Assessment Resources for Community College Faculty
Take a look at this video that defines assessment, used properly, as an essential instructional tool:

With the increased focus on higher education accountability, effective student and faculty assessment is particularly relevant. Reliable data regarding measured learning outcomes is essential to determining institutional success (Cohen, Brawher, & Kisker, 2013). This is a significant challenge for community colleges considering their diversity in mission and within its student body. The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) has compiled an extensive list of resources that can be used as a valuable reference for faculty members regarding assessment. Please take a moment to peruse these resources in an effort to identify historical issues, current trends, and emerging initiatives:

Curriculum Assessment

Assessment is critical in estimating student success in the classroom. Assessment includes testing, both formal and informal, portfolio assessment, and in some instances, observation. Curriculum assessment serves multiple purposes, among them establishing a student's baseline, determining placement, monitoring learning, and motivating students (Cohen, Brawer, & Kisker, 2013).

The most common form of student assessment is testing, either multiple choice or essay questions (Ediger, 2002). When creating a test for a course, it is important to make sure it tests students on the content that has been taught. Ediger (2002) offers different guidelines for writing multiple choice and essay tests.

Multiple choice assessments usually emphasize factual knowledge and should:
1. Be relevant - covering concepts and generalizations stressed in the class, not trivia facts.
2. Be written clearly.
3. Be reliable - the test should be consistent using test/retest, alternative forms, or split half reliability.
4. Have realistic responses - avoiding unrealistic answer choices.
5. Avoid a pattern of correct responses.
6. Answer choices should be similar in length, avoiding one long or one short answer choice.

Essay assessments generally emphasize higher level knowledge (synthesizing or analyzing information) and skills levels. They should:

1. Focus on "vital subject matter" (p. 409)
2. Challenge students to think critically and/or creatively about the subject.
3. Incorporate background knowledge and apply it to what the students have learned.
4. Be clearly written.
5. Be based on what students can do, not asking too much or too little of students.

Other Types of Assessment
Another form of assessment is a published test or survey, which is published by a particular institution or organization; one reason that these are particularly beneficial because they allow institutions to compare the results of their students to those at other schools (Suskie, 2009). A published survey that may be of particular interest to administrators at community colleges is the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, which was developed by the University of Texas at Austin. This survey is an assessment tool that "provides information on student engagement [how engaged students are with faculty, staff and other students and with the material they are learning], a key indicator of learning and, therefore, of the quality of community colleges" ("About the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE)," para. 4). You may view a sample of the survey here.

Additional resources:

An assessment framework for the community college. (2004). Retrieved from

Astin, A. W. & Antonio, A. L. (2012). Assessment for excellence: The philosophy and practice of assessment and evaluation in higher education (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Keeling, R. P., Wall, A. F., Underhile, R., & Dungy, G. J. (2008). Assessment reconsidered: Institutional effectiveness for student success. Washington, DC: International Center for Student Success and Institutional Accountability.

The National Academy for Academic Leadership. (n.d.) Assessment and evaluation in higher education: Some concepts and principles. Retrieved from


Center for Community College Student Engagement. (2015). About the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE). Retrieved from

Cohen, A. M., Brawer, F.B., & Kisker, C.B. (2013). The American community college (6th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Ediger, M. (2002). Designing the community college curriculum. College Student Journal, 36(3), 403-409.

Suskie, L. (2009). Assessing student learning: A common sense guide (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.