• Assessment of Student Learning Glossary

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    Accommodations and Adaptations
    Modifications in the way assessments are designed or administered so that students with disabilities (SWD) and limited English proficient students can be included in the assessment.  Assessment accommodations or adaptations might include Braille forms for blind students or tests in native languages for students whose primary language is other than English.  CRESST (www.cse.ucla.edu/products/glossary.php)

    The extent to which policy elements in a system work together to guide instruction and, ultimately, student learning Webb, N.L. (1997). Criteria for alignment of expectations and assessments in mathematics and science education (Research Monograph NO. 6). Madison: University of Wisconsin-Madison, National Institute for Science Education.

    Alternative Assessment
    An assessment that requires students to generate a response to a question rather than choose from a set of responses provided to them.  (Exhibitions, investigations, demonstrations, written or oral responses, journals, and portfolios) (CRESST)

    The ongoing process of:
    - Establishing clear, measurable objectives (expected outcomes) of student learning
    - Ensuring that students have sufficient opportunities to achieve outcomes
    - Systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well student learning matches our expectations
    - Using the resulting information to understand and to improve student learning
    (Linda Suskie, Assessing Student Learning, 2004)

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    A detailed description of a specific level of student performance expected of students at a particular period of time or developmental level.  (CRESST)

    Bloom's Taxonomy
    A classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning.  Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain, from the simple recall or recognition of facts, as the lowest level, through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels, to the highest order which is classified as evaluation.

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    Capstone Course
    A course which allows the opportunity for students to demonstrate that they have achieved the goals for learning established by their educational institution and major department.  The course is designed to assess cognitive, affective and psychomotor learning and to do so in a student-centered and student-directed manner which requires the command, analysis and synthesis of knowledge and skills.  The capstone course integrates learning from the courses in the major with the courses from the rest of the academic experience.  (http://users.etown.edu/m/moorerc/capstone.html)

    Capstone Project
    A culminating learning experience which provides an opportunity for the student to integrate and apply competencies acquired through coursework, knowledge, skills and experiential learning and to demonstrate a broad mastery of learning across the curriculum.  http://users.etown.edu/m/moorerc/capstone.html)

    Classroom Assessment
    An approach designed to help teachers find out what students are learning in the classroom and how well they are learning it. (Angelo and Cross)

    Classroom Assessment Techniques
    A collection of tools faculty can use to get feedback on how well they are achieving their goals.  CATs reinforce student learning in three ways: by focusing student attention on the most important elements of the course; by providing additional practice in valuable learning and thinking skills; and by training students to become more self-aware, self-assessing, independent learners. (Angelo and Cross)

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    Employ written and oral communication skills in order to convey clear and organized information to target audiences for specific purposes.

    1. Generate communication that addresses audience and purpose.
    2. Employ syntax, usage, style and tone appropriate to academic disciplines and professional environments.
    3. Present ideas in an organized framework appropriate to the subject.
    4. Develop ideas using concrete reasoning and clear explanation.


    Course Map
    A matrix that connects learning outcomes for a particular course to the activities within the course that allow for the achievement of the outcomes; it is an auditing tool that helps identify potential disconnects between course activities and the learning objectives established for the course. (Angelo and Cross)

    Course Outcomes
    See: Outcomes (Course)

    Criterion-Referenced Assessment
    An assessment where an individual's performance is compared to a specific learning objective or performance standard and not to the performance of other students. (CRESST)

    Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
    Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
    Identify problems, explore and prioritize solutions and revise priorities as a means for purposeful action.

    1. Identify and summarize the problem and/or question in clear and concise terms.
    2. Collect and review information from credible sources.
    3. Consider the influence of context, assumptions and underlying bias of resources.
    4. Synthesize and integrate information in order to support conclusions.
    5. When supported, articulate findings and prioritize solutions appropriately.

    Culture, Society and Citizenship
    Describe and explain behaviors and beliefs of various populations throughout the United States of America and the world.

    1. Discuss the role of diversity and equity in the context of the United States of America and the world.
    2. Review social and cultural conventions within their historical contexts.
    3. Examine the interdependence of people in their respective environments.
    4. Examine artistic and aesthetic values of various cultures.
    5. Explain the nature of a democratic society.
    6. Articulate the values of civic engagement, community involvement and the role of service.

    Curriculum Map
    A matrix that connects goals or objectives to any courses within a particular discipline that allow for achievement of the goals/objectives; it is an auditing tool that helps identify potential gaps in the curriculum.

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    Direct Assessment
    Gathers evidence about student learning based on student performance that demonstrates the learning itself; can be value added, related to standards, or quantitative, embedded or not, using local or external criteria.  Examples are written assignments, classroom assignments, presentations, test results, projects, logs, portfolios, and direct observations (Leskes, 2002)

    Direct Measure
    Tangible evidence of what students have and have not learned. (ASL)

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    Educated Person
    One who acquires and continues to expand upon the following:  1) a broad range of knowledge upon which to make value judgments; 2) the skills to locate valid information and comprehend that information; 3) the ability to analyze critically and synthesize efficiently valid information; and 4) the ability to listen carefully and to communicate effectively (CCAC)

    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 and/or 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). (Leskes, 2002)

    A means to measure, compare, and judge the quality of student work, schools, or a specific educational program. (CRESST)

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    Focus groups
    Consists of participants who might contribute useful information related to student learning, either through surveys or interviews.  Examples of possible focus groups include: 1) current students; 2) graduating students; 3) alumni; 4) current and perspective employers; 5) supervisors of students in field experiences. (Suskie)

    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.  Example: reading the first lab reports of a class to assess whether some or all students in the group need a lesson on how to make them succinct and informative. (Leskes, 2002)

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    General Education Learning Goals
    Support the definition of an educated person by uniting student learning experiences across all programs, courses, and services at CCAC. General Education Learning Goals include essential knowledge and skills that help students to adapt to and to participate in global, cultural, social, political, economic, personal, and technological change. The Learning Goals support students in achieving successful pursuits in higher education successful career, and life-long learning.

    Upon graduation with an Associate's Degree, a CCAC student will acquire a level of proficiency comparable with the first two years of a baccalaureate degree in the following six (6) General Education areas:

    - Communication
    - Technological Competencies
    - Information Literacy
    - Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
    - Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning
    - Culture, Society and Citizenship

    Clearly articulated statements of what the Community College of Allegheny County expects its students to learn. (CCAC)

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    Holistic Scoring
    Evaluating student work in which the score is based on an overall impression of student performance rather than multiple dimensions of performance (CRESST)

    A specific description of an outcome in terms of observable and assessable behaviors.  It specifies what a person who has the qualities articulated in an outcome knows or can do (adapted from BMCC)

    Indirect Assessment
    Acquiring evidence about how student feel about learning and their learning environment rather than actual demonstrations of outcome achievement.  Examples include: surveys, questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, and reflective essays. (Doug Eder)

    Indirect Measure
    Reveals students are learning but evidence of what students have learned is less clear. (ASL)

    Information Literacy
    Acquire, analyze, organize and evaluate information through technological and traditional means.

    1. Determine the nature and scope of information needed for a specific task.
    2. Critically evaluate and organize information sources and content.
    3. Acquire and use information ethically and legally.

    Institutional Assessment
    The on-going process of systematically measuring achievement of the Enduring Goals established by the College.  Results are utilized in the annual planning and resource allocation cycle to improve institutional effectiveness. (IAPC)

    Learning Outcomes (ACLS)
    Learning outcomes describe the learning mastered in behavioral terms at specific levels; in other words, what the learner will be able to do.

    Norm Referenced Assessment
    An assessment where student performance is compared to a larger group, usually a national sample representing a wide and diverse cross-section of students. (CRESST)

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    Objectives (Program)
    Detailed aspects of the program that are accomplished by the successful completion of the course outcomes. (CCAC).

    Refers to specific tasks needed to accomplish the goals of the program (Suskie, p. 74)

    Opportunity to Learn
    To expose students to an environment that will enable them to achieve high standards.  It is what takes place in the classrooms that enables students to acquire the knowledge and skills that are expected. (CRESST) 

    Learning outcomes that are observable, measurable and assessable; statements of the end products of student learning including knowledge, skills, competencies and attitudes. (CCAC)

    Course outcomes are the knowledge, skills, attitudes and habits of mind that students take with them from a particular course (Suskie, p. 75)

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    Performance Standards/Criteria
    Explicit definitions of what students must do to demonstrate proficiency at a specific level on the content standards.  For example, the performance level "exceptional achievement" on a dimension "communication of ideas" is reached when the student examines the problem from several different positions and provides adequate evidence to support each position.  CRESST (http://cresst96.cse.ucla.edu/CRESST/pages/glossary.htm)

    A systematic and organized collection of a student's work that exhibits to others the direct evidence of a student's efforts, achievements, and progress over a period of time.  It should include representative work, providing a documentation of the learner's performance and a basis for evaluation of the student's progress.  Portfolios may include a variety of demonstrations of learning and have been gathered in the form of a physical collection of materials, videos, CD-ROMs, reflective journals, etc. (http://www.newhorizons.org/strategies/assess/terminology.htm)

    Portfolio Assessment
    A portfolio becomes an assessment when: 1) the assessment purpose is clearly defined; 2) there are specific criteria for determining what is put in the portfolio by whom and when; 3) there are defined criteria for assessing either the collection or individual pieces. These criteria are then used to make judgments about performance. (CRESST)

    Primary Trait Analysis
    Involves analyzing assignments in order to identify factors or traits that are to count in the grading of an assignment and to create a scoring rubric that the teacher can use in grading and students can use in fulfilling the assignment (Barbara E. Walvoord and Virginia Johnson Anderson)

    Program Assessment
    Helps determine whether students can integrate learning from individual courses into a coherent whole.  It is interested in the cumulative effects of the education process (Palomba and Banta).  Whereas classroom assessment focuses on gauging learning for individual students, program assessment gauges the learning of a group of students.  The outcomes information in program assessment is used to improve courses, programs, and services.  (ASL)

    Program Objectives
    See: Objectives (Program)

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    Qualitative Assessment
    Uses flexible, naturalistic methods and are usually analyzed by looking for recurring patterns and themes.  Examples include: reflective writing, notes from focus groups, interviews, and observations, and online discussion threads.  (Linda Suskie)

    Quantitative Assessment
    Uses structured, predetermined response options that can be summarized into meaningful numbers and analyzed statistical.  Examples include: test scores, rubric scores, and survey ratings (Linda Suskie)

    Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning
    Apply appropriate mathematical and/or scientific concepts and theories in order to interpret data and solve problems based on verifiable evidence.

    1. Identify and extract relevant data from problems, experiments or projects.
    2. Organize data into tables, spreadsheets, graphs, symbols, equations and/or other visual representations.
    3. Analyze and interpret quantitative and qualitative data using sound mathematical/scientific concepts.
    4. Evaluate evidence and decide if conclusions based upon data are valid and consistent.

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    The degree to which the results of an assessment are dependable and consistently measure particular student knowledge and/or skills.  (CRESST)

    Specific sets of criteria that clearly define for both student and teacher what a range of acceptable and unacceptable performance looks like.  Criteria define descriptors of ability at each level of performance and assign values to each level.  Levels referred to are proficiency levels which describe a continuum from excellent to unacceptable product. (General Education Assessment Resource Center Glossary, Borough of Manhattan Community College)

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    A consistent set of procedures for designing, administering, and scoring an assessment. The purpose is to assure that all students are assessed under the same conditions so that their scores have the same meaning and are not influenced by differing conditions. (CRESST)

    The broadest of a family of terms referring to statements of expectations for student learning, including content standards, performance standards, and benchmarks. (CRESST)

    Student Artifacts
    A collection of papers, projects, documents, etc., which represent your knowledge, competency, understanding, and achievement of identified goals and learning incomes.

    Student Self Reflection
    Student ratings of their knowledge, skills and attitudes; this can provide useful indirect evidence of student learning and also helps students develop metacognitive skills (Suskie, p. 139)

    Summative Assessment  
    Evaluation at the conclusion of a unit or units of instruction or an activity or plan to determine or judge student skills and knowledge or effectiveness of a plan or activity.

    The gathering of information at the conclusion of a course When used for improvement, impacts the next cohort of students taking the course or program.  Example: examining student final exams in a course to see if certain specific areas of the curriculum were understood less well than others (Leskes, 2002)

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    Technological Competencies   
    Use digital technology, productivity software, discipline-specific applications, and technology-mediated collaboration tools to complete tasks.

    1. Use technology resources to design, develop, present and publish information products.
    2. Employ technology resources to conduct research, analyze data, solve problems, synthesize information and inform decision-making.
    3. Use technology ethically and legally.

    Test Blueprint   
    A list of learning goals that students are to demonstrate on a test; it is specially important for: 1) focusing on learning goals which instructors think are most important; 2) gives appropriate emphasis to thinking skills; 3) provides documentation that students have achieved major learning goals (Suskie, p. 202-203)

    A process of combining methodologies to strengthen the reliability of a design approach; when applied to alternative assessment, triangulation refers to the collection and comparison of data or information from three different sources or perspectives.  (http://sabes.org/assessment/glossary.htm)

    The extent to which an assessment measures what it is supposed to measure and the extent to which inferences and actions made on the basis of test scores are appropriate and accurate. (CRESST)

    Value Added  
    The increase in learning that occurs during a course, program, or undergraduate education.  Can either focus on the individual student (how much better a student can write, for example, at the end than at the beginning) or on a cohort of students (whether senior papers demonstrate more sophisticated writing skills-in the aggregate-than freshmen papers).  Requires a baseline measurement for comparison. (Leskes, 2002)

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