Statistical Approach to Outcomes Assessment
This paper offers an evaluation tool that is easy to use and provides manageable, quantitative feedback that can be used to help shape curricula, pedagogy and our assessment tools. The literature is replete with numerous ways of assessing students’ progress toward established goals (Data for program outcomes; Step by step guide; WVU chemical engineering). These include exams, quizzes, homework assignments, portfolios, laboratory notebooks, laboratory reports, student surveys, and faculty surveys to name a few. It is important to note that these methods of assessing outcomes must provide accurate, complete, and unbiased information if they are to be statistically sound. Equally important, the people involved in the evaluation process must be able to analyze the information in a manner that is operationally practical. Faculty workloads cannot be overly burdened by timely evaluation methods. Thus, our institutions must incorporate these analyses when determining workloads or these analyses must be less time intensive. Sometimes the goal that is being assessed necessitates a lengthy and intensive effort. “Processes that rely on qualitative information, such as journals portfolios, and focus group interviews, can provide meaningful insight onto difficult-to-measure outcomes such as ethical responsibility, and effective communication skills…..But collecting, reading and analyzing qualitative information is time intensive, especially when the effort is ongoing as required for continuous improvement” (Walcerz, 1999; paragraph 4) While these goals need to be addressed, this paper describes a method that can only be used to measure outcomes that can be articulated and assessed in a quantitative format.