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Assessment Glossary

Assessment: The ongoing process of (1) establishing clear, demonstrable, observable expected outcomes of student learning, (2) ensuring that students have sufficient opportunities to achieve these outcomes, (3) systematically gathering, analyzing and interpreting evidence to determine how well student learning matches our expectations; and (4) using the resulting information to understand and improve student learning as well as to celebrate current successes.

Assessment Project Criteria: The principles that, if followed, are more likely to make for an appropriate assessment project. The criteria are meaningfulness, manageability, and demonstrability.

Curricular Goals: Broad, general statements of (1) what the department/program will do to provide students with desired knowledge and skills, and (2) what students will do so that they gain desired knowledge and skills.

Learning Outcomes: Statements of what students will know be able to do at the program or course level. Learning outcomes use precise action verbs and have the following structure:  (1) A phrase or sentence beginning "Students can" or "Students are able to"; (2) A verb that captures the action the student will be able to take the demonstrates the knowledge or skill in question; and (3) A concluding phrase that elaborates on the verb to specify the outcome in context of the particular course or department/program. Learning outcomes are always  demonstrable/observable.

Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy: A set of six cognitive learning levels that can be usefully distinguished from one another by the verbs used in assessment at each level; the levels are remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.

Curricular Mapping: The process of making sure that any learning outcomes that will be assessed in a course are taught in that course, or that any learning outcomes that will be assessed by the end of the major are taught in specific courses within the major that students are reasonably expected to take.

Direct Assessment: Assignments involving any tasks or activities that require students to demonstrate directly what they have learned in terms of knowledge and/or skills. 

Indirect Assessment:  Assignments involving any tasks or activities from which one can infer student learning but in which that learning is not demonstrated directly. At Colorado College, a department may elect to include indirect assessment measures but these cannot be the entirety of its assessment program.

Rubrics: Criterion-based assessment scales that define each level of learning (e.g., unsuccessful, successful, outstanding) and incorporate descriptive criteria to determine the extent to which a particular student succeeded with a particular learning outcome.

Assessment Cycle: The complete process for a particular assessment project, including selecting the project, collecting information, reflecting on the information, determining curricular/pedagogical changes to improve student learning, and implementing the changes.