Assessment can only be effective if we are clear about what we want to assess. The assessment of student learning begins then with carefully stating what outcomes we expect from our classes or programs. Below are some outcomes that could effectively lead to assessment.
Of course, part of effective assessment is knowing what level of competency we expect from students. It is unlikely and unrealistic to expect 100% of the students to have 100% competency. Do we expect 90% of the students to be able to apply key concepts of macro-economics to successfully analyze economic cases with 75% correct responses? Do we expect 80% of the students in a business writing course to achieve Very Strong on six out of eight criteria on their Analytic Long Report. Many programs such as those in the Health Sciences know fairly accurately what would be an excellent result by their students on certification exams which in turn provide very good feed back on the relative success of the programs. We can only be effective at assessment if we know what we really expect our students to learn and with what levels of success.
Often Less is More
We cannot assess everything without being overwhelmed. To effectively assess student learning, we need to identify what it is most important for us to learn about our students and target that outcome for research.