Assessment of Student Learning
Assessment of student learning is the systematic process through which faculty members articulate learning goals for their students, measure students' progress toward meeting those goals, and use this information to improve their own courses, programs, and institutions.
In this process, faculty members ask:
- What do we expect our students to learn?
- How do we know whether they've learned it or not?
- On the basis of the information from this assessment, what improvements in courses, programs, and the institution can we make to reach our goals for student learning?
Assessment is both an important part of the re-accreditation process and a tool for improving teaching. It enables the university to concretely demonstrate its effectiveness in meeting its educational goals.
While the language of assessment—terms such as "measure," "outcomes," and "accountability"—is somewhat foreign to academia, the central concepts are not. Faculty usually have learning goals in mind for students in their courses. Learning goals are implicit in faculty conversations about a program's curriculum, but they are not always explicit in course development, are not always critically evaluated, and are not always made clear to students. A systematic process of assessing student learning offers a more transparent method for thinking about the goals of a course, a program, and a university.
Our challenge is to engage in assessment in ways that teach us more of what we need to know as educators—that is, to actively use assessment as a pedagogical tool. The Provost's Office will support academic programs and departments to develop ways of assessing student learning that are responsive to the specific qualities and needs required for their particular disciplinary and professional domains.
Learning Outcomes for New School Programs
The Assessment of Student Learning Committee advises the Provost's Office on the direction, overall character, and quality of student learning assessment. The committee has developed the guidelines listed below.
Guiding Principles for Assessing Student Learning at The New School
We are committed to quality teaching and learning and to continual re-examination of our effectiveness. Assessment is a tool that enables faculty to determine how to improve and reshape student learning.
• Program assessment is directed by faculty with the intention of improving teaching and learning and is a formalization of work in which faculty already engage.
• Assessment is not intended and will not be used to evaluate individual faculty members.
• Program assessment is intended to evaluate students' broad learning experiences across the curriculum and co-curricular activities.
• Assessment will vary across programs and should be designed to be ongoing and sustainable to support continuous improvement of student learning.
Assessments help answer such questions as
• Do our programs help student realize their personal, work, and life goals?
• On graduation, are they well prepared for the lives they will pursue?
Programs are recognized for conducting meaningful assessments and reforming their curricula in response to what they learn.