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Assessment FAQ | Bismarck State College

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Assessment FAQ

What is Assessment?
Assessment looks at individual competencies within a curriculum, be it a general education curriculum or a program curriculum.  It is a measure of student achievement, and its purpose is to document and improve student learning.  It works best when it is ongoing and cyclical in nature and when it is used to make continuous improvements to programs, courses, departments, and the college as a whole.

What is General Education Assessment?
Assessment of the curriculum shared by all transfer/liberal studies students which engages these students to multiple discipline areas.

What is Program Assessment?
Assessment of a prescribed curriculum that offers certificates, certificates of completion, diplomas, or AAS degrees.

Who must participate in assessment?
All faculty members are required to participate in assessment.

What is an assessment plan?
This is a formal plan which outlines learning objectives, competencies, measures and criteria.

What is an assessment report?
This is a cumulative report for the assessments performed during a specified time.  Usually done yearly, but could be longer/shorter if necessary.  BSC uses TracDat Assessment Management Software to assist in preparing and organizing all assessment reports.

What are learning objectives, competencies, and criteria?
A learning objective is a defined outcome that captures specifically what knowledge, skills, and attitudes students should be able to exhibit following instruction.  Competencies are more narrowly defined outcomes that correlate to the broader category learning objective.  Criteria are the standards to which success are measured to or from.

What are appropriate assessment measurement methods for program competencies?
Assessment is measured both directly and indirectly.  Direct methods of measurement may include: capstone projects, portfolios, standardized tests, pre-post testing, essay questions, juried review of comprehensive projects, and even individual assignments or tests.  Indirect methods of measurement may include: surveys (alumni, graduate, employer), exit interviews, retention studies, transfer studies, graduation rates, placement data, and focus groups.

What role does assessment play in accreditation?
Accreditation organizations often look to the assessment process and assessment results as a measure of an institution's overall effectiveness.  So in that sense, good assessment practice and use is important to accreditations and re-accreditations.

When are my assessment results due and how do I report them?
Results for assessment for the previous school year are due at the end of summer for general education assessment (A-C-T) and on December 31 for program assessment.  Submit reports to the faculty member in your area (Assessment Contacts).

What is "closing the loop?"
This refers to what is done with the results of assessment.  Once assessment has taken place, the results should be examined to determine if changes in instruction (or curriculum) are needed.  Good assessment is not just simply collecting data; it is using that data to improve student learning.