“Assessing for learning is a systematic and systemic process of inquiry into what and how well students learn over the progression of their studies and is driven by intellectual curiosity about the efficacy of collective educational practices.” Peggy Maki
Emerging from the mission of the College and the related missions of its programs, assessment is viewed as an ongoing cycle of activities:
The primary purposes of assessment are to guide student learning, and to inform and improve teaching and curriculum. Both formal and informal assessment can reveal student learning in relation to teacher effectiveness, student work, classroom assignments, etc. But direct assessment methods are best, where assessment is not based on anecdotal evidence, but on clear, visible, and convincing evidence rigorously attained (see direct and indirect methods). Assessment results may reveal particular strengths or weaknesses within a given curriculum. Care should be taken in analyzing and interpreting findings, so as to distinguish between causal and correlative factors.
There are many factors in student performance in addition to quality of teaching and curriculum, including motivation, prior knowledge, and need for learning support. That said, it is safe to make a link between your curriculum and students leaving your program with strong knowledge and skills. And in those cases where students as a whole don’t meet your program’s standards, it is helpful to examine your curriculum, teaching and learning practices, and the need for additional or modified student preparation. Examination of your curriculum should be done keeping in mind the Student Learning Outcomes. (See also Developing Student Learning Outcomes.)