Assessment Quick Start Guide

Assessment is the process of identifying how well students are meeting the student learning outcomes, reflecting on our instructional strategies, and planning methods to improve both student learning and our teaching methods.

All full-time faculty are expected to document a minimum of one assessment per quarter. Part-time faculty are also encouraged to complete assessments each quarter.

At Highline we have several levels of student learning outcomes: college-wide, degree/certificate, and course:

College-Wide Outcomes (CWOs)
are statements that specify what students will know, be able to do, or demonstrate when they have completed any program of study at Highline. College-Wide outcomes are available in the Catalog at: College-Wide Outcomes.
Degree/Certificate Level Outcomes (DLOs)
are statements that specify what students will know, be able to do, or demonstrate when they have completed a specific degree or certificate. Degree outcomes are available in the Catalog at: Degree/Certificates.
Course Level Outcomes (CLOs)
are statements that specify what students will know, be able to do, or demonstrate when they have completed a specific course. Course outcomes are available in the Catalog at: Course Descriptions.

For this assessment process, we are focusing on whether students are mastering the outcomes associated with specific courses. We are assessing Course Level Outcomes (CLOs).

How to Document Your Assessment

Use the Assessment Tool

Documenting your assessment is a fairly easy thing to do using the Assessment Tool:

You start by selecting a course and the outcome to assess. Every quarter you add additional data to that assessment until you are confident that your teaching methods have been refined and students are mastering that outcome.

Pick a Course & Outcome to Assess

To begin a new assessment (in the Assessment Tool) click on the "Create a new assessment" link:

The create an assessment link button

Select the course, and then choose the outcome to assess:

The choosing a course and outcome section of the webpage

While you can select more than one outcome to assess, assessments usually target a limited number of learning outcomes. Choosing one or two outcomes is usually plenty to focus on at one time.

Click on the "Create Assessment" button to create and save the assessment "shell" where you'll be adding your assessment data each quarter.

The create an assessment button

The assessment "shell" that you just created is just a place to save assessment documentation for the course and the outcome that you selected. Each quarter, you'll open up this "shell" and add more quarterly data to it.

Add Quarterly Assessment Data

Select the Quarter

Each quarter you'll add documentation about how you are improving your teaching methods. Select which quarter you'd like to document:

The select a quarter dropdown.  It dispays a list of when you taught this course

Now begins the narrative part of your documentation.

Teach It

Briefly describe the teaching methods (e.g. lessons, activities, etc.) that you used to help students learn the course outcome. Assessment Tool question

Describe your teaching methods.

Your teaching methods should scaffold learning by building opportunities for students to practice and improve their skills, deepen and broaden their knowledge, and generalize and apply learning in real world situations.

You should present content using multiple methods; for example using readings, videos, case studies and role plays are a variety of methods that can be used to deliver specific content pertinent to the outcome.

Measure It

Briefly describe the assessment method (e.g. quiz, test, paper, survey, practicum, etc.) you used to measure whether the student met the outcome, including your established level of student proficiency. Assessment Tool question

How did you measure whether students met the outcome?

Just as multiple teaching methods are critical for presenting content, multiple ways for your students to demonstrate attainment of the outcome are also recommended.

Are your student assessment measures formative or summative? Both are useful. For additional information see: Formative Assessment vs. Summative Assessment

What is your established level of student proficiency? How many students met your established proficiency level? How many students did not meet the proficiency level?

Reflect on It

Reflect on the effectiveness of your teaching and/or assessment methods. What worked and what did not? Assessment Tool question

Consider your teaching strengths and preferences and how that influences the methods you chose to use. Think about how you did or did not provide multiple methods of presenting the content to your students.

  • What different ways did students have to show their developing competence in attaining the outcome? Did your assessments give you the information you were seeking?
  • Are your teaching methods and assessment measures well aligned with your outcome?
  • What was effective and worthy of using again? What needs to be changed or improved to be more useful?
  • Were your methods relevant to your students? Did your methods value what they already know, and did your students have a voice in their education (asset vs. deficit model)?
  • Were outcomes equitable? Were all kinds of students able to demonstrate competence or was there a pattern of specific types of students (e.g., international students, women, or students of color) doing poorly? To what do you attribute the equitable or non-equitable outcomes?

Improve It

Did you change or do you plan to change your teaching methods and/or assessment methods in response to the data you've collected? If yes, please describe these changes. Assessment Tool question

How did you use the information gained from your analysis and reflection to adjust and modify your teaching methods?

Teaching, learning and assessing learning is an on-going cycle. Instructors plan, teach, assess their students' proficiency, and review and reflect on their assessment findings. Being a reflective practitioner involves considering the feedback gained from assessment of students' achievement of the outcome to make informed decisions about adjusting/changing teaching methods and/or assessment processes to address students' trajectory to competence.

Sometimes the phrase "closing the loop" is used to refer to the adjustments instructors make to support students in attaining proficiency in the outcome. The adjustments can be teaching methods, assessment practices, external supports, etc.

Save and Submit for Review

Save your data by pressing the "Save Assessment" button. You can come back and continue to work on adding information to this assessment.

The save assessment button.

When you are finished editing this assessment press the "Submit for Review" button. If this is your first assessment, it will be sent to the Assessment Committee for review. After the Assessment Committee has reviewed your initial assessment, any future assessments will be available for review within your department. Each department determines their own process for reviewing assessments within the department.

The submit for review button

In Summary

Assessing student learning outcomes is an ongoing process and involves all members of the Highline community.

Continuous assessment activities allow us to identify what our students are learning, and whether our teaching strategies are working. With that information we can adapt and improve our teaching techniques.

Documenting our assessment activities and sharing them with others on campus helps us all improve our teaching methods. This process can promote further conversations within departments, leading to informed curricular decisions.