Vocabulary for Assessment and Evaluation
Accountability – Requirement of both teachers and students to show mastery of a minimum level of skills. Various tests are used to provide evidence of mastery. Accountability is usually required of institutions by funding and governing bodies for resources used and for goods and services produced.
Assessment - The systematic collection, examination, and interpretation of qualitative and quantitative data about student learning and the use of that information to document and improve student learning. (Higher Learning Commission)
Benchmark - An actual measurement of group performance against an established standard at defined points along the path toward the standard. Subsequent measurements of group performance use the benchmarks to measure progress toward achievement. (New Horizons for Learning)
Competency – complex abilities that are essential to lifelong learning and are developed over time.
Competency Testing – a test that assesses a test taker’s level of knowledge or skill in some defined domain.
Formative Assessment – The gathering of information about student learning – during the progression of a course or program and usually repeatedly – to improve the learning of those students. (Leskes, 2002)
Goal – A statement of a quantifiable desired future state or condition (broad and vague).
Impact evaluation – measuring the immediate observable effects of a program that lead to the outcome (sometimes referred to as short-term outcomes).
Measurement – the process used to assign numerals to objects or constructs according to rules so that the numbers have quantitative meaning.
Objective – A short-term, measurable, specific activity having a time limit or timeline for completion. They specify who, will do what, under what condition, by what standard and within what time period.
Outcome – Outcomes are more detailed and specific statements derived from the goals. Outcomes are specifically about what you want the end result of your efforts to be. In other words, what do you expect the student to know and do as a result of your work with them. There are also multiple types of outcomes:
- Learning outcomes – the changes in knowledge, ability, skills, values, etc. that occur as a result of individual learning that takes place in the classroom. Some of those things might be the ability to write effectively (appropriate to discipline), ability to properly diagnose and treat a patient, content knowledge applied to real world settings, demonstrated skills, etc.
- Program outcomes –the benefits (changes in values, status, position, etc.) students receive as a result of the completing the entire program of study (rather than a few courses). Some of those things might be employment, licensure pass rates, opportunities for advancement, improved conditions, lifelong learning issues or employer satisfaction with recently hired students.
- Administrative outcomes – benefits for the department, administrative unit or college as a whole. If you want to improve programs and services, attempt a new solution to an old problem, or help improve conditions for student, faculty and staff. Some examples are: recruiting a new faculty member with expertise in a needed area, improving turn-around time for hiring new employees, increasing student/faculty/staff perceptions of safety on campus by upgrading lighting, etc.
Outcome Indicator - Usually referred to as a key indicator, this is that data set, or set of statistics that best verifies the accomplishment of a specific outcome. An outcome indicator for college readiness might be an SAT score of 1100 or above. It is typically the accomplishment of a specific skill or assessment at a certain level that indicates an outcome is met.
Outcome Target – the benchmark set as a performance indicator for a given outcome. An example would be that 80% of students would score a 75% or above on a reading assessment. The outcome target would be “80% of students.”
Outcomes Assessment - Outcomes assessment is the process of collecting information that will tell an organization whether the services, activities, or experiences it offers are having the desired impact on those who partake in them. In other words, is the organization making a difference in the lives of the individuals it serves?
Portfolio - A portfolio is a systematic and organized collection of a student's work that demonstrates to others the evidence of a student's efforts, achievements, and progress over time. The collection should involve the student in selection of its contents, and should include information about the performance criteria, the rubric or criteria for judging merit, and evidence of student self-reflection or evaluation. It should include representation work.
Program Evaluation – the assessment or processes used to determine if programs are effective, delivered appropriately and meeting their objectives.
Process evaluation – measurements obtained during the implementation phase of program activities to control, assure or improve the quality of program performance or delivery. An example would be: 20 group sessions were delivered, 100 students were recruited, 100% of staff were trained. Process evaluation tells you if the program was delivered like it was intended to be delivered.
Rubric - A rubric describes a specific set of criteria that clearly defines for both student and instructor the range from acceptable to unacceptable performance. Criteria define descriptors of ability at each proficiency level of performance and assign values to each level.
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. (Leskes, 2002)
Tests – tools used in measurement of knowledge, attitude and behavior. Tests and testing are specific to a defined circumstances, a period of time or set of outcomes.