Alternatives To Outcome Assessment Testing In Higher Education

2137 words - 9 pages

Assessment is not simply a test, but a process by which information is obtained and related to some known objective or goal (Kizlik, 2011). Assessment can embody testing, but testing by itself is not a valid type of knowledge assessment. Accurate measurement requires both testing and observational methods. Assessment results may then be used for reporting purposes or to make changes in the study program for a particular participant or students. In order to assess student learning accurately and completely, objectives must be in place, along with a way to collect and measure data.

Assessment History

Assessment is a study in evolution within higher educational institutions. The history of assessment is traceable to as early as the Middle Ages. For instance, in medieval Paris at the University of Bologna, Master of Arts in either law or theology taught incoming students. Only when students had studied and learned grammar and philosophy during a four-year program did they go on to study with a master. The master assessed students daily through a question and answer process to prepare them for public examinations. These public examinations usually consisted of disputations or debates that students had studied and memorized. A disputation might last an entire day and would be given by the master and defended by one or more students (respondents). Since disputations were major affairs in many towns, the university would sometimes cancel other events to make sure everyone could attend.

Harsh punishment was also part of being a student throughout the nineteenth century. Because they felt it inspired student learning, medieval schools masters could dole out harsh admonishment to their students such as using corporal punishment or belittlement for misbehavior. Humanist influence in the nineteenth century led to a prize system. This new ideology that encourages building a student's self esteem to increase educational growth lead to the idea of rewarding students for their good works as opposed to only administering negative consequences . Enrollment in educational institutions increased exponentially at this time.

Education had generally been a pursuit that resided in the realm of the very wealthy; however, gradually the merit system began to emerge among institutions. As a result, notae or note taking began to record academic progress as it became necessary for institutions to begin recording student achievement for prize allotment. Imperial Chinese examinations were the first known exams that based on merit. Then Europe began to model their exams after the Chinese model and the modern examination that led to traditional assessment practices began to emerge (Wilbrink, 1997). This was the beginning of the grading system within existing institutions today.

The Problem of Outcomes Assessment

As colleges and universities begin to keep track of students entering and exiting their establishments, they look at a spread of facts to decide...

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