It is more common by the day to hear the term assessment within the framework of higher education. However, many people don’t know what this means.
In this context, assessment is a systematic, structured, and reflective analysis process which collects, organizes, and interprets the information obtained from multiple sources in order to determine the effectiveness of teaching and learning processes and to support responsible decision-making. In short, conducting an assessment means carrying out a comprehensive and holistic evaluation of learning.
Within this process of overall evaluation, an assessment is a procedure of continuous analysis that includes all teaching and learning activities aimed at determining student achievement.
Seen in this light, one can conclude that the assessment process is essential to determining the extent to which students have acquired the knowledge and abilities associated with a certain competency or set of competencies.
Therefore, in the conception of the assessment in higher education, the focus must be on the learning outcomes associated with the competencies that our students must develop, not on the teaching of certain content by the teacher, but rather on the achievement of a certain level of performance in competencies: i.e., on what the student is able to understand and know after successfully completing the learning process.
Only universities ahead of the curve with regard to academic excellence and continuous improvement of their degrees have implemented an Institutional Learning Assessment Plan in order to ensure comprehensive competency development for their students, thereby making them more employable.
This plan was created in order to consolidate and support a culture of assessment and continuous improvement of learning at this university. Its essence lies in reshaping the activities, instruments, and assessment criteria that we have traditionally used to assess our students, in such a way that allows us to be able to establish the degree to which they have achieved the results or learning outcomes and to keep a record of it. Therefore, this is not about introducing new assessment activities or instruments, but rather about testing them, reaching an agreement with the other professors, and keeping a record of what we do and why.
Objective assessment of learning outcome achievement by our students is the center that connects our entire assessment process, as it helps professors to make well-founded decisions with regard to their educational activities, while facilitating the identification of strengths and weaknesses of the students’ knowledge and abilities, and therefore, providing better information about their command of a certain competency or set of competencies.
The cornerstone supporting this entire Assessment Plan are our professors, who become the ultimate guarantors of the learning outcomes achieved by our students.