Assessment practices in higher learning institutions are experiencing a period of change and innovation. Historically, assessment programs were meant to foster curricular improvements or to demonstrate accountability for learning goals. These two aspects of the assessment process are now merging to form tougher accreditation standards that ultimately guarantee educational quality.
Dan LeClair, AACSB’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, speaks to this evolution in a recent article in which he states that schools are not only accountable for evidence-based improvements, but also for achieving the learning goals they establish for programs.
The evolution of assessment practices can be attributed to an increased demand for learning transparency and to the advancement of technology in the education industry. Let’s discuss how these forces of change are impacting learning assessment.
Stakeholders, such as companies and students, are demanding more transparency regarding the achievement of learning outcomes. On one hand, hiring organizations expect degrees to match the competencies students have mastered in school, thus resulting in informed hiring decisions. On the other hand, students need learning outcomes data to better choose university/programs that truly meet their needs.
An increased demand for transparency leads schools to collect more information about student learning and program goals. According to Dan LeClair, schools currently miss an opportunity to further provide companies and students with richer information when they ignore the assessment of student learning throughout the program.
Schools generally focus on assessing for proficiency, implementing learning assessment at the end of a program. However, assessing learning throughout a program allows schools and students to demonstrate progression and not just achievement. This progression can then be used to make informed decisions about developmental needs and learning pathways.
The advancement in technology that has characterized the new millennium is shaping the future of assessment in the following three ways:
- New digital tools are helping schools improve the quality of data collected. In addition, these tools also improve the efficiency of data collection and empower the effective use of such data.
- Technological advances now allow students and hiring organizations to compare credentials such as degrees, certificates, and specializations.
- Technology is impacting the expectations of business education, as the development of soft skills has overshadowed the importance of quantitative skills. As Dan LeClair states, “Measuring our ability to apply knowledge in the workplace and our social skills development will take on a more elevated focus on most assessment programs.”
Learning assessment will continue to evolve into a venue for schools to demonstrate educational quality and its resulting value to the marketplace. To effectively utilize learning outcomes assessment for accreditation and student development purposes, schools must innovate and adapt to changing expectations. To learn how Capsim’s learning assessment solutions can help you innovate and adapt, click here or contact us at [email protected].