Improve Student Outcomes By Delivering Data
Too many institutions of higher learning aren’t equipping their students to meet the specific learning outcomes for which they are responsible. Students receive grades on tests, but they don’t receive any detailed information on areas where they struggled or succeeded. That makes it much more difficult for them to meet learning outcomes, like critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, and writing skills. In turn, when students fail to meet these outcomes, the administration begins to question instructors, curricula, and the type of students they are admitting.
The solution can be found through actionable data. School administrations should provide students an assessment report, giving them more specific information about and better control over their academic performance.
Giving Students A Voice
Typically, it’s the faculty member who gets to choose whether a student receives data on their performance and the kind of data that will be available. But students don’t often see assessment data, they just see grades, so they’re not aware of their specific areas of difficulty. It’s critical that students be allowed more involvement in their own academic success and given the supporting data to do so. School administrative staff should start by reaching out to students to receive feedback on what improving their learning experience should look like. Establishing a partnership between administration, faculty, and students will build relationships that support academic learning and creates a space for transparency.
Knowledge Vs. Requirements
There can be a conflict in higher education on whether we should be measuring skills or measuring demonstration of knowledge. During the grading process, instructors struggle to grade students based on their actual mastery or on whether they followed instructions and fulfilled requirements. For example, during a writing assessment, a student does not include APA citations and fails that part of the exam. Does not including APA citations make that student an insufficient writer? Not necessarily. The exam instructions may not have been clear that APA citations were required. Assessments should include specific and transparent instructions so students have the best chance at passing the assessment. Transparency will continue to enhance student performance within assessments and put students’ needs at the forefront of testing.
The Transparency Solution
Some administration and faculty have shown resistance to transparency because it can be viewed as spoon-feeding. Their argument is that by providing too much insight—informing students on exactly how to take a test and what is required—we are essentially giving students the answers. If all the students have the answers, they are not learning anything, and everyone will receive an A. But transparency is not about spoon-feeding students information but about taking things that are often implicit and making them explicit. Implying assessment requirements only hinders
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