Assessment is the process of gathering and discussing information from multiple and diverse sources in order to develop a deep understanding of what students know, understand, and can do with their knowledge as a result of their educational experiences; the process culminates when assessment results are used to improve subsequent learning (Huba and Freed, 2000).
Assessment occurs at the course, departmental, college, and institutional levels. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), yet assessment practices at the university extend beyond SACSCOC to include many other accreditation agencies as well as our own practices of assessment. Assessment is important not just to our accreditors but also for student learning and continual improvement of our university programs.
The Assessment Reform Group from the UK has identified 10 main principles of assessment for learning:
- It is part of effective planning [for your course or program].
- It focuses on how students learn.
- It is central to classroom practice.
- It is a key professional skill.
- It is sensitive and constructive.
- It fosters motivation.
- It promotes understanding of goals and criteria.
- It helps learners know how to improve.
- It develops the capacity for self-assessment
- It recognizes all educational achievement. (ARG, 2002a)
The assessment movement has changed many institutions of higher education as we strive to show the quality of our programs in a visible way to internal and external constituents. This website contains many resources to support the assessment work of your programs or in your classroom. See the links to the right for assessment assistance.