Week 3: Thoughts about Assessment

assessmentAccording to Palomba & Banta (as cited in Banta & Palomba, 2015), “Assessment is the systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving learning and development” (pp. 1-2).

Lately I’ve been reading about assessment in general and discussing the topic with colleagues.  Most importantly, it is what we do with the assessment results (information) that matters.”  All too frequently, I think we focus on the “final” grade. We value – or so it appears – the end result – the final product – a test, a project, or a performance.  We may not assess the process involved in achieving the end result.  We know that students, too, get caught up in the final grade – a sort of race to the finish.  But, what do the grades really mean?

Is there a difference between grades and assessment?

Do faculty use assessment (results, data) to improve student learning?

Are grades a reliable measure of student learning?

Are grades an accurate way to measure learning outcomes?

Are grades (criteria, standards) applied consistently among faculty?

How do faculty or should faculty?) de-emphasize grades to encourage or promote a greater interest in learning for the sake of learning?

These are just some of the questions that my colleagues and I have been pondering the past couple of weeks.


Banta, T.W., & Palomba, C.A. (2015). Assessment Essentials: Planning, implementing, and improving assessment in higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


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