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Making Assessment Matter: Changing Cultures, Improving Teaching, and Transforming Departments
Unformatted Document Text:  Deardorff and Folger 14 their peers’ participation to the expectations four or five times during the course of the semester and students use it during most sessions in the capstone. The professors can also use the same expectations as the basis of their evaluation of student performance as well. To use this approach for departmental assessment there must be some common indicators on both instruments. Ideally, in addition to the students’ multiple evaluation within the classroom, members of the department observe and assess students’ performance occasionally. By doing this, not only can the development of skills over time be demonstrated, but also the department demonstrates a consistent focus on achieving this objective. This same approach can be used to demonstrate the inculcation of values and the application of knowledge. This approach is less effective in the assessment of student comprehension of the knowledge goals articulated by the department. In order for this technique to become a coherent assessment plan the department must meet annually to collectively discuss their findings from classroom assessment activities. If our departments are “[d]riven by compelling questions about how students translate what they have learned into their own set of practices, assessment promotes sustained institutional dialogue about teaching and learning” (Maki 2004, 3). By simply recording what they discovered in their classrooms that year and across the department, and noting what they would do the following year, the pivotal feedback loop will be closed. This means that the department does not simply gather information, but applies it to improve the program. This is what we generally do every semester when we personally evaluate the success and failings of each of our courses—we simply apply the identical process to the entire department. Once faculty become confident and comfortable with the process of simple classroom assessment projects they may begin to see how this process can document their efforts in the classroom and demonstrate progress towards departmental objectives and goals. If assessment becomes a way of receiving formative information rather than only a summative evaluation—a means of evaluating the success of individual and departmental approaches toward shared goals—it becomes less threatening. We are simply receiving guidance as to the relative utility of our methods, not being labeled a “success” or a “failure” in our classroom performance. As we discuss our teaching with each other, not only does the department become more focused on shared goals, but it may be willing to expand assessment activities beyond a shared pedagogical technique and new questions to answer may arise.

Authors: Deardorff, Michelle. and Folger, Paul.
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Deardorff and Folger 14
their peers’ participation to the expectations four or five times during the course of the semester and
students use it during most sessions in the capstone. The professors can also use the same expectations
as the basis of their evaluation of student performance as well. To use this approach for departmental
assessment there must be some common indicators on both instruments. Ideally, in addition to the
students’ multiple evaluation within the classroom, members of the department observe and assess
students’ performance occasionally. By doing this, not only can the development of skills over time be
demonstrated,
but also the department demonstrates a consistent focus on achieving this objective. This
same approach can be used to demonstrate the inculcation of values and the application of knowledge.
This approach is less effective in the assessment of student comprehension of the knowledge goals
articulated by the department.
In order for this technique to become a coherent assessment plan the department must meet annually
to collectively discuss their findings from classroom assessment activities. If our departments are
“[d]riven by compelling questions about how students translate what they have learned into their own set
of practices, assessment promotes sustained institutional dialogue about teaching and learning” (Maki
2004, 3). By simply recording what they discovered in their classrooms that year and across the
department, and noting what they would do the following year, the pivotal feedback loop will be closed.
This means that the department does not simply gather information, but applies it to improve the
program. This is what we generally do every semester when we personally evaluate the success and
failings of each of our courses—we simply apply the identical process to the entire department.
Once faculty become confident and comfortable with the process of simple classroom assessment
projects they may begin to see how this process can document their efforts in the classroom and
demonstrate progress towards departmental objectives and goals. If assessment becomes a way of
receiving formative information rather than only a summative evaluation—a means of evaluating the
success of individual and departmental approaches toward shared goals—it becomes less threatening. We
are simply receiving guidance as to the relative utility of our methods, not being labeled a “success” or a
“failure” in our classroom performance. As we discuss our teaching with each other, not only does the
department become more focused on shared goals, but it may be willing to expand assessment activities
beyond a shared pedagogical technique and new questions to answer may arise.


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