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Language of Assessment

Assessment: The process of gathering information to make decisions.  In an education context, assessment is the process of observing learning: describing, collecting, recording, scoring, and interpreting information about a student’s or one’s own learning. 

Capstone:  A culminating educational experience that assesses the range of a student’s learning over perhaps the entirety of his or her involvement in a program or department. 

Criteria:  The particular standards that will be considered when a task is judged.  Criteria are often defined in a rubric or scoring guide.

Department Mission:  An educational unit’s general goals related to to student success.

Department Objectives:  Specific activities a department will engage in to reach its mission.

Performance-Based Assessment:  Systematic observation and rating of student performance of an educational objective.  Such assessment is often an ongoing observation over a period of time and typically requires the student to finish products.  The assessment should be a real-world performance generally assessed with a scoring guide or rubric.

Portfolio:  A collection of student work that tells the story of the student’s growth as a learner over a period of time such as a quarter or semester.  Portfolios may be assessed in a variety of ways.  Each piece might be individually scored, the portfolio might be assessed merely for the presence of required pieces, or the portfolio might be assessed holistically with an evaluation made on the basis of an overall impression of the student’s collected work.  It is common for assessors to work together to establish consensus about standards in order to insure greater uniformity of evaluation. 

Rubric:  An established set of criteria for scoring or rating student performance.

Student Learning Outcomes:  Descriptions (in action terms) of what a student should know or be able to do after completing an assignment, a unit, or even an entire course.


Last updated: December 08, 2010