WikiEdProfessional eLearning Guidebook/Assessment, feedback, and e-moderation/Assessing Learning Outcomes
Assessing Learning Outcomes
Assessing learning outcomes is concerned with determining whether or not learners have acquired the desired type or level of capability, and whether they have benefited from the educational experience (i.e., have they learned, and how their performance has changed). A measure of learning outcomes requires learners to complete tasks, which demonstrate that they have achieved the standards specified in the learning outcomes. In order to ascertain the most realistic and valid assessment of performance, these task(s) have to be as similar to on-the-job conditions, that is,as authentic as possible.
A major purpose of assessment in education is the improvement of learning. When focusing on the improvement of learning, it is essential to bear in mind the congruency between the learning outcomes of a course and the measures of learning achievement. It is not uncommon to find measures of learning achievement that do not address the learning outcomes of the course. When this is the case, learner motivation in the course and their performance is adversely affected.
Learning outcomes of a course must be given careful thought as quite often, insufficient attention is paid to the learning outcomes of a course. Without a clear set of outcomes, it is difficult to determine criteria for ascertaining whether we have arrived at the place for which we set out. While some skills and competencies are easier to assess, there are many others that are more difficult to assess and grade. Therefore a range of measures of achievement is necessary to assess the wide variety of skills and competencies that need to be acquired. In all cases however, the only fair form of assessment is one that is very transparent, with explicitly stated criteria for students. Therefore, it is important to clearly specify and communicate the basis for all assessment measures. When this is the case, assessment can serve as a powerful teaching tool.