Assessment Glossary

The assessment world is overflowing with undefined jargon. You can search for any of these words on Google and find 100 competing or opposing definitions for these terms, but this is how Rhodes College has chosen to define the following assessment-related terms. If you have any suggestions or better definitions for any of these words, please contact Dr. Rashna Richards, Dean for Faculty Reviews and Assessment. 

Assessment: The ongoing process of (1) establishing clear, demonstrable, expected outcomes of student learning, (2) ensuring that students have sufficient opportunities to achieve these outcomes, (3) systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well student learning matches our expectations; and (4) using the resulting information to understand and improve student learning as well as to celebrate successes.

Program Goals: Broad educational goals of the department or program and its programmatic elements.

Student Learning Outcomes: Statements of what students will be able to do with what they know. 

Curriculum Mapping: The process of ensuring that student learning outcomes are thoughtfully introduced, developed, and assessed in a curriculum.

Direct Assessment: Assignments involving any tasks or activities that require students to demonstrate directly what they have learned in terms of knowledge and/or skills (i.e., what faculty thinks students know). All student learning outcomes should have at least one direct measure. 

Indirect Assessment:  Assignments involving any tasks or activities from which one can infer student learning but in which that learning is not demonstrated directly (i.e., what students think they know). 

Rubrics: Criterion-based assessment scales that define each level of learning (e.g., unsuccessful, successful, outstanding) and incorporate descriptive criteria to determine the extent to which students successfully perform a learning outcome or outcomes.