What is "primary trait analysis"?
Primary trait analysis is a way for faculty to specify the exact criteria against
which they will judge student work. Using it, faculty create a scale for grading or
scoring student work. To create this scale, they must (1) identify the exact characteristics
that they will be looking for; (2) construct a scale; and (3) evaluate the student's
work against the scale. The scale can be changed for each type of assignment or task
that the student is asked to complete. Most important for the students' benefit, when
they know the traits that their work will be judged against, they can more knowledgeably
address the assignment. For purposes of program assessment, faculty can construct
primary trait scales for each of the types of student work that they will be evaluating,
whether the evidence for the assessment is provided by the student portfolios, essays,
science projects, mathematical solutions, case study analyses, or whatever. A major
benefit of primary trait analysis to the assessment process is that it is a tool for
faculty to use when working to reach consensus on what is worth evaluating in student
work. For a discussion of primary trait analysis as used in one discipline, go here.