Glossary of Assessment Terminology
Accountability: set of initiatives others take to monitor the results of our actions, and to penalize or reward us based on the outcomes. (Frye)
Administrative outcomes: operational and specific statements derived from a unit’s core functions that describe the desired quality of key services within an administrative unit and define exactly what the services should promote. (Nichols)
Administrative unit operations: refers to the assessments based on objectives within administrative units that enhance areas of the university in support of student programs and services.
Administrative unit strategic goal: broad and generalized statement of action that assists in meeting the mission of the administrative unit and university. Often refers to a long-term time frame.
Administrative unit strategic objective: specific statement referring to a short-term time frame and that aligns to the goal.
Administrative unit strategic outcome: describes a change in students that results from a provided learning experience.
Alignment: process of assuring that learning outcomes, curriculum and instruction, and assessment all support and match each other. (The Higher Education Academy)
Anchors: samples of student work collected to provide examples that indicate different levels from a scoring rubric.
Assessment: systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development. (Marchese)
Assessment system: comprehensive and integrated set of assessment measures that provides information for use in monitoring student learning outcomes and managing and improving academic programs, student development, and administrative unit operations to promote continuous improvement, enhance institutional effectiveness, and ensure accountability.
Authentic assessments: real-world activities that professionals in the discipline may encounter. Assessment can be conducted at fieldwork sites in which students work with clients or address problems. (Allen)
Benchmarking: the process of comparing institutions’ information and assessment results with other institutions, often their peers. (Suskie)
Constructed-response: assessment method that requires students to construct a tangible product or perform a demonstration to show what they know and are able to do.
Course embedded assessments: assessments generated from assignments already in place in the classroom. (Palomba & Banta)
Course objectives: similar to goals but express the intended content to be covered in a course. They are used to describe specific behaviors that the student should exhibit. (Palomba & Banta)
Curriculum mapping: matrix used to indicate where student learning outcomes are covered in each course. Level of instructional emphasis or assessment of where the student learning outcome takes place may also be indicated.
Direct measures: assessment that requires students to demonstrate their achievement directly from their work. (Allen)
Evaluation: judging the value of evidence based on defined criteria. Behaviors related to evaluation include concluding, criticizing, prioritizing, and recommending. (Palomba & Banta)
Formative assessment: assessing student learning over time; provides valuable information about how well students are progressing towards an institution’s or program’s expectations. (Maki)
Indirect measures: assessments of student learning that are based on opinion, often the students. (Allen)
Institutional effectiveness: documented process of measuring how well an institution is achieving its mission and addressing its strategic plan for the purpose of continuous improvement of student learning, student development, and administrative unit operations.
Metric: what is being assessed.
Objective: planned or intended outcome.
Performance assessment: process of using student activities or products, as opposed to tests or surveys, to evaluate students’ knowledge, skills, and development. (Palomba & Banta)
Performance criteria: can be defined in terms of “learning outcomes statements” which describe, using action verbs, student learning or behavior rather than teacher behavior; and describe an intended outcome rather than subject matter coverage. (Palomba & Banta)
Program assessment: does not focus on an individual student. Rather, the emphasis is on what and how an educational program is contributing to the learning, growth and development of students as a group. (University of Central Florida)
Goals are broad statements that describe the long-term program targets or
Program goals: broad statements that describe the long-term program targets or directions of development. Stated in broad terms what the program wants to accomplish (in student learning outcomes) or desires to become over the next several years. (University of Central Florida)
Rubric: scoring tool that provides the specific expectations for an assignment. Rubrics divide an assignment into the critical elements to be examined and provide detailed descriptions of what constitutes acceptable or unacceptable levels of performance for each of those elements.
- Holistic: rubric that measures the overall quality of an artifact, performance, or portfolio. (Krajcik, Czerniak, & Berger)
- Analytic: rubric where criteria are broken down into critical elements, content/coverage, of a performance.
Selected-response: assessment method that requires students to select a response from a provided list or supply a brief answer. Examples: multiple choice, true/false, matching, or essay tests.
Standardized test: assessment where conditions of administration and scoring are constant. A well-designed standardized test will have a set of procedures for administration that can be implemented by all users. A standard set of introductory comments and directions are developed and used by all test takers. (Palomba & Banta)
Student development:refers to the assessments within our division of student affairs and other administrative units that promote out-of-class student learning, growth, and development outcomes through structured programs and services.
Student learning:refers to the measureable outcomes of what students should know and are able to do as a result of their course work and educational experiences at our institution.
Student learning outcomes: measurable statements of what students should know and be able to do as a result of their course work and educational experiences at an institution or in a program of study. (Maki)
Summative assessment: assessment of student learning at the end of a program or course of study; provides information about patterns of student achievement without institutional or programmatic opportunity to improve students’ achievement and without student opportunity to reflect on how to improve and demonstrate that improvement. (Maki)
Taxonomic schemes: a hierarchical structure of data arranged in a classification system.
Triangulation: collection of data from multiple measures in order to show consistency of results. (Allen)
Value-added assessment strategy: assessment perspective that gathers longitudinal data, both quantitative and qualitative information, with the intent of examining the impact of the university on student learning. (Suskie)
Allen, M. J. (2004). Assessing academic programs in higher education. Bolton, MA: Anker.
Frye, S. (1999). Assessment, accountability, and student learning outcomes. Retrieved May 20, 2008, for the Western Washington University Web Site: http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~dialogue/issue2.html
Krajcik, J., Czerniak, C., & Berger, C. (2003). Teaching children science: A project-based approach. Retrieved May 20, 2008, from the McGraw Hill: Online Learning Center Web Site:
Maki, P. (2004). Assessing for learning: Building a sustainable commitment across the institution. Sterling, VA: Sterling.
Marchese, T. J. (1987). Third down, ten years to go. AAHE Bulletin, 40, 3-8.
Nichols, J. (2005). The administrative unit assessment handbook: Measuring student support services and administrative objectives. Retrieved February 3, 2008 from the University of Central Florida Web Site: http://iaaweb.ucf.edu/oeas/adm_assess_handbook.pdf
Palomba, C. A., & Banta, T. W. (1999). Assessment essentials: Planning, implemented, and improving assessment in higher education. San Francisco. Jossey Bass.
Stevens, D.D. & Levi, A. J. (2005). Introduction to rubrics: An assessment tool to save grading time, convey effective feedback and promote student learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus.
Suskie, L. (2004). Assessing student learning: A common sense guide. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.
The Higher Education Academy (2008). Constructive alignment and why it is important to the learning process. Retrieved May 20, 2008, from The Higher Education Academy Web Site:
University of Central Florida (UCF). Program assessment handbook: Guidelines for planning and implementing quality enhancing efforts of program and student learning outcomes. Retrieved February 3, 2008 from University of Central Florida Web Site: http://iaaweb.ucf.edu/assessment/support/acad_assess_handbook.pdf