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Different Approaches

There are five ways to approach assessment, each of which addresses a different question. These are presented below in increasing order of assessment difficulty:

  1. What do students know and what can they do compared to external absolute standards or pre-established criteria for such knowledge and skills? This is relatively easy to assess if the standards or criteria are available and clear.
  2. How much did students learn over the course of the class or program? This can be assessed using demonstrations of knowledge/skills at the beginning and end of the course or program.
  3. How much is student learning improving or failing to improve over time? While similar to the above approach, the approach is broader and may incorporate multiple arenas of learning.
  4. How much are students learning compared to the amount they are capable of learning? This type of assessment is less common since it can be hard to determine what students are capable of learning.
  5. How is student learning going at Colorado College compared to our peer institutions? Obtaining benchmarking information can be politically and logistically difficult, so this type of assessment is not very common.