Assessment Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult

Assessment Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult

by Erin Clifford

Somewhere, somebody started a rumour that assessment needed to be difficult and that to do assessment properly you needed to be an expert.

At ACPA in 2015, I attended a great session presented by Amanda R Knerr from Indiana State University, “Beyond the Checkbox: Simple Techniques for Comprehensive Information”.  What she said resonated with me.  Amanda said, “the assessment of a program should be like a photo album of snap shots from the journey.”  When you look at assessment with this perspective, how hard is it to take a couple pictures of what is going on and put them in an album?

Since Amanda’s session index cards have become my best friend.  For me, they are the easiest way for me to collect snap shots of the journey.  At the beginning, middle and end of the program, I can ask the students to jot down in one sentence what ideas have resonated with them on the topic of “insert your program topic here”.  Then when I get back to the office, I can sort my index cards by themes.

How were the learning outcomes reflected in the themes?  What activities seemed to make the biggest impact?  What activity made the least impact?  Are there any trends that I can see in the themes? Once I answer those questions based on the information on the cards, I can determine what I might do differently or what should stay exactly the same.

There are a plethora of questions to ask and just as many things the themes can tell you.  This type of assessment can be easy, low tech, helpful and from my perspective best of all – 100% participation and no survey fatigue.


Erin Clifford works in the Office of Student Life as Student Life Coordinator (Mentorship Programs) and is a member of the LOAC.

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