have for their students upon graduation. Co-curricular assessment helps non-academic offices khổng lồ focus on how their activities impact student learning on campus. Students engage in a wide variety of activities related lớn these programs that enhance & reinforce formal academic instruction. For example, our Office of Student Affairs has hosted a variety of activities that help students khổng lồ appreciate diverse cultures và ethic diversity. Co-curricular activities have also been demonstrated to lớn increase student engagement và have a major impact on student mental và physical health, which obviously help with their performance on a wide variety of outcomes. At the institute cấp độ assessment helps a school lớn determine how it is doing overall in preparing students. Khổng lồ assess progress on some of institute-wide learning outcomes schools often rely on program màn chơi assessment. However, there are some areas that require campus-wide data to evaluate. For example, the Office of Academic Affairs has campus-wide data on academic honesty violations, which is useful in assessing our campus-wide learning outcome that students will “learn responsible values và ethics for their profession a lives.”

Assessment Workflow

Regardless of assessment level, the workflow is always the same:

1. Define learning outcomes – the knowledge/skills you want the students lớn have.

2. Formulate an assessment methodology – how you will measure student performance on an outcome.

3. Evaluate how students are doing on the outcomes.

4. Determine what actions, if any, should be taken to lớn improve student performance. Item-4 is critical because without it the assessment exercise is ultimately worthless.

Assessment Reports

To view assessment reports, forms, and templates, visit the reports page, or request copies of the reports from Michael Jackson.

Further Reading

(Note: the Office of Academic Affairswould be happy khổng lồ purchase these or other books onassessment for NMT staff & faculty.)

Angelo, T.A., và Cross, K.P, 1993, Classroom assessment techniques (2nd ed.), Josset-Bass, 427 pp., ISBN 1-55542-500-3.

Driscoll, A. & Wood, S., 2007, Outcomes-based assessment for learner-centered education, Stylus, 275 pp., ISBN 1-57922-195-9.

Congratulations on starting your college career! In my time in higher education, I’ve noticed a number of similar problems that first-time-in-college students tend to have when they arrive. I recommend that all college students familiarize themselves with these tips. These are based on my experiences with students, as well as recommendations from paststudents & fellow teachers.


Tip 1. College is a lot of work và can be expensive; plan accordingly. Plan your course load carefully. It’s not lượt thích high school; seven classes in a semester will likely overwhelm you. While costs at community collegeare much lower than most other colleges, textbooks are still a significant cost that you should budget for when you’re planning your course load. It’s okay lớn politely ask your teacher by email or in class if the textbook is required. If it is, you can also ask if it’s acceptable khổng lồ purchase an older edition of the text. Lưu ý that you might place yourself at a disadvantage by not getting the textbook or by buying an older edition, but the library will often have a copy on reserve.

Tip 2. Understand the rules around dropping courses.Every state and college/university may have different rules on this one. In Texas, for instance, over the course of your entire Texas state public education, you can only ever drop six classes (though not all drops count toward your six). So get the facts! Are there penalties for dropping? Will dropping below a certain number affect your financial aid? How will failing and retaking a class affect your GPA? Does the new grade replace the old one in your GPA calculation or vị they both factor in? Will falling below a certain GPA risk your academic standing? It’s also good khổng lồ know the deadline for dropping courses and what percentage of your money will be reimbursed depending on your drop date.

Tip 3. There’s a lot to keep track of. Use a calendar, planner, etc. To help you manage the large number of deadlines & to avoid having large assignments, projects, và exams from sneaking up on you. Watch the academic calendars online too, which will tell you when your finals are, when the deadline is for payment or dropping courses, etc. Teachers may also put up course-specific calendars on the syllabus and/or in your online learning management system (platforms lượt thích Blackboard, D2L, etc.).

Tip 4. Pay attention khổng lồ what counts toward the core or your degree. You might suspect that Music Fundamentals, Popular Songwriting, Painting, or Drawing would count toward your Creative Arts vi xử lý core requirements. They don’t at our college. Only a very small number of courses count toward these requirements due to lớn state mandates. You should still kiểm tra out these classes as potential electives though!

Tip 5. You don’t have khổng lồ finish in two or four years. Some students will manage to get through a community college education in two years and a university education in four, but many will not. In fact, the majority of community college students take significantly longer than two years to complete their degrees, often due to competing responsibilities, lượt thích work, school, and family. Keep at it!

Tip 6. Don’t take too many credits.While these rules periodically change và vary by state, you may be limited lớn the number of credits you can take. In Texas, the current guidelines state that the state will not fund students who exceed the number of credit hours required for their four-year degrees by more than 30 hours (this usually amounts to a total of 150 hours). To hóa trang for this lost income, most four-years will charge you non-resident rates once you exceed this maximum. There are important exceptions to what counts toward these hours; for instance, workforce courses, remedial courses, & courses taken out of state vị not count toward this limit. (Details for those in Texas: Read Sections 54.014 here and61.0595 here.)


Tip 1. Figure out how to lớn learn from your different teachers. In an ideal world, each teacher’s approach would be customized to lớn your needs, but the reality is that there are many students in the same class with different backgrounds, skill sets, and learning styles. If we can’t always customize our teaching styles for you, try to lớn customize your learning khổng lồ get the most out of the class. That doesn’t mean teachers won’t help you there; it just may need khổng lồ be out of class (office hours, tutorials, etc.). Also, you might get some teachers who are just not stellar or are poor matches for you. But khổng lồ quote Neil de
Grasse Tyson’s
January 10, 2015 tweet: “Students who earn straight ‘A’s in school bởi vì so not because of good Teachers but in spite of bad Teachers.” (PS- You don’t need to lớn earn all As!)

Tip 2. Expect lớn manage your own learning. Some teachers will give extensive handouts or online resources, while others will not. Do not expect your teachers khổng lồ post notes for you; take your own notes in class, reviews them at home, và bring questions to lớn your teacher. Read up on material before class too, so that you already have some grasp of it before class. Also, follow your degree plan carefully. Use the advisors lớn guide you on general questions, but it’s often better khổng lồ bring questions about your major lớn the department chair or another full time faculty thành viên in that department.

Tip 3. Be prepared for different expectations from your teachers.

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Oftentimes, learning in high school can focus on chạy thử preparation và memorization. In college, teachers may be more interested in how you think and how you support your arguments. You may feel frustrated by not being able lớn find the “right answer” lớn your teachers’ questions, but you are learning about how to lớn think, which is ultimately more valuable than being taught what khổng lồ think. Teachers may also engage in different types of teaching styles, such as a “flipped classroom,” where you learn most of the nội dung outside of the class (from videos, articles, etc.) and then get hands-on experience with the material in class. Embrace these opportunities khổng lồ try learning in a new way.

Tip 4. Engage with Your Classes. Engage fully while in class! You’ll have more fun, learn more, & may just discover a passion for a new subject that could last a lifetime. Try lớn focus on learning over grades; we know that can be challenging, but it will help ease the pressure and you’ll probably kết thúc up with better grades too. Five years from now, you won’t remember the grades you got in your classes, but what you learned may still make a difference in how you think and live your life.

Tip 4. Show good cell phone etiquette. Don’t call, text, or go on your phone during class. At best, you may miss things as you split your attention. At worst, you may frustrate your teacher, violate syllabus policies, or risk accusations of cheating during in-class assignments & exams.

Tip 5. Size good working relationships with your teachers and classmates. Show courtesy toward and respect for your instructors và your peers. These are relationships that can last a long time. You’ll turn to your instructors for letters of recommendation & job references và will likely see your peers again in the professional world.


Tip 1. Kiểm tra your collegeemail or get it forwarded. You are expected to check your official college e-mail (including emails through the online learning management software, like Blackboard and D2L). Often, this is the only way teachers have to tương tác you. I strongly suggest that you check all college e-mail accountsseveral times a week, but if you’re not going to, at least have your messages from both forwarded to lớn an thư điện tử address you do check regularly. I know students who have missed out on scholarships, nominations for the Honors College, & more because they don’t kiểm tra their school emails.

Tip 2. Participate in extracurricular activities. Use college to lớn become a more well-rounded person. Explore a new hobby or passion, join a student organization, get involved with a performance on campus, attend voluntary seminars or lectures, volunteer your time, etc. All of these things will help you get the most out of college và develop a community. They also look great on a résumé. Try not to over-commit though; your first academic priority should be your classes.


Tip 1. Type, don’t text. Anything you submit to lớn your instructor should have correct grammar, punctuation, capitalization, & spelling. This includes one-line responses & emails lớn your professor. This not only helps create a professional relationship with your instructors, it is also excellent practice for the professional world.

Tip 2. Take responsibility for your choices. Sometimes you can’t keep up with the work & get a poor grade. Sometimes you didn’t read the syllabus & didn’t know there was a quiz or a grading policy that doesn’t work in your favor. If you own up lớn a mistake early (BEFORE an assignment is due), your teacher MIGHT be willing lớn grant you an extension or work with you in some way, but never expect special treatment. In most cases, you cannot redo assignments or retake exams. Study hard and do your best every time. Teachers will expect you to lớn take responsibility for your actions & your work.

Tip 3. Professional behavior extends outside the classroom. Don’t expect that your teachers’ and classmates’ impressions of you are restricted khổng lồ how you behave in the classroom. Behave professionally both in and out of the classroom by always showing the instructors & staff, as well as your classmates kindness, professionalism, and respect.

Tip 4. Call your teachers “Professor…” unless they say otherwise. If you’re unsure what to hotline your professors, stick with “Professor ” or ask them, “What would you lượt thích me to call you?” Some may permit you to gọi them by their first names, some may favor Mr. Or Mrs./Ms./Miss, & some faculty members who hold doctoral degrees may prefer “Dr. .”

Tip 5. Kiểm tra your entitlement.The current generation has a bad rap for being “entitled,” so many professors are quick lớn respond badly lớn it. Don’t expect that your teacher will put up notes for you or make special concessions for you even if you had a good reason for missing class. I also recommend that you resist the entitled notion that you have a right not lớn be offended. School is not about making you comfortable and confirming your current beliefs about the world. Many teachers feel that part of a good education is brushing up against ideas that make you uncomfortable và that challenge you. To lớn that end, I recommend that you not ask for trigger warnings or restrictions of content or language unless you have anexcellent reason. An example of where this might be reasonable is if you’re a vet with
PTSD that’s triggered by war sounds. In such a circumstance, asking if a clip of battle can be viewed out of class, muted, and with closed captions is a reasonable request.It’s also fine to lớn requestreasonable accommodations for adocumented disability. Colleges have offices of disability that can assist with the current documentation and the negotiation of reasonable accommodations toallow you khổng lồ learn.


What other tips vày you think would be helpful for students khổng lồ know? Comment on this post to nội dung your best tips for students who are new lớn college!

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