How to Assess Student Learning Outcomes? with Proper Definition and Brief Explanation

How to assess student learning outcomes is a question that needs to be answered well. Assessments of learning outcomes depend on the type of learning that students experience. For example, assessing student learning in an academic year and the same in vocational training can be totally different. In the former case, students might be expected to sit for an exam or even conduct research on a relevant topic. However, students in a training course are expected to demonstrate their skills by taking a practical assessment session. Therefore, it is clear that an assessment of knowledge of a certain discipline and that of skills-based learning takes two different paths. What’s more, There are criteria that evaluate the general standards of a learning process and those related to the individual knowledge and skills of students. These are known as indirect and direct measurements respectively.

Assessing Student Learning Outcomes: Examples of Assessment Types

Post tests / exams (oral, written), tasks based on theoretical understanding (a report on a case study), observations of a given task (laboratory practices, medical surgeries), evaluation of the explanation / logical reasoning of the Student theory (Presentations, creative demonstrations), thesis writing, design of innovative models based on theoretical understanding could be pointed out as examples of assessment modes in learning. Again, it is important to note that the type of assessment varies in relation to the category of learning, theory, practical skills, etc.

Indirect and direct measures to assess SLO

Indirect measures of learning outcomes consider the effectiveness of a learning process as a whole, including its applicability in the professional world. In addition, it takes into account alumni statistical data, the career prospects available to students, the number of research components published annually, retention and graduation rates, and the graduate opportunities on which the course is based. These measures are important to evaluate the quantitative and qualitative results of a learning process that a group of students experiences in an institution. However, indirect measures do not assess the specific learning of students and the tasks they can perform as a result.

Direct measures, on the other hand, assess the knowledge and skills that students gained over a period. The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) is one of the standardized tests used in the United States that falls into this category of direct measures. The CLA is designed to measure critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving, and written communication skills. The test’s creators explain the approach to assessment at CLA as “the collective and cumulative result of what does or does not take place during the four to six years of undergraduate education in and out of the classroom.” Therefore, it is clear that the test does not aim to assess subject-related knowledge in terms of each degree course.

To summarize, there are a variety of assessment methods available in education to assess student learning outcomes. They vary depending on the mode of learning that students experience. Direct and indirect measures are two key mechanisms used in the field of education to evaluate standards and statistics related to a learning process and students’ knowledge and skills, respectively.

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