Today’s post is a Guest Post from a faithful reader and client on the tenure track, and also on the job market, who discovered some interesting points about “assessment” while she was at some interviews this year. More and more often, candidates find themselves being asked about assessment, and indeed, just today I was assisting with a postdoc app that also required the applicant to discuss assessment strategies in their teaching. I recommend that all job candidates familiarize themselves with some of the ideas and terminology surrounding this increasingly common term, reflecting as they do the pressure the academy is under to “rationalize” its practices and “prove” its legitimacy and effectiveness. Readers, please add your own experiences with this interview theme in the comment thread below.
I recently had two phone interviews with major universities, and one campus visit. Questions about assessment came up in both phone interviews, and in the campus visit. My guess is that assessment is on the minds of search committee members as more accrediting agencies emphasize assessment in the review process.
The first question in the phone interviews asked how I would assess a course. The second asked how I would incorporate assessment in curriculum development. I’m reproducing my responses below because I think that it would be helpful to blog readers to have a response ready should similar questions be asked of them.
In response to the first question, I answered that I use several assessment strategies in my courses:
— Scoring and instructional rubrics to help students to focus on content and to guide them in developing presentations and written and oral reports
— Concept maps in order to help students to understand the big picture
— Cooperative learning assessment to encourage peer-to-peer learning
I also use multiple assessment tools. Assessment tools that are common to my courses include:
— Concept Tests
— Oral presentations
— Written reports
— Peer review
— Research projects and papers
— In project-based courses, performance assessment
In response to the second question, about incorporating assessment into curriculum development, I would argue that curriculum development initiatives should incorporate a combination of formative and summative assessment within the curriculum development process.
- Formative assessment activities are used to provide feedback, evaluating learning progress in order to motivate students to higher levels.
- Summative assessment activities are used to judge final products for completion, competency and/or demonstrated improvement.
Formative assessment can be used during planning and implementation of courses,through the use of tools like surveys and student focus groups in order to ensure that individual course and curricular objectives are being met.
Upon completion of individual courses and/or a program of study, a combination of formative and summative assessment can be used to evaluate competency and solicit feedback in order to ascertain whether goals and objectives are being met.