Skip to Main Content

Assessment 101: Get Started

Assessment 101

student in ceramicsImproving student learning is facilitated by assessment in the classroom. Assessment is a process of continuous improvement and reflection, collaboration with our fellow faculty members, and supported by our administrators. So that we can clearly communicate with each other about our efforts to improve student learning, this page re-introduces common assessment concepts: direct and indirect assessment, formative and summative assessment, use of rubrics, and assessment vocabulary used by the College.

Assessment is a priority at CCAC and is conducted at multiple levels. From classroom to program to general education to strategic initiatives, we are constantly trying to improve the student experience. As Linda Suskie articulates, assessment is a multi-faceted process that:

  • Establishes clear, observable expected goals for student learning
  • Ensures that students have sufficient opportunities to achieve those goals
  • Systematically gathers, analyzes, and interprets evidence of how well student learning meets those goals
  • Uses the resulting information to understand and improve student learning

Suskie, Linda. Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide, 3rd Edition, 2018

3 major domains of assessment

student working at computer

Cognitive Skills

What do our students know?

massage therapy students

Performance Skills

What can our students do?

student smiling

Affective Skills

What do our students think?

What is the difference between assessment and grading?

"Assessment and grading are not the same.

CMU Eberly CenterGenerally, the goal of grading is to evaluate individual students’ learning and performance. Although grades are sometimes treated as a proxy for student learning, they are not always a reliable measure. Moreover, they may incorporate criteria – such as attendance, participation, and effort – that are not direct measures of learning.

The goal of assessment is to improve student learning. Although grading can play a role in assessment, assessment also involves many ungraded measures of student learning (such as concept maps and CATS). Moreover, assessment goes beyond grading by systematically examining patterns of student learning across courses and programs and using this information to improve educational practices."

From CMU's Eberly Center.

9 principles of assessment
1. The assessment of student learning begins with educational values.
2. Assessment is most effective when it reflects an understanding of learning as multidimensional, integrated, and revealed in performance over time.
3. Assessment works best when the programs it seeks to improve have clear, explicitly stated purposes.
4. Assessment requires attention to outcomes but also and equally to the experiences that lead to those outcomes.
5. Assessment works best when it is ongoing, not episodic.
6. Assessment fosters wider improvement when representatives from across the educational community are involved.
7. Assessment makes a difference when it begins with issues of use and illuminates questions that people really care about.
8. Assessment is more likely to lead to improvement when it is part of a larger set of conditions that promote change.
9. Through assessment, educators meet responsibilities to students and to the public.

Nine Principles of Assessment was developed by a task force from the American Association for Higher Education (Alexander W. Astin; Trudy W. Banta; K. Patricia Cross; Elain El-Khawas; Peter T. Ewell; Pat Hutchings; Theodore J. Marchese, Kay M. McClenney; Marcia Mentkowski, Margaret A. Miller; E. Thomas Moran; and Barbara D. Wright).

Have a question? Email: