Al Akhawayn University (MOROCCO)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 5556-5565
ISBN: 978-84-616-0763-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 19-21 November, 2012
Location: Madrid, Spain
Assessment is the process of evaluating how well an effort has attained specific goals. Assessment of student achievement in courses unfortunately suffers too often from a separation between the specific goals or objectives for the course, and what is actually assessed. Sometimes, this comes from a lack of clarity of the goals themselves. More often, it comes from applying assessment approaches with which the instructor is comfortable, without explicitly verifying the validity of those approaches in assessing the objectives.

Our engineering school went through an exercise where explicit Intended Learning Outcomes were developed and agreed for all courses. In the course portfolio generated at the end of the course the instructor tries to evaluate the level of achievement of each objective. Without significant intentionality in advance, we have found it difficult to give a meaningful evaluation of this level of achievement. A convincing evaluation of achievement of objectives means identifying explicit assessment activities linked to each objective, and measuring each separately.

We continued to discuss this question and to try different assessment approaches to try to achieve more accurate assessment of objectives. We present the cases of two computer science courses. In the first, the different objectives were broken into A, B, and C grade levels (these are the three levels of passing grades in our system), and in each major assessment exercise (homework, exam, project) students could choose to which level they wish to work. Challenges discussed are the extra work, at least initially, for the instructor in defining clearly these different levels, and the difficulty of determining level when students results do not precisely correspond to the levels defined.

In the second course, a minimal level is set for each objective, and students must reach the minimal level of all objectives to pass the course. However, a variety of means of demonstrating achievement of each objective is provided, ranging from answering specific exam questions to answering questions face-to-face in the instructor’s office. After a student has achieved a passing grade, the challenge remains to determine a passing level based on level of achievement of the various objectives.

We present a preliminary evaluation of the usefulness of the approaches we implemented for evaluating achievement, issues encountered during the implementation, and potential ways of addressing those issues.
Assessment, outcomes.