Assessment Brief #103 - Creative Assessment Methods

Assessment Logo: assessment-revision-outcomes

February 2019

Creative Assessment Methods

Most departmental assessment plans include similar methods of assessment. For direct assessment, departments typically score a major writing project with an analytical rubric, while indirect assessment focuses on course evaluation data. If these approaches do not yield meaningful data, here are some other ideas for both direct and indirect assessment methods:

  1. Conduct mock interviews with a random sample of your students in which you ask them about authentic problems and scenarios in the field. This is a great way to assess students' knowledge and "soft" skills while also preparing them for the job market. Develop a simple score card that includes both a rating scale and an opportunity for brief narrative comments. Results can be shared with the student being interviewed and compiled for sharing and discussion with faculty in the department.
  2. Send out a survey to students in introductory and capstone courses in the major. The survey includes questions that assess important knowledge related to the field. It can also include behaviorally oriented questions that demonstrate students' ability to apply knowledge as well as the affective dimensions of learning.
  3. Ask students in an introductory core course to engage in a self-assessment on essential hard and soft skills needed for success in the major; then ask them to create an individualized plan designed to address their own self-identified areas for improvement, which they can also discuss with their advisor. Share the students' self-assessments and individualized plans with faculty as a whole, and discuss strategies for promoting the most commonly cited deficiencies in the assessments and plans.
  4. Hold a workshop session in which faculty exchange and review random samples of student work. Ask faculty teaching capstone courses in the major to bring in two samples of a certain assigned genre (e.g., research paper, lab report, policy statement, legal brief). Create a simple holistic scoring guide for that type of writing. Exchange papers among faculty, and have each faculty member score two papers (from students who they did not teach). Tally up scores, discuss salient areas needing improvement, and share or develop strategies for improvement.
  5. Require students in one of your upper-level classes to develop their own resumes and cover letters in which they need to demonstrate their knowledge and skills relating to their major and intended profession. Ask faculty to develop a scoring guide that assesses whether students can articulate their knowledge and skills that are essential for professional and lifelong success. Then provide the students with feedback. Keep track of those skills that are strongest and most deficient. Discuss the list with your faculty, and develop strategies for improvement.
  6. Create a departmental undergraduate conference or colloquium where students present findings from major capstone projects. Ask faculty (who did not teach the students) or outside experts to score the presentations using a simple rating scale and comment sheet. Summarize data, share with faculty, and develop strategies for improvement on those salient areas needing attention.
  7. Create a departmental student organization whose charge is to create a departmentally based journal for undergraduates in the major. Work with the student organization leaders to develop criteria for publication, and ask all students in a particular core course in the major to submit a paper for possible inclusion in the journal. Ask student board members to score each submission. Tally results, and then share with faculty and discuss at a departmental faculty meeting.
  8. Consider having a trained facilitator for Small Group Instructional Diagnosis conduct a session with upper-class students focusing on evaluating their entire experience in the program (rather than a specific course). Share results at a faculty meeting, and generate strategies for improving the major or degree.