Both direct and indirect methods focus on student learning, and both can draw on qualitative and/or quantitative methodology.

  • Direct methods examine actual student performance to determine what students learned and the extent to which students have met the learning goals you established.

Examples: written assignments, performances, presentations, observations of the quality of field work (e.g. clinical, field experience, internships), written or oral reflection on the link between theory and practice, research and capstone projects, exams, standardized tests, licensure exams, and even student publications.

  • Indirect methods examine the perspectives of various stakeholders on teaching and learning in order to glean insights on the learning process (the how and why).

Examples: student self-appraisals of learning, satisfaction surveys, peer review by faculty, focus groups (e.g. with students, alumni, community partners, employers of graduates).

 The primary purposes of assessment are to guide student learning, and to inform and improve teaching and curriculum. Using direct methods of assessment can reveal student learning in relation to teacher effectiveness, student work, classroom assignments, etc. Assessment results may reveal particular strengths or weaknesses within a given curriculum and serves as a basis for reflection that may result in future changes.