A key step in the assessment cycle is gathering and analyzing evidence. Employing the appropriate data collection techniques for assessment is an important step in this process. Faculty and staff are encouraged to customize assessment practices to meet their needs. Data collection techniques should be designed to gather effective evidence to answer assessment questions. The most compelling use of evidence often draws from multiple sources of data.
While evidence comes in many forms, it can be divided into two broad categories when considering the specific case of measuring learning outcomes:
- Direct Evidence of Student Learning: Direct measures require students to demonstrate their learning. Examples of direct measures include portfolios, capstone projects, essays, standardized instruments (including licensure exams), oral exams, quizzes/tests and class assignments.
- Indirect Evidence of Student Learning: Indirect measures ask students about their own attitudes and perceptions of their learning. Examples of indirect measures include focus groups, alumni surveys, self-reported survey items of perceived learning and exit interviews.
Direct and indirect evidence of student learning are both valuable. Whenever possible, direct measures of learning are preferable. These forms of evidence are more compelling and less vulnerable to criticism.