Direct Measures of student learning assess actual student work or behavior of identified learning objectives, usually derived as part of the regular educational experience of students in courses.
Direct measures are most effective if they utilize work embedded in a course, assignments or exams that are part of the course and count towards the grade. Not only do students take this type of assessment more seriously, but it helps ensure that our assessments benefit student learning (i.e., that assessment is for learning, rather than simply of learning).
Types of direct measures
- Course-embedded assessment (assignments, exams, projects that are part of a course)
- Tests and examinations (locally/faculty designed and/or commercially produced standardized tests). These may be given during the senior year as a summative assessment.
- Capstone course assessment
- Portfolio Evaluation (through paper or ePortfolio, this can include multiple pieces of student work and can be used to measure growth over time)
- Evaluation of performance (live or on videotape or audiotape)
Direct measures: Making them effective
- Assignments/exams/student work products should be able to provide evidence directly related to the knowledge or skills represented by the Learning Outcome.
- Evidence should reflect cumulative learning (i.e., should not be from work completed early in the quarter).
- Faculty should be confident that the assignment/exam/activity gave students the opportunity to demonstrate their learning fully. The format of the assignment may limit students' ability to demonstrate their learning if it asks for a brief response (e.g., a short answer question on an exam). Learning outcomes that reflect more complex cognitive outcomes (application/analysis/synthesis) will be best assessed through assignments that allow students to fully demonstrate their learning of these processes, such as papers or projects.
- If the program is interested in assessing student attainment over time, it is important to include a preliminary assessment and a follow-up assessment that are comparable.
- Consider whether the same piece of evidence (e.g., research paper) can be used to assess more than one SLO. Capstones are particularly conducive to this.
- Will the type of evidence gathered help the program understand what it can do to improve?