Evidence-based teaching and learning requires assessment of desired student outcomes as a central component.
- Angelo and Cross note that assessment should be designed to give both students and instructors feedback:
- Students get feedback on their own learning which can provide opportunities to reflect up what they know and what they need to work on
- Instructors get feedback on how much the students are learning which can be help them reflect on what aspects of the instruction can be improved to help students learn better.
By this definition, assessments should be viewed as formative rather than summative, and, if used frequently throughout the course, they can greatly improve the knowledge students have about the course material, since they provide many opportunities for students to reflect on their learning consistent with course goals. In addition, frequent assessment can help the instructor get real time feedback on the effectiveness of instruction which can be used to refine and tweak instruction to address difficulties.
Developing and validating reliable assessment instruments is a long process involving investigation of student difficulties, designing questions which can reliably uncover these difficulties, interviewing faculty about the appropriateness of the questions, pilot testing with students (both individual interviews and large scale in-class testing), performing statistical analysis, question refinement (addition/change/removal) and re-testing. It takes years of development effort to create and validate reliable assessment instruments and in order to ensure that these assessment instruments do not lose their reliability (for example, by answers showing up in online forums) it is important that:
- Students are not given copies following administration of the assessment tool and
- Questions are not incorporated into web-based question delivery systems without adequate security to prevent printing or unauthorized access by students.