ASSESSMENT OF STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES: INDICATORS OF STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
Gulf University for Science and Technology (KUWAIT)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Almost a decade ago, research (see, e.g., Carey & Gregory, 2003) on learning-related outcomes in higher education revealed low use of a “systematic outcomes assessment” in efforts to improve student learning outcomes. Recently, higher education institutions have begun to focus on the assessment of learning outcomes to identify strengths and weaknesses in student learning. Assessment of these outcomes is one technique for identifying student achievement in a course of study (James, 2005).
Assessment is typically viewed as a diagnosis tool to use in measuring students’ achievement of learning-related goals and objectives and in evaluating student performance in education. Assessment, as defined by Wright (2003), is a process that includes setting student learning and development goals, gathering evidence on whether students are meeting those goals, interpreting data to define students’ strengths and weaknesses, and using evidence data to develop methods for improving student learning and performance. Student learning outcomes are, in fact, “contemporary indicators of quality in the field of education” (Al-Shammari, 2011, in press).
This research had two purposes: (1) to examine the feasibility of using assessment in examining student learning outcomes in order to identify learning-related strengths and weaknesses; and (2) to provide, after a report of research findings, recommendations for improving student learning outcomes in higher education institutions as well as in K–12 schools.
IMPORTANCE OF ASSESSING STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES
Higher education institutions have acknowledged the importance of assessing student learning outcomes. The results of these assessments can be used in developing methods for ensuring positive learning outcomes. Research (see, e.g., Al-Shammari, 2010; Rieg & Wilson, 2009) has shown that assessment of student learning outcomes can provide valuable information to analyses of learning outcomes in any course of study. Importantly, assessment offers clear and useful information on student learning outcomes that may be used as indicators of students’ learning-related strengths and weaknesses.
Indicators included, assessed, analyzed, and finalized using the Analysis Model for Learning Outcomes (AMLO). The AMLO tool is used by teachers and administrators in K–12 and higher education institutions to analyze learning outcomes—the percentages of learning objective achievement in a course of study. Learning outcomes are valuable indicators of student success or failure during the learning process/experience. These indicators reveal the strengths and weaknesses of student learning outcomes.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Indicators were used in this study to demonstrate how the assessment of learning outcomes enhances the quality of those outcomes, as revealed via analysis of assessment results using AMLO.
Recommendations focus on all K–higher education personnel interested in the assessment of student learning outcomes. First, instructors should use AMLO to systematically analyze extracted student learning outcomes. Second, once student learning outcomes have been identified, instructors and/or administrators can easily use this information to determine indicators of strengths and weaknesses. Third, these indicators can be helpful when implementing necessary modifications into curricular, teaching and learning efforts to ensure better student learning outcomes in the future.
Keywords: Assessment, Student Learning Outcomes, Indicators