Assessment: An Overview
The purpose of this chapter is to provide a broad context for discussions about approaches to outcomes assessment. It begins with a brief history of assessment movements in higher education since the early 19OOs. Next the actors involved in five forums are examined: federal agencies, accrediting bodies, national and regional organizations, the states, and institutions. The ongoing debate between assessment's advocates, detractors, worriers, skeptics, and critics is summarized. Three alternative approaches to penciland-paper testing are offered: authentic, research, and quality assessment. The chapter concludes with five lessons learned about successful outcomes assessments: (a) begin by clarifying the goals and values of education, (b) analyze practices as well as performances, (c) use multiple approaches, (d) involve everyone, especially faculty, and (e) foster communication.