Active learning: Strategies promoting higher order thinking skills among students. Active learning involves students’ being truly engaged in the instructional process, with activities such as reading, writing, discussing, and problem solving.
Assessment: The systematic process of gathering and analyzing information about student or program performance. The focus of assessment is to find an answer to the question, “Are we getting the desired results in our program?
Assessment method: the process employed to gather data.” (Bresciani & Fackler, 2005)
Assessment plan: a document which outlines when the evaluation will take place and how it will be conducted. An assessment plan includes program mission or course/activity purpose, goals as appropriate, intended outcomes, methods for gathering, analyzing data, and interpreting data for providing evidence to inform decision making.” (Bresciani & Fackler, 2005)
Bloom’s Taxonomy: First published in 1956, a classification of levels of learning behaviors or categories. The elements of the original Taxonomy included Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation. The revised Taxonomy now includes, in the same order, Remembering, Understanding, Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating, and Creating. The Taxonomy is often used as a way of determining the progression of learning or intellectual skills in a program. More advanced course work, for example, should rely on higher order skills while elementary course work could focus on lower level skills.
Closing the Loop: A step in an institutional effectiveness or assessment cycle. Many people think of closing the loop as a final step; it is, however, a step that is used to begin the cycle again, based on an analysis of what has been accomplished and learned up to that point. At UTD, assessment measures are used to determine program strengths and weaknesses. Analysis follows and leads to some decision about improving the program or continuing the program without change. It is that decision that serves to close the loop. The assessment process then begins again. See Closing the Loop for Degree Programs, Closing the Loop for Certificate Programs, Closing the Loop for Core Curriculum, Closing the Loop: Program Assessment, and Closing the Loop: Unit Assessment.
Direct Assessment method: any process employed to gather data which required subjects to display their knowledge, behavior, or thought processes.” These methods are directly observable. Direct assessment methods are preferred in documenting learning outcomes. (Bresciani & Fackler, 2005; Reed, 2005) Direct assessment measures may include individual projects, oral presentations, graphic tests and posters, research projects, embedded questions and assignments, capstone course projects, etc.
Indirect Assessment method: a process employed to gather data that are a reflection (e.g. survey, reflective essay, interview) of what a person thinks he/she thought, learned, or did as well as data using demographic and numerical descriptions. Indirect assessment methods are used primarily to corroborate and as support for learning outcomes.” (Bresciani & Fackler, 2005; Reed, 2005) Indirect assessment measures may include reflective essays, focus groups, attitudinal surveys, exit interviews, placement rates, etc.
Learning goals: General statements about what is included in a course. A learning goal is generally phrased. Usually learning goals are included in course descriptions. Most courses have between 3 and 10 learning goals. (Reed, 2005)
Learning objectives: Statements about what a student will gain from a course or activity. These are specific statements about exactly what a student should know, be able to do, or value as a result of accomplishing a learning goal. Learning objectives form the basis for curriculum and course development as well as testing. (Reed, 2005)
Learning outcome: A concrete action that a student demonstrates as a result of learning. A learning outcome can be a demonstration of knowledge, a skill, or a value. Generally, learning outcomes are assessed at the course and/or program levels. (Reed, 2005)
Mission statement: a concise statement outlining the purpose of the unit, program, course, or activity.” Mission statements are written so stakeholders will understand the unit, program, course, or activity. (Bresciani & Fackler, 2005; Reed, 2005)
Objective: A statement of intention or description of a goal. As with any objective, it should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART).
Outcomes: detailed, specific, measurable or identifiable, and personally meaningful statements that are derived from the goals [and learning objectives] that articulate what the end result of a unit, program, course, activity, pr process is.” (Bresciani & Fackler, 2005)
Program assessment: an interative and ongoing process of purposeful reflection and planning, where one systematically evaluates a program, course, or activity in order to identify strengths and areas for improvement and then uses the results from the evaluation as data to inform decision making.” (Bresciani & Fackler, 2005)
WEAVEonline: A subscription-based service that UTD is using to gather useful assessment data about all campus programs, both academic and administrative. WEAVE is an acronym for an assessment cycle that includes these steps: (1) Write expected outcomes or objectives; (2) Establish criteria for success; (3) Assess the performance of students or the program against the established criteria; (4) View assessment results and findings; (5) Effect improvements through actions designed to increase learning for students or other program performance. (Virginia Commonwealth University)