As the relatively new College Assistant to the Office of Assessment, I was a bit apprehensive to contribute to this blog. As someone who is neither faculty nor staff and is new to the world of assessment, I wasn’t sure what I could add to the conversation. But as I have been exploring assessment, I have come to realize the importance of the student perspective. After all, the purpose of good assessment is to help students.
In thinking about my own experiences with assessment, here are four assessment practices I value:
- What should I expect from this course?
In the past, most of my syllabi have communicated what students should expect from the teacher and the course. Far fewer have they communicated what should be expected of the students. At the onset of the semester what I really want to know is: what I should be able to know and do by the end of this course?
- A variety of methods
Students learn and demonstrate learning in many different ways. I am not a great test-taker, but I like presenting information to my classmates. Therefore, I think it is important for students to have the ability to demonstrate their understanding in different ways. This means relying on a variety of assessments, including things multiple choice tests, written assignments, presentations and E-Portfolios.
- Meaningful feedback
I find that the most meaningful feedback is both timely and specific. Feedback is most effective if it is received when the information is still fresh. If I receive a graded test three weeks after I took it, chances are I have already moved on to the next topic. Feedback is also more meaningful when students know not only what they got wrong, but why they were wrong. Helping a student understand his or her learning challenge is more beneficial than just correcting the answer itself.
- Rubrics, rubrics, rubrics
Rubrics help make assessment transparent. They are another great way of explicitly stating student expectations. Providing rubrics to students at the time of an assignment can help students understand the criteria for evaluation so they can prepare appropriately.
As a student, I recommend selecting a practice and trying it out. After all, good assessment improves student learning and enhances teaching effectiveness.
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