Assessment in Higher Education: Issues of Access, Quality, Student Development, and Public Policy

By Samuel J. Messick | Go to book overview

6
COMMENTARY
CHARACTERISTICS OF ASSESSMENT IN
SUPPORT OF STUDENT ACCESS AND
SUCCESS

Sister Joel Read

Alverno College

Chapters 3 and 4 have focused on assessment to improve instruction and assessing learning derived from students' experiences--each as a way to enhance student access and success in higher education. I should like to comment on them by way of indirection. I want to use selected characteristics of assessment to illustrate how assessment could enhance a student's, as well as many students', access and success in higher education.

I want to use these characteristics to illustrate what we, as educators, must at least consider in using assessment to enhance both access and success for students entering and working through higher education. I believe, if we are to enhance students' access and success, we need to go beyond improving instruction, which tends to leave the reigning paradigm in place, and/or assessing learning from students' experiences. Both are important but, as the philosophers say, not sufficient.

Almost 20 years ago, Alverno College and the Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) co-hosted a conference on "Issues in Outcome- Oriented Liberal Education." Warren Willingham was both a participant and a presenter. As a presenter on "Assessment: State of the Art," Warren's approach was based on some important characteristics of assessment that I will discuss shortly. Using various ETS tests which embodied one or several of these characteristics, Warren helped participants to understand each characteristic more fully through seeing that characteristic within a concrete exemplification, such as the Test of Scientific Thinking or an AP Studio Art Test.

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