Linda Suskie

 A Common Sense Appr​oach to Assessment in Higher Education


If you're not teaching it, there's not much point in assessing it

Posted on September 16, 2014 at 12:20 AM

Curriculum maps—those charts that list a program’s key learning outcomes on one side and the program’s courses across the top—are everywhere these days. Why? One reason is that, if you’re teaching something, you’re probably grading students on it. And if you’re grading students on it, you’ve probably got assessment information already in hand, making the assessment job easier.


Another reason is that, if your students aren’t doing well on a particular assessment, curriculum maps can help you figure out whether students are getting enough opportunities to learn that competency. If their quantitative skills aren’t what you’d like to see, and they only take one course that helps them develop their quantitative skills, you may want to talk about addressing quantitative skills in some other courses.


Curriculum maps work only if they identify courses where students really work on a particular goal or competency: where they have homework, classwork, and other assignments to develop their learning, not just readings and lectures. I’d love to see a requirement that a course can be checked off on a map as helping students to achieve a particular learning outcome only if a certain proportion of course grades are based on their achievement of that outcome. In other words, a course counts as contributing toward a quantitative skills learning outcome only if at least, say, 5% of the final grade is based on students’ quantitative skills. Otherwise, students may not be getting the deep, rich learning opportunities they need to achieve the outcome well.

Categories: Curriculum & teaching