Glossary of Terms

Selected Assessment Terms and Definitions


Accountability: Reporting to the public on educational process to show trends within and relationships among school data (e.g., institutions are held accountable for the use of public funds, institutions must demonstrate that they are efficient and effective in serving the needs of the state). Summative data is used for making decisions about resources, people, and institutions. AAHE Assessment: Frequently Asked Questions, http://www.aahe.org/assessment/assess_faq.htm#define

Analytical Scoring: Evaluating student work across multiple dimensions of performance rather than from an overall impression (holistic scoring). In analytic scoring, individual scores for each dimension are scored and reported. Glossary of Useful Terms, SABES Home Page


Assessment: Assessment is the systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development. T. Marchese, 1987

Assessment Steps:

  • Develop learning objectives.
  • Check for alignment between the curriculum and the objectives.
  • Develop an assessment plan (must use direct measures).
  • Collect assessment data.
  • Use results to improve the program.
  • Routinely examine the assessment process and correct, as needed
    Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education by Mary J. Allen
  • Benchmark: A detailed description of a specific level of student performance expected of students. A defined measurement or standard serves as a point of reference by which process performance is measured.

    Closing the Loop: Assessment results are acted upon. Assessment data are turned back into program improvement. This is part of the assessment process. http://www.und.nodak.edu/dept/datacol/assessment/glossary

    Curriculum Alignment: Curriculum and learning objectives are aligned or matched to ensure that students are provided appropriate learning opportunities in order to achieve the identified learning objectives or outcomes. Definition from Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education by Mary J. Allen

    Direct Assessment: Assessments that involve examination of student work or performance, such as embedded test questions, written papers, oral presentations, student projects, competence interviews, performances, or portfolios. Assessment results will be even more convincing if different assessment strategies triangulate to support the same conclusion. Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education by Mary J. Allen

    Efficacy of Assessment: Assessment results are being used to make effective programmatic improvements. The department/program is maturing through continual improvement based on evidence. Faculty care about teaching and know their role in assessment. http://www.und.nodak.edu/dept/datacol/assessment/glossary

    Embedded Assessment: A means of gathering information about student learning that is built into and a natural part of the teaching learning process. Often used for assessment purposes in classroom assignments that are evaluated to assign students a grade. Can assess individual student performance or aggregate the information to provide information about the course or program; can be formative or summative, quantitative or qualitative. Example: as part of a course, expecting each senior to complete a research paper that is graded for content and style, but is also assessed for advanced ability to locate and evaluate Web-based information (as part of a college-wide outcome to demonstrate information literacy). Assessment Terms Glossary, Northern Illinois University, http://www.niu.edu/assessment/_resourc/gloss.shtml.

    Holistic Scoring: Evaluating student work in which the score is based on an overall impression of student performance rather than multiple dimensions of performance (analytic scoring). Glossary of Useful Terms, SABES Home Page

    Indirect Assessment: Assessments that supplement and enrich what faculty learn from direct assessment studies, such as alumni surveys, employer surveys, satisfaction surveys and interviews. Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education by Mary J. Allen

    Performance Criteria: The standards by which student performance is evaluated. Performance criteria help assessors maintain objectivity and provide students with important information about expectations.

    Portfolios: Collections of multiple student work samples usually compiled over time and rated using rubrics. The design of a portfolio is dependent upon how the scoring results are going to be used. Assessment Terms Glossary, Northern Illinois University, http://www.niu.edu/assessment/_resourc/gloss.shtml.

    Program Assessment: an ongoing process designed to monitor and improve student learning. Faculty develop explicit statements of what students should learn, verify that the program is designed to foster this learning, collect empirical data that indicate student attainment, and use these data to improve student learning. Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education by Mary J. Allen

    Rubric: A set of scoring criteria used to determine the value of a student's performance on assigned tasks. The criteria are written so students are able to learn what must be done to improve their performance in the future. Music Assessment Glossary by Edward P. Asmus, Ph.D., http://www.music.miami.edu/assessment/glossary.html

    Scaffolding: An instructional technique whereby the teacher models the desired learning strategy or task, then gradually shifts responsibility to the students. Scaffolding by North West Regional Lab, http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/students/learning/lr1scaf.htm

    Self-Assessment: Analyzing and making decisions about one's own performance or abilities. Music Assessment Glossary by Edward P. Asmus, Ph.D., http://www.music.miami.edu/assessment/glossary.html

    Student Learning Outcomes (AKA student learning objectives): Statements of what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time they complete the major or degree. They may be stated in terms of expected knowledge, skills or attitudes. These outcomes must be consistent with the mission of the department, college, and university. Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education by Mary J. Allen

    Triangulation: Multiple lines of evidence pointing to the same conclusion. It refers to the collection and comparison of data or information from three difference sources or perspectives. Glossary of Useful Terms, SABES Home Page

    Value Added: The increase in learning that occurs during a course, program, or undergraduate education. Requires a baseline measurement for comparison.


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