Glossary--Assessment at MSJC

The purpose of assessment at MSJC is to improve student learning

Administrative Unit Outcome (AUO): Describe the desired quality (timeliness, accuracy, responsiveness, etc.) of key functions and services within the administrative or support unit. AUO’s are expressed as statements of what users of the service experience, receive or understand as a result of a given service interaction. These should address both process and satisfaction indicators as well as performance metrics.

Assessment: Methods used to gather evidence and evaluate quality of student learning, programs, and administrative functions. The purpose of assessment is to improve student learning.

Asssessment Council: An ad-hoc task force of the Instititional Planning Committee charged with creating an institutional climate focused on assessment.

Assessment Cycle: Ongoing assessment at every level of the institution (i.e. institution, division, unit, program, course).

Institutional assessment cycle is completed on a six year cycle to coincide with the educational master plan (link needed).
Division/Unit/Program assessment cycle is completed in three year cycles (with annual updates).
Courses are each assessed at least once every three years.

Bloom's Taxonomy: Six levels arranged in order of increasing complexity or intellectual sophistication:
  1. Knowledge: Recalling or remembering information without necesssarily understanding it. Includes behaviors such as describing, listing, identifying, and labeling.
  2. Comprehension: Understanding learned material and includes behaviors such as explaining, discussing, and interpreting.
  3. Application: The ability to put ideas and concepts to work in solving problems. It includes behaviors such as demonstrating, showing, and making use of information.
  4. Analysis: Breaking down information into its component parts to see interrelationships and ideas. Related behaviors include differentiating, comparing, and categorizing.
  5. Synthesis: The ability to put parts together to form something original. It involves using creativity to compose or design something new.
  6. Evaluation: Judging the value of evidence based on definite criteria. Behaviors related to evaluation include: concluding, criticizing, prioritizing, and recommending.

NOTE: Lorin Anderson (Bloom’s former student) and David Krathwohl (a member of Bloom’s original team) have augmented taxonomy of learning by adding a new dimension which helps professionals better reflect on how learners think and connect the assessment method to the learning. The Anderson and Krathwohl model considers also the “what” and the “how” of knowledge. This added aspect of analysis is called the knowledge dimension. The knowledge dimension is divided into factual knowledge, conceptual knowledge, procedural knowledge and meta-cognitive knowledge. An excellent interactive visual representation of how the model works is located at Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Iowa State University and can be seen HERE.

Classroom assessment techniques (CATs): “Simple tools for collecting data on student learning in order to improve it” (Angelo & Cross, 1993, p. 26) CATs are short, flexible, classroom techniques that provide rapid, informative feedback to improve classroom dynamics by monitoring learning, from the student’s perspective, throughout the semester. Data from CATs are evaluated and used to facilitate continuous modifications and improvement in the classroom.

Closing the Loop: Process of creating student learning outcomes, assessing the student learning outcomes, gathering and analyzing the data from the assessment, making any necessary changes to the course, learning outcomes, or assessment and going through the process again.

Criteria: The qualities that we are looking for in the students' work (i.e. organization, coherence, critical thinking).

Departmental Learning Outcome (DLO): A Department Learning Outcome (or Learning Outcome as many institutions call them) is a statement of "the essential and enduring knowledge, abilities, and attitudes or dispositions" that a student should gain as a result of what has been learned in through a department.

DLOs are written for students and potential students and should be clear and understandable.

Embedded assessment: An assessment that is placed within a current assignment or exam rather than creating something new (i.e., common test questions, CATs, projects or writing assignments). Specific questions can be embedded on exams in classes across courses, departments, programs, or the institution.

Evidence: What students do to show they have the skills, knowledge, or abilities defined in the student learning outcome.

General Education Student Learning Outcomes (GELOs): The knowledge, skills, and abilities a student is expected to demonstrate following a program of courses designed to provide the student with a common core of knowledge consistent with a liberally educated or literate citizen.

Goals: Lofty, broad, ideas that are intangible, abstract and may not be measureable. They are long-term ideas of where you want to go.

Grades: The faculty evaluation of a student’s performance in a class as a whole. Grades represent an overall assessment of student class work, which sometimes involves factors unrelated to specific outcomes or student knowledge, values or abilities. For this reason equating grades to SLO assessment usually isn't appropriate. Grades may include (extra) credit for participating in college activities (or community activities) that are not necessarily related to the student learning happening in the classroom. Also, an 'A' in one instructor's class might be equivalent to an 'A' in another instructor's class. The assessment of the student learning outcome is based on the same criteria and standards for all sections of a course and is simply measuring what skill/knowledge has the student gained through the class.

Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILO): The knowledge, skills, and abilities a student is expected to leave the institution with as a result of their total experience. ILOs differ from GELOs in that the ILOs may include outcomes relating to institutional effectiveness (degrees, transfers, productivity) in addition to learning outcomes. ILOs include instructional and student service outcomes.

ILOs are written for students and potential students and should be clear and understandable.

Measurement/Assessment Tool: This refers to the instrument used to assess a student learning outcome. This includes, but is not limited to, essay questions, papers, presentations, or multiple choice questions. It is possible to have one measurement/assessment tool that assess multiple student learning outcomes.

Learning Objectives: Learning objectives are small steps that lead toward a goal, for instance the discrete course content that faculty cover within a discipline. Objectives are usually more numerous and create a framework for the overarching student learning outcomes which address synthesizing, evaluating and analyzing many of the objectives.

Objectives: Short-term steps used to get to a goal. S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound).

Program: An entity within the college organizational structure which has a distinct function with respect to other parallel entitles, to which staff, resources, and activities are dedicated.

The term program is not used in the same way as the Title 5 [§55000(g)] definition: “an organized sequence of courses leading to a defined objective, a degree, a certificate, a diploma, a license, or transfer to another institution of higher education.” While a state-approved program (under Title 5) like Communication Studies may be considered a program under the MSJC definition, the state-approved Liberal Arts degrees are not functional programs with dedicated staff, resources, and activities. Some programs are synonymous with disciplines, this is not always the case. We treat Anatomy and Physiology as a program, even though technically it belongs to the larger discipline of Biological Sciences, because we see it has dedication staff and resources aimed at a function distinct from the other grouping of Biological Sciences.

Examples of other entities across the college which have distinct functions are the Honors Enrichment Program, Enrollment Services, Payroll, Counseling, Police Department, etc.

Program Review: The process by which individual disciplines / departments and service / support units systematically evaluate their past performance to facilitate
continuous improvement, guide resource allocation, and assist the administration and board in making decisions about programs. Program review is a required activity spelled out in accreditation standards and board policy. See Closing the Loop.

Rubrics: The combination of criteria and standards that creates a common measurement/assessment tool.

Standards: Defined expectations for various levels of performance (i.e. excellent, acceptable, unacceptable).

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs):. These are the skills, knowledge, or attitudes that a student is expected to walk OUT of the course with.

SLOs are generally assessed with a small assignment or task that require the student to utilize multiple skills learned throughout the course to execute the assignment.

SLOs are written for students and potential students and should be clear and understandable.