We look at several aspects of valid measurement of student learning outcomes that have been attended to and a few of those that remain to be addressed, keeping in mind that as the number of schools and programs doing rigorous scientific inquiry grows, so does the support network for those who are “not quite there yet”.
We have made significant inroads into helping faculty and administrators gain an understanding of some aspects of standards-based assessment. Four areas that have seen paradigm shifts toward valid scientific measurement are: inter-rater reliability, the use of assessor pools, irrelevant associations, and significance testing for learning growth.
We’ve come a long way in our journey toward the rigorous scientific measurement of student learning outcomes. Although we still have some way to go, when we started, we weren’t even sure we would get this far.
The Assessment Technology of the Future Exists Now, But Will Higher Education Leaders Champion It?
The future of higher education paired with technological advancements is a hot topic and has been theorized for many years, even highlighted in pop culture. You may be old enough to remember the 1986 movie, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. In the film, there is a scene where an adult Spock is taking his final exam- a multimedia test from a Vulcan “teaching machine.”
Assessment technology can be leveraged to improve student learning by customizing highly individualized programs. Each student is led by the assessment technology and explores customized, adaptive learning journeys crafted to address both the curriculum outcomes and the way each student learns best. This is real, not science fiction.
We could go on forever about the reasons students do not return to school, but let’s focus on what proactive institutions can do to improve their retention rate. Simply, engage students in all aspects of campus life. Recognize their accomplishments. Provide support for them academically. And most importantly, prepare them for the workforce.
Regardless of grade level or subject area, virtually every teacher is familiar with the concept of curriculum mapping. Some are actively engaged in the process. This is also true, albeit to a lesser extent, in higher education. Due to the structure of higher education programs, faculty sometimes find themselves focused on their own courses with a bit less awareness of the program at large.
Find out more about curriculum mapping and assessment mapping and why they are so important.
Having joined the education vernacular in the 1960s, CBE (competency-based education), is experiencing a resurgence in interest and popularity. Attention on accountability in higher education, student learning outcomes and a related focus on outcomes-based assessment has brought new energy into the CBE movement. Other factors, including the rise of for-profit universities, the increasing numbers of non-traditional students, the desire to move students to degree completion more quickly and even the effort to provide a more transparent and personalized learning experience all contribute to this growing movement.
So, when it comes to competency-based education, what are the challenges and opportunities for higher education institutions to assess and achieve optimal student learning?