Assessment and evaluation studies may take place at the subject, department, or Institutional level, and range in size and scope from a pilot study to a complex project that addresses a number of different topics, involves three or more of students, and includes a variety of methodologies. Typically, assessment efforts are divided into two types, formative or summative. Below, each is described briefly along with a third less frequently seen type called process assessment. Included, as well, is a grid that classifies different assessment methodologies.
Formative assessment implies that the results will be used in the formation and revision process of an educational effort. Formative assessments are used in the improvement of educational programs. This type of assessment is the most common form of assessment in higher education, and it constitutes a large proportion of ASREA’s assessment work. Since educators are continuously looking for ways to strengthen their educational efforts, this type of constructive feedback is valuable.
Summative assessment is used for the purpose of documenting outcomes and judging value. It is used for providing feedback to instructors about the quality of a subject or program, reporting to stakeholders and granting agencies, producing reports for accreditation, and marketing the attributes of a subject or program. Most studies of this type are rarely exclusively summative in practice, and they usually contain some aspects of formative assessment.
Process assessment begins with the identification of project milestones to be reached, activities to be undertaken, products to be delivered, and/or projected costs likely to be incurred in the course of attaining a project’s final goals. The process assessment determines whether the project has been on schedule, deliverables produced, and cost estimates met. The degree of difference from the expected process is used to evaluate success.
How colleges and universities can measure and report on the knowledge and abilities their students have acquired during their college years is an issue of growing interest. The Methods of Measuring Learning Outcomes Grid provides a way to categorize the range of methodologies that can be used to assess the value added by a college education.
There are a sequence of activities that should be followed in order to implement an assessment. Below you will find a description of each step in the process and useful guidelines for approaching them.
- Identify Intended Learning Outcomes
- Identify Research Questions
- Develop Research Design
- Select Sampling Frame
- Select Appropriate Data Collection Methods
- Construct Measurement Instruments
- Select Appropriate Data Analysis Techniques
- Consider Communication and Dissemination of Findings