Most doctoral programs don’t prepare you for the way your department at a teaching-intensive institution will be wrestling with things like assessment. This Inside Higher Ed piece can get you started sorting out the difference between giving your students grades and really determining whether they have learned what you wanted them to learn. Departments as well as individual faculty members have to work out what the right goals are for their students. You’ll find yourself in department meetings discussing such topics as: Do we all agree on what a major in our program should have acquired by graduation? Is it a body of knowledge, or is it a set of skills? Is it both? How should our graduates be able to demonstrate what they know and what they can do?
If your graduate program has prepared you at all for teaching, it will probably have prepared you to construct a course syllabus and run a lab or a discussion section. But work at a teaching-intensive institution involves a whole lot more than that.
In future posts, we’ll try to lay out some of the issues with which you’ll want to acquaint yourself. Assessment is a good one, and we will try to give you some good resources to get you started. If you have some ideas about resources on assessment, please post them here, and we will make them available.
As higher education moves toward a more outcome-driven approach that emphasizes mastery rather than seat time, assessment become more and more intrinsic to teaching and learning. The challenge is to embed assessments in every stage of the learning process in ways that empower students and their instructors.