To assess student outcomes meaningfully, we must have performance criteria to guide us. Performance Criteria are specific measureable statements identifying the performances required to meet the outcome with confirmable, thorough evidence. Once performance criteria have been defined, the methodologies and direct or indirect approaches used in assessment vary from program to program and also implementation strategies.
Educational practices and strategies may mean how you would implement various combinations of assessment methods listed above, and the frequency and interval of those assessment methods. Here is where most of people differ about good practices or excessive/overly burdensome process of assessment. How often should we collect and evaluate results? Who should be involved and responsible for the process? Should each outcome be assessed every year? How much objective evidence is considered sufficient? How many courses should be used to gauge the success level in meeting a specific student outcome? Should we use embedded course assessment? Once you answer these and other questions, you will arrive at an educational practice that may work for you. The next question is "Assessment."
Assessment is the processes that identify, collect, analyze, and report data that can be used to evaluate achievement. In this case, achievement is the student outcomes or course outcomes. Assessment is generally a time-consuming data collection process and an analysis of evidence for meaningful evaluation, the next logical step.
Evaluation is a process of reviewing the results of data collection and analysis and making a determination of the value of findings and actions to be taken. In view of this definition of evaluation, evaluation is a critical step to ensure the quality improvement process. Without proper evaluation, the assessment of data collection is rendered meaningless and eventually leads to failure and frustration for the parties involved.
With evaluation comes action items. Perhaps the most meaningful step in the overall flow cycle of assessment is the action items that allow closing the loop for real quality assurance. With action items as the feedback loop to change or improve student outcomes, performance criteria, and educational practices, the cycle of outcomes assessment is repetitive or a work-in-progress. This form the Level 2: SO Assessment.