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Glossary of Terms

Assessment: “Assessment is the systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development.” (Palomba & Banta, 1999)

Benchmark: Point of reference for measurement; a standard of achievement against which to evaluate or judge performance. (adapted from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Assessment Glossary)

Capstone Course/Experience: An upper-division class designed to help students demonstrate comprehensive learning in the major through some type of product or experience. In addition to emphasizing work related to the major, capstone experiences can require students to demonstrate how well they have mastered important learning objectives from the institution's general studies programs. (Palomba & Banta, 1999)

Closing the Loop: Using assessment results for improvement and/or evolution.

Course-level Assessment: Methods of assessing student learning within the classroom environment, using course goals, outcomes and content to gauge the extent of learning that is taking place.

Curriculum Mapping: An analytical approach that allows faculty to identify important components of program curricula, place them in relation to each other in a visual format, and then capture an overarching curricular structure to support cognitive scaffolding for further analysis. A curriculum map is a visual tool that can be used to introduce new students and faculty to the program, curriculum discussion, accreditation requirements, and provides an approach to systematically study the curriculum. Curriculum mapping is especially helpful in implementing an assessment plan. (Cuevas, Matwev & Feit, 2009)

Direct Assessment: Collecting data/evidence on students' actual behaviors or products. Direct data-collection methods provide evidence in the form of student products or performances. Such evidence demonstrates the actual learning that has occurred relating to a specific content or skill. (Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 2007) e.g. exams, course work, essays, oral performance.

External Reviewer: An outside expert — typically, an academic in the discipline — that conducts a comprehensive, independent evaluation of a program. 

Formative Assessment: Ongoing assessment that takes place during the learning process. It is intended to improve an individual student's performance, program performance, or overall institutional effectiveness. Formative assessment is used internally, primarily by those responsible for teaching a course or developing and running a program. (Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 2007)

Indirect Assessment: Collecting evidence/data through reported perceptions about student mastery of learning outcomes. Indirect methods reveal characteristics associated with learning, but they only imply that learning has occurred. (Middle States Commission on Higher Education) e.g. surveys, interviews, focus groups.

Learning Outcomes: Statements that identify the knowledge, skills, or attitudes that students will be able to demonstrate, represent, or produce as a result of a given educational experience. There are three levels of learning outcomes: course, program, and institution.

Periodic Review Report: The Periodic Review Report (PRR), due five years after the decennial self-study and reaffirmation of accreditation, is a retrospective, current, and prospective analysis of the institution. As an essential phase of the accreditation cycle, the PRR should demonstrate that the institution meets the standards by which the Commission reaffirms or denies accredited status.

Rubrics: Scoring tools that explicitly represent the performance expectations for an assignment or piece of work. A rubric divides the assigned work into component parts and provides clear descriptions of the characteristics of the work associated with each component, at varying levels of mastery. Rubrics can be used for a wide array of assignments: papers, oral presentations, artistic performances, group projects, etc. Rubrics can be used as scoring or grading guides, to provide formative feedback to support and guide ongoing learning efforts, or both.

Summative Assessment: The gathering of information at the conclusion of a course, program, or undergraduate career to improve learning or to meet accountability demands. When used for improvement, impacts the next cohort of students taking the course or program. Examples: examining student final exams in a course to see if certain specific areas of the curriculum were understood less well than others; analyzing senior projects for the ability to integrate across disciplines.

Last Updated 7/1/20

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