© 2016 GW Libraries & Academic Innovation
Estelle and Melvin Gelman LibraryEckles Library at the Mount Vernon CampusVirginia Science and Technology Campus Library

Assessment of Student Learning

Every assessment plan should begin with course goals and objectives.  Module level objectives or learning outcomes should be measurable and provide evidence of mastery through student performance.  Now that you have developed the course goals and objectives, we will move on to planning how we will measure achievement at the course level. For information on other levels of assessment addressed at GW, including program, general education, visit the Office of Academic Planning, Institutional Research, and Assessment.

Assessment Strategy

Assessment is about more than evaluations of learning at the end of teaching segments, such as traditional tests or papers. Research shows that assessment works best when it is ongoing  in ways that help students and teachers gauge learning in progress. This ongoing, or formative, assessment provides feedback that allows students to address their shortcomings in a timely fashion. Best practice is that courses should include summative (at the ending of a learning segment) and formative (ongoing during a learning segment) assessments.

The assessment strategy is your plan for how you will approach assessment, such as the following:

  1. A pre-assessment or pre-instructional survey to understand students' needs in relation to objectives in order to provide guidance in the development of appropriate learning activities for learning growth.
  2. Assessment opportunities that punctuate a course to provide the student with performance feedback on concepts and learning activities.  Learning styles should be taken into consideration by providing a diverse array of assessment methods to reflect student understanding of the learning objectives. Opportunities for relearning and reassessment should be available to students.
  3. Methods for deploying the assessment.
  4. Strategies, techniques, and tools designed to thwart or minimize plagiarism and academic dishonesty.
  5. Post-assessment, which includes evaluation of overall student performance and indicates ultimate mastery of the critical content and the ability to incorporate the content into real-world applications.

The process for creating an assessment can be visualized as below:

Process for creating an assessment

Assessments can take many forms. Almost any approach taken in an in-person course can be accomplished online with the right instructions and tools. Also, there are assessments that are uniquely suited to the online environment. See the sections on Authentic Assessment and Ideas for Assessment for more detail.