"Resources for measuring student learning"

The Role of Assessment in Course Design

A photo of a multiple choice scantron with a pencil on top.

The primary purpose of assessment is to improve student learning. Assessment of student learning is dependent on student learning outcome statements. Poorly written outcomes make it difficult to produce high-quality test items that measure the outcomes. Low-quality test items lower the validity of decisions about student achievement and course effectiveness. This article considers the role of assessment in a four-step outcomes-based course design model.

Linking Outcomes Statements with Test Items

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The primary purpose of assessment is to evaluate and improve student learning. Clear communication is a key ingredient for making a connection between what students are expected to know and be able to do (outcomes), assessing how well they are learning and have learned (formative and summative assessment), and reporting assessment results that are meaningful and useful to all stakeholders. This article suggests a three-level model to accomplish these connections.

Writing Constructed Response Items and Rubrics

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Constructed response test items require the student to construct an answer rather than select the answer from a list of choices (as in multiple-choice tests). The student’s response can be a written response, a performance, or a product. This article talks about how to create written response items and provides an introduction on how to evaluate the written response with a scoring guide called a rubric.

Writing Multiple Choice Test Items

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When developing a test form, the test builder should choose the type of test item that best matches the intent of the outcome statements being measured and meets the needs of the course instructor. The two main types of test items are selected response (SR) and constructed response (CR). SR includes true-false, matching, and multiple-choice items of various types. This article discusses the most used type of SR item, a multiple-choice (MC) item consisting of a question and three or more answer choices.

Developing Learning Outcome Statements Using a Three-Level Model

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In Student Learning Outcomes Overview, we learned that student learning outcomes (SLOs) need to be specific enough to be measurable in a reasonable and effect way with some form of assessment.  This article recommends a three-level model to clearly communicate to the student and to other stakeholders, such as the chair, dean, or institution exactly what students at the end of a particular course are expected to know and be able to do, and what habits of mind they are expected to have developed.

Student Learning Outcomes: An Overview

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The term “outcome” is used extensively in the world of business, industry, and medicine. Business and industry set outcome expectations and work to achieve them. The medical field has used an outcomes based model for many years for teaching, testing, and medical practice. The outcomes and outcome-based assessment concept has slowly found its place in education, with institutions, accreditation agencies, and governing agencies demanding clear learning outcome statements and valid measurement of the outcomes. This article presents an overview of student learning outcomes (SLOs).

Defining Critical Thinking: A Primer

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Thinking critically has become a highly desired and often required learning outcome by educational institutions. Critical thinking involves reasoning, making judgments, and problem solving. We do these all the time, but only sometimes in a critical way. This article presents some helpful information for getting started with a critical thinking agenda.