Two Key Principles of Sustainable Assessment Practices



The sustained assessment of student learning is the most effective means of ensuring the delivery of an institution's mission. The hard work of assessment is only sustainable through collaborative institutional commitment and allocation of necessary resources. In Assessing for Learning: Building a Sustainable Commitment Across the Institution, Peggy Maki defines sustainable assessment practices as a collective commitment that develops over time and requires resources, structures, and processes that result in actionable data for all levels of the institution. Assessment communication plans must be clearly defined and institutional resources strategically leveraged to build a sustainable culture of assessment.

Forging Partnerships

The best cultures of assessment are both manageable and sustainable. When institutions undertake assessment as a collaborative process that deliberately involves diverse perspectives, various skills, and varying levels of expertise from across campus, the outcome is a set of dynamic, repeatable and adaptable systems. Stakeholder engagement is essential for sustainable assessment, and forging partnerships galvanizes stakeholder interest in assessment practices. Here are some key actions for promoting a culture of collaboration.

  • Employ multiple members in investigating the results of assessment

  • Facilitate frequent opportunities for individuals to examine data together and engage in collaborative exchange on improving the institution and student outcomes

  • Share information to promote dialogues about teaching and learning at the institution, program, and department levels

  • Provide times and venues for collective problem solving and information sharing

  • Break down silos by encouraging an integrative and interdisciplinary exchange of ideas

  • Create a well-defined communication plan to drive the sharing of data and collaboration


Investing Resources

Assessment requires an investment of various types of resources, including human, financial, physical and intellectual. Institutions that believe in the power of assessment for improving student outcomes invest the resources to ensure that assessment practices result in meaningful improvements.

  • Assessment should be a part of an institution's strategic plan, so that

  • Take inventory of and leverage existing resources for assessment

  • Invest resources with an emphasis on supporting inquiry and evidence-based action

  • Provide leadership for assessment

  • Structures

  • Practices

Institutional knowledge about student learning is sustained by deliberate collaboration and investment. The resulting data informs institutional decision-making and planning focused on improving student learning. Creating a more comprehensive and inclusive culture of assessment with access to necessary resources are essential components to delivering any institution’s mission.

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