Santa Clara University

Office of Assessment


Here are six tips for evaluating student learning in the classroom or at the program level:

1. Work with a manageable number of measurable learning objectives.

2. Conduct projects that will give useful results and answer important questions.

3. For each objective under investigation, try to use data that already exist in your courses or program (e.g., course assignments, senior projects, exit surveys).

4. Use sampling techniques to gather student work (i.e.., use data from selected sections or selected students rather than from all enrolled majors).

5. Before evaluating student work, have all evaluators practice independently with one or two common pieces of student work and compare their evaluation results. Discuss results to clarify each evaluator’s understanding of the task. This comparison and consensus building process will help to avoid errors and biases.

6. Discuss the results at a department meeting and make a plan for how the results can be used to enhance or increase your students’ learning.

For more information see Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide (Suskie, 2009).

When writing multiple choice tests, be sure to vary the cognitive "level" required in the questions. While the multiple-choice test format is particularly useful for determining what a student remembers - recall of facts, principles, concepts, definition, etc - it can also be used to gauge students' higher order thinking. Asking questions that require students' to identify appropriate summaries, predictions, applications or evaluations of the concepts in your course are fantastic ways to identify what students have learned and understood from your course.

For more information see Developing and Validating Multiple Choice Test Items (Haladyna, 1994).

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