Frequently Asked Questions

What is learning assessment?

The ultimate goal of assessment is to understand and improve student learning. The specialized literature in the field has different definitions of this concept. According to Walvoord (2010), learning assessment is “the systematic collection of information about student learning, using the time, knowledge, expertise, and resources available, in order to inform decisions about how to improve learning.” Linda Suskie (2009) defined assessment as an “ongoing process of establishing clear, measurable, expected outcomes of student learning, ensuring that students have sufficient opportunities to achieve those outcomes, systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well student learning matches the expectations and using the resulting information to understand and improve student learning.”

Will all assessment activities have to be graded?

Professors decide if the assessment activity used in their class will be graded. Some assessment techniques that don’t necessarily have to be evaluated with a grade are: diagnostic tests, pre-tests, reflections, and self-evaluations, among others.

Why aren’t course grades adequate indicators for program assessment?

Course grades have insufficient information for learning assessment because:

  • Course grades represent a summary result of the evaluation of different learning objectives and learning outcomes.
  • Course grades can include evaluation criteria such as class attendance and participation, which don’t represent learning.
  • Grades do not indicate what exactly students have or have not learned.
  • Different professors may use different evaluation strategies and consider different criteria for the same course.

What are the differences between learning assessment and evaluation?

Through the assessment process, the institution, academic programs, and professors gather evidence of student learning. In the evaluation process, the information compiled through assessment is analyzed to make judgments about the students’ performance.

What are the steps in learning assessment?

Learning assessment can be organized in different ways, depending on the operational and academic approach. However, the procedure is essentially the same and can be represented as a cycle. The learning assessment design should, at the very least, include the following phases: establishment of learning objectives, selection of measures, data collection process, organization and analysis of information, and use of information.

What are the benefits of assessment?

Some of the benefits associated with the learning assessment process are:

  • Identifying the academic needs of students
  • Evaluating and improving the quality of academic services
  • Creating a culture of self-analysis and commitment to the institutional mission
  • Providing data for planning and decision making
  • Helping to demonstrate the institutional achievements to the public
  • Showing achievements to accrediting agencies and professional organizations
  • Identifying and responding to the needs of the social environment
  • Allowing informed decision making

Do I need permission from my students to submit their work for assessment?

Students do not have to consent to their work being used in the institutional learning assessment process. Permission is only needed when using student data or work for professional presentations and publications, in which case the Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval would be required. For more information, please visit the Cipshi website.

What is the faculty role in the assessment process?

  • Be actively involved in the processes of planning and implementing learning assessment.
  • Participate in the creation of objectives and in the design of the assessment instruments.
  • Communicate with the students about the criteria that will be used as part of the evaluation of the learning accomplished in the course.
  • Contribute by gathering information about the learning acquired in their courses and provide said information to the Program Coordinators.
  • Know the results of the assessment in their courses and inform the students of these results.
  • Propose transforming actions and implement them in their courses. 

Student Learning Assessment

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Updated by Arlene Fontánez on January 20, 2016