Without assessments of learning, one cannot truly know whether students are meeting the learning goals and expectations for your course. Often instructors are disappointed when they grade exams or final products [e.g. papers, projects, or presentations] to discover substantial gaps between what was taught and what students actually learned. Unfortunately, finding these gaps at the end of learning means it is too late to remedy the problem.
Assessing learning is not the same as grading. With grading, the instructor simply scores student work. With assessment, the instructor may assign a grade, but the focus is on exploring how to improve student learning.
For example, an instructor assessing learning might ask:
- How many students met this learning outcome?
- Should I provide an additional explanation or opportunity?
- How can I modify the presentation of the material?
Effective assessment of learning enables you to monitor student learning throughout the course and gives you the ability to make necessary adjustments to improve learning.
Benefits of an assessment
- Improves students’ learning.
- Identifies instructional, course, or assignment challenges.
- Improves instruction by identifying what instructional adjustments might be needed. Ensures grading is reflective of students’ learning towards course outcomes.
- Makes grading more systematic and objective.