The diagram below shows how assessment efforts fit
into the educational process.
This simple model can be a good tool to promote
understanding of the process by which we measure our success in
providing cadets with the best educational experience we can. Our
assessment division can help ensure that your process is working the way
you intend it to.
At the core of instruction, educators provide goals
and objectives (usually at both course and program levels) which
serve as an outline for instructors and provide a learning framework for
students. These elements are directly related to desired educational
outcomes which reflect the overall behaviors we expect
students to demonstrate as a result of the presented course or program.
Being able to solve ill-defined problems, communicate
well, apply fundamental knowledge, etc. are all examples of
We then provide action to these planning
components by designing a structured course, a set of courses, or an
entire program of instruction which will meet the outcomes we have
identified. Daily classroom teaching and learning activities,
both within the classroom and outside it, form the core of this stage of
the process. The result of these efforts must be both evaluated and
refined in the following steps.
Ultimately, behaviors must be made "observable and
measurable" so that we can make a judgment about student learning. In
this step of the process, we collect data and observe student
behavior. This information is used as indicators of the level to
which we are reaching the desired outcomes. A variety of assessment
methods are often used to accomplish this; traditional instruments such
as tests, quizzes, projects, presentations are typically used to collect
these data from cadets. However, many others methods are available which
not only help students reflect on what they have learned, but can
help instructors assess their teaching effectiveness as
well. In this way, instructors obtain feedback from students about their
attitudes towards their learning. Surveys, focus groups, small
group interviews, and simple classroom activities are other instruments
which can complement data collected by more traditional instruments and
provide the instructor or course director with a much better picture of
the overall degree to which learning outcomes are being met. This is an
area where the assessment division can be especially helpful to you.
Collecting data concerning student achievement and the
effectiveness of the course or program isn’t useful unless it is used to
analyze the effectiveness through interpretation of all
the data collected. This information is used to make decisions
about "what works and what doesn’t", how instructional activities could
be improved, how learning can made more meaningful and so on.
Ultimately, if these data are collected and interpreted over a period of
several semesters or years, a longitudinal analysis emerges,
which is especially useful for accreditation purposes and long range
In all cases, it’s important to remember that the
model is iterative. That is, the process of collecting and interpreting
data will only be beneficial to the extent that it leads to improvements
in what we do. Our collective goal is to improve the quality of
education we all can provide for cadets. We in the Assessment Division
hope that we can help you meet this goal.