Student Learning: Assessment

Think about authentic assessment design (Stull, J., Varnum, S., Ducette, J., & Schiller, J. (2011). The many faces of formative assessment. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 23(1), 30-39.)

  • Does this assessment replicate or simulate the contexts in which adults are “tested” in the workplace, civic life or personal life?
  • Does this assessment challenge students to use what they’ve learned in solving new problems?
  • Does this assessment provide direct evidence of learning? 
  • Are the descriptions/criteria for success/mastery transparent? How will students know what “good work” is?
  • Is this assessment realistic? Have students been able to practice along the way?
  • Does this assessment truly demonstrate success and mastery of a skill students should have at the end of your course?

Ask students (perhaps in subsets of the whole class) to work up periodic assessment and feedback about the experiential learning component: set deadlines at the beginning of the course.

  • Use the assessments for any changes of emphasis or direction that might be needed;
  • Use the periodic assessments to help students build to any final essay, project, or exam the course may entail;
  • Incorporate student-selected course-trajectories into final essays, projects, or exams.

Consider assessing students on communication effectiveness with community partner, by garnering feedback from the partners and students.

  • Have students examine professionally/contextually appropriate language use, tone, formats, etc.

Try to have one-on-one consultations with students about their experiences, what worked, what didn’t, what they learned and didn’t learn, and why. Students might be encouraged to think about the difference between what actually happens in their experiential learning and an imagined ideal possibility and an imagined disastrous possibility.

  • This could help thematize the role expectations play in inflecting experiential learning;
  • Ask students to consider what an “ideal outcome” of experiential learning might be at the outset of the course, and challenge them to strategize how to bring this about;
    • Periodic assessment can determine the adequacy of the original strategies and ideals;
    • Later reflection about what actually happened in comparison to the early anticipations can be richly provocative;
    • Ask students to hypothesize three causal factors in the gap between anticipation and reality.
      • Is this gap a positive, a negative, or a mix?
      • How might future instances of this experiential learning be guided by this instance? (ask students to help shape the experience of future students in courses like this; ask them to consider being “alumni contacts” for future students working on this or related projects.

Encourage students to articulate and document how they adapted/managed their expectations. What strategies did/could they use to strengthen their resilience, grit, optimism, etc?

  • Consider how you can leverage documentation as a means to empower students to showcase their achievements to potential employers.
    • Can assignments be submitted via a public-facing website?
    • Can final assignments feed into a portfolio website or publishable format?