Why should we want to be involved in assessment?
Think of some of the real questions you have about your curriculum and how well your students are doing, questions such as: How strong are our students' research skills? Can our students apply what they are learning outside of class? How motivated are our students to learn on their own? If our students can choose from a wide variety of electives, are they leaving our program with the same skills and knowledge, or does what they learn vary greatly from student to student? By the time are students are seniors, are they ready for their final courses or do some seem to have gaps in what they've learned? Do our introductory courses attempt to cover too much? Should we revise the sequence of our courses to enable students to learn more effectively? Our courses are now four credits instead of three-do our student learn more or in greater depth as a result? These questions - and others like them - reflect the real concerns that faculty have about the effectiveness of their curricula. Finding answers to such questions is one of the most important roles for assessment.
In addition to the most important reason for assessment, finding ways to help our students learn more effectively, assessment results can provide data for fund raising, for grant writing, for recruiting students, and for demonstrating the quality of our programs.