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ERIC Number: EJ1067282
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 20
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1544-0389
Demystifying Assessment: The Road to Accreditation
Garfolo, Blaine T.; L'Huillier, Barbara
Journal of College Teaching & Learning, v12 n3 p151-170 2015
Accreditation serves as both a quality assurance and accountability mechanism for our learning institutions. It is a voluntary process of self-regulation and non-governmental peer review supported, in general, by providers of tertiary education and examines the philosophy, goals, programs, facilities, resources, and financial viability of the institution. The culture of assessment and the information it generates should be embedded effectively within all institutional systems. This would enable an organization to focus their attention on the assumptions they make with respect to student learning and to promote a culture of continuous assessment and improvement in order to elevate students' quality of learning. It is through a process of programmatic assessment that evidence is gathered to support an application for accreditation to an appropriate accrediting agency. What is driving the assessment movement in higher education? How do accreditation bodies make their decisions? What is the precise basis for accreditation? For example, what filtering process does accreditation bodies use when determining what evidence is or is not relevant when arriving at the final accreditation decision. Presumably, as in courts of law, there must be some mechanism or pre-defined criteria in which evidence is weighed and an appropriate decision is reached. Unfortunately, the mechanism is poorly understood by educational institutions and faculty alike. However, the standards of almost all accreditors include the expectation that institutions clearly state student learning outcomes (SLOs) and to assess those outcomes. Although there are a variety of academic accrediting bodies their policies and approaches tend to be more alike than different and appear to share similar expectations for the assessment of SLOs. The key is the Assessment of Student Learning and it is a critical issue for students, teachers, curriculum designers, the accreditation process, quality assurance, and review of courses. How a student learns (student learning styles) and what they actually do learn (subject material) are often driven by the assessment required for a course of study. Assessment is an ongoing, continuing improvement process aimed at understanding and elevating student learning. Assessment involves: (1) Having clear, explicit and transparent expectations for both the student and the institution; (2) Setting the criteria for learning at an appropriate level to demonstrate quality of learning; (3) Gathering, analyzing, and reflecting on the evidence in a systematic way to determine if student learning has occurred to the depth and breadth stated; and (4) Using the information gathered to document, explain, and elevate student learning. The purpose of this paper is to present a "roadmap to assessment" that, if followed, will assist an organization in presenting themselves in the best possible light in order to gain accreditation. As methodology proceeds and ultimately provides the guiding strategy for the design and selection of methods used in the assessment process, the authors will present a methodology that will ensure that the assessment process is effective and successful. The authors will identify and analyze practices necessary to present a clear and concise body of work to an accreditation body. The authors will discuss the required elements involved in assessment in education and how to use assessment effectively as a means of maintaining both academic standards and enhancing the quality of the student learning experience. [Issue number (n4) displayed on the PDF is incorrect.]
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A