At VCU, we assess the learning we expect students to achieve for three reasons:
For more context on VCU's approach to assessment, see Natasha Jankowski’s commentary, "Moving Toward a Philosophy of Assessment". For context on VCU’s approach to assessment for student learning, read Natasha’s article, "The Principles of our Practice" (a free download from the AALHE website).
Assessing expected student learning outcomes requires an intentional process. It begins with faculty members identifying their common expectations for student learning, then delivering a curriculum designed for students to achieve the expected outcomes, collecting evidence of student learning, analyzing and interpreting the evidence, and using these findings to inform actions to improve student learning outcomes.
See the American Association for Higher Education and Accreditation’s, "9 Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning".
Stakeholders look for colleges and universities to make public the expectations for students’ learning, to illustrate that curricular and extra-curricular programs are designed toward the learning outcomes, and to provide accounts of the learning outcomes at program and institutional levels.
Transparency and accountability regarding learning outcomes are mandated by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV). SACSCOC identifies using assessment to improve student learning outcomes as a hallmark of effective institutions, and as the SCHEV assessment policy observes, “Quality assessment helps institutions communicate their value. By appropriately sharing information about assessment findings and plans for improvement, institutions contribute to building public trust in higher education.”
Find out more about what SACSCOC and SCHEV say about accountability, transparency, and assessing to improve student learning.
Read about accountability as a form of storytelling in Lee Shulman's Change Magazine article, “Counting and Recounting: Assessment and the Quest for Accountability.”
Contact Dr. Veronica Shuford, director of program development and innovation, at firstname.lastname@example.org.