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Journal of Education for Business
ISSN: 0883-2323 (Print) 1940-3356 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/vjeb20
Assessment of Student Learning: A Fast-Track
Bonnie Stivers & Jeffrey Phillips
To cite this article: Bonnie Stivers & Jeffrey Phillips (2009) Assessment of Student Learning:
A Fast-Track Experience, Journal of Education for Business, 84:5, 258-262, DOI: 10.3200/ JOEB.84.5.258-262
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.3200/JOEB.84.5.258-262
Published online: 07 Aug 2010.
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he Association to Advance Col-legiate Schools of Business (AACSB)Internationalandotherprofes-sionalaccreditationagenciesareplacing ahighpriorityonassessment.Themes- sagefromtheAACSBisclear:“Ourout-putisnotteaching;itis,infact,student learning” (2005, ¶ 2). The agency sug-geststhatschoolsshifttheirfocusfrom whatfacultyteachtowhatstudentslearn. Schoolscanmakethisshiftbyusingan assessmentprocesstogatherdataonstu-dentlearningandthenusethesedatato improvecurricularprograms.
In the present article, we describe howthefacultymembersatoneschool ofbusinessdevelopedanassessmentof student learning framework during the summer of 2005 and implemented the plan during the 2005–2006 and 2006– 2007 academic years. This framework was necessary to bring the school into compliance with the new assessment standardsandtomaintainaccreditation with AACSB. In the first part of the present article, we provide a brief lit-erature review. In the second part, we presenttheorganizationalstructureand themodelframeworkofgeneralgoals, specificoutcomes,andcoursemappings thatweredevelopedforeachofthesix degreeprogramsinoneschoolofbusi-ness. In the third part of the present article,wedescribethelessonslearned during the school’s initial experience withassessmentofstudentlearning.
The AACSB has adopted Palomba andBanta’s(1999)definitionofassess- ment:“Assessmentisthesystematiccol-lection, review, and use of information abouteducationalprogramsundertaken for the purpose of improving student learninganddevelopment”(p.4).
Theschoolofbusinessfacultymem-bers involved in the development of the assessment framework reviewed the AACSB’s expectations regarding assessmentofstudentlearningandother relevantassessmentliterature.
The AACSB (2000) adopted “Eli-gibility Procedures and Standards for BusinessAccreditation,”and1ofthe21 standards—“TheAssuranceofLearning Standards”(Standards15–21)—acknowl-edgesassessmentofstudentlearningasa partofthecurriculummanagementpro-cess. The AACSB standards called for schoolstodefinelearninggoalslinkedto theirmission,assessstudentachievement forthesegoalsforeachprogram,anduse the assessment information to continu-allyimprovetheircurriculumprograms. Schools accredited by the AACSB were expected to begin planning for assessment in the 2003–2004 academic year.TheAACSB(2005)askedschools tofollowaspecifictransitionperiod.In
ABSTRACT. Theprofessionalaccredi-tationagenciesaremakingdemandsfor assessmentofstudentlearning.These demandsarenotexpectedtolessenin thenearfuture.Theaccreditationagen-ciesaresuggestingthateducatorsshould shifttheirfocusfromwhatfacultyteach towhatstudentslearn.Theauthorsshow thedevelopmentandimplementationofan assessmentofastudent-learningframework atoneschool.Thisimplementationwas necessarytobringtheschoolintocompli-ancewithnewassessmentstandardsandto maintainaccreditationwiththeAssociation toAdvanceCollegiateSchoolsofBusiness International.
Keywords:assessment,Associationto AdvanceCollegiateSchoolsofBusiness Internationalaccreditation,assuranceof learning,studentlearning
2003–2004—thefirst2yearsofthestan-dards—schoolswereexpectedtodefine learning goals, translate goals into spe-cificobjectives,andaligntheircurricula tomeetthegoals.By2005,schoolswere expected to have developed measure-mentsforeachspecificgoaltohaveand begun collecting performance data on atleastsomeofthemeasures.By2007, schools should have had a complete assurance of learning process in place, including feedback of the assessment dataintothecurriculum-reviewprocess.
Thetransitionperiodallowedbythe AACSBisnowover.Startingin2007, schools must meet the assurance-of-learning standards for accreditation. The standards call for assessment of student learning for each degree pro-gram in the business school. Learning goalsmustbestated,andstudentlearn-ing must be evaluated through direct measures.Thefinalstepisclosingthe loop and using the assessment data to improvethecurriculum.
InadditiontoreviewingtheAACSB’s expectations regarding assessment, the faculty team at our sample school of businessidentifiedthefollowingsourc-esintheassessmentliteratureandfound themtobeparticularlyusefulindevel-opingtheassessmentframework:
1.Characteristics of effective assess-ment(Banta,2002);
4.Articulating goals and learn-ing objectives (AACSB International, 2000;Bloom,1956;Erwin,1991;C.A. Palomba&Banta,1999,2001);
5.Selecting measurement methods andapproaches(Banta,Lund,Black,& Oblander, 1996; Huba & Freed, 2000; C. A. Palomba & Banta, 1999, 2001; Walvrood,2004);
7.Reporting and using assessment results(Ewell,1994;C.A.Palomba& Banta,1999,2001);
8.Assessing assessment (Romberg, 1990).
The assurance of learning standards adoptedbytheAACSBcallforaccredited schools of business to assess student learningandusethefindingstoimprove their curriculum programs. During the springof2005,AACSBsentoursample schoolofbusinessanoticeregardingthe statusoftheschool’saccreditation.There wasreasonforconcern.Bytheendofthe first 2 years of theAACSB’s transition period (2003–2004), the school of business’sfacultyhadnotyetdeveloped an assessment framework. The faculty had to take immediate action to bring the school of business into compliance withtheAACSB’sassurance-of-learning standardsandtoretainaccreditation.The task involved putting 2 years of work intoseveralmonths.
Weofferadescriptionoftheschool’s efforts to organize for assessment and present the following topics: overview, guidelines, organization, goals frame-work,andmethods.
A representative body of faculty members in the school of business maintained the overall framework for theassessmentofstudentlearning.This group served in an oversight capacity. In following curriculum management, the faculty members of each disci-pline or degree program in the school of business were expected to have an assessmentplantocollectevidenceof studentlearningforeachprogramthat offeredabachelor’sormaster’sdegree. Each academic discipline and degree program submitted a separate report andthefindingswereusedtodevelop, review,orreviseeachprogramcurricu- lum.Theassessmentframeworkestab-lished the expectation that each core course in each degree program would passundertheviewoftheassessment of the student-learning process over a 3-yearperiod.
1.The purpose of assessment is to improveeducationalprograms.According to the AACSB’s (2000) “Curriculum ContentandEvaluationStandard,”business schoolsshouldsystematicallyreviewtheir degree programs to assess effectiveness. Program revisions should “reflect new objectives and incorporate improvements basedoncontemporarytheoryandpractice” (AACSBInternational,2000,p.20).
2.Assessmentofstudentlearningand developmentisacollaborativeprocess involving faculty, staff, and students (C.A.Palomba&Banta,1999).
3.Assessment is guided by the institution’smission(C.A.Palomba& Banta,1999).
4.Successful assessment programs include the following: (a) identify-ing assessment procedures to address all learning goals; (b) using efficient procedures such as sampling student work and drawing on university-wide data where appropriate; (c) includ-ing multiple measures; (d) describinclud-ing the people, committees, and processes involved; and (e) containing plans for using assessment information. (N. A. Palomba&C.A.Palomba,1999).
5.Thefacultymembersforeachaca-demic degree program are responsible for the (a) identification of goals and learning objectives, (b) selection of measures, (c) use of assessment feed-backtomodifytheacademicprograms, and(d)reportonassuranceoflearning activities.
6.Assurance of learning should not be used to make comparisons among faculty members, departments, pro-grams,orotherunitsintheuniversity.
7.Assurance of learning should not be used for faculty or staff evaluation (C.A.Palomba&Banta,1999).
9.The assessment process is evalu-ated(C.A.Palomba&Banta,1999).
The organizational structure for assessment in the school of business included several levels: the curriculum and assessment (CA) committee at the school level, a CA committee for each
discipline or program, and an assess-plines. Nonvoting members included thedirectorofgraduatebusinesspro-grams, the director of undergradu-ate business services, the assessment coordinatorfortheschoolofbusiness, andarepresentativefromthebusiness community. Each elected member of the CA committee was to serve for a minimum of 2 consecutive academic years. These members were elected by popular vote by full-time faculty membersintheirrespectiveacademic units.ThechairpersonoftheCAcom-mittee was elected annually (at the startoftheacademicyear)bypopular vote by the voting members of the CAcommittee.
For the fall semester of 2005, the following specific assessment respon-sibilitieswereassignedtotheschoolof businessCAcommittee:
1.Adopt guidelines for the assess-mentprocess.
3.Establish the discipline or pro-gramCAcommittees.
4.Plan assessment activities for the schoolofbusiness.
5.Adopt general student-learning goalsandlearningoutcomes.
6.Adopt discipline specific student-learning goals and student-learning outcomes usingfeedbackfromthedisciplineCA committees.
7.Adopt the mapping of student-learninggoalsandlearningoutcomesto program requirements for each degree program.
8.Prepare a master timeline for implementation of the assessment pro-cessforallcorecoursesintheschoolof business.
9.Provideoversighttothediscipline orprogramCAcommitteesforthecol-lection of data, analysis, and reporting ofassessmentfindings.
10.Review discipline or program assessmentreports.
11.Report overall school of business
assessment results to the faculty and administrators.
12.Recommend curriculum chang-es to the degree programs and to the assessment process of the school of businessfacultyandadministrators.
13.Arrange for archiving assessment degree plans, data, reports, curricular revisions,andsamplesofstudentwork. Archival data are to be retained for 6years.
Eachacademicdisciplineorprogram was to establish a CA committee. The discipline or program representative to theschoolCAcommitteewastoserve as the chair of the discipline or pro-gram CA committee.The discipline or programCAcommitteesweretodothe following:
1.Establish the core course-assess-mentteams.
2.Reviewandrevisethegeneraland discipline-specific learning goals and outcomes.
3.Map learning goals and outcomes toprogramrequirements.
5.Collect, analyze, and interpret assessmentfindings.
6.Report assessment findings to the school CA committee and make cur-riculumrecommendations.
7.Implement approved curriculum changestothedegreeprograms.
Also at the discipline or program level,anassessmentteamwasassigned to each core course. Each core course teamconsistedofatleasttwomembers: onememberofthedisciplineorprogram CAcommitteeandonefacultymember withprimaryteachingresponsibilityof thecourse.Theteamshadtheresponsi-bility to target core courses for assess-ment, identify measurement methods, andtocollectassessmentdata.
Each faculty member in the school ofbusinesswasexpectedtobeinvolved in the assessment of student learning. Every faculty member was to complete thecurriculumrevieworaudittodevelop the curriculum maps. In addition, each memberwastoreviseeachcoursesylla-a framework of general goals, specific outcomes,andmappingforeachofthe sixdegreeprograms:bachelorofartsin business administration (BBA), bach-elor and master of arts in accounting, bachelorandmasterofarts,andadual degreeinaccounting,MBA,andMBA forworkingprofessionals.
General learning goals are broad in natureandthereforedifficulttomeasure. Thesegoalsdescribethedesiredcharac-teristicsofthebusinessschoolgraduates. Keeping the mission statements of the universityandtheschoolofbusinessin mind,thefacultyteamidentifiedacom- monsetoflearninggoalsfortheunder-graduatedegreeprogramsandaslightly different set of goals for the graduate degreeprograms.Theteamselectedthe followinggenerallearninggoalsforthe undergraduatedegreeprograms:
1.Communication: Business majors should be literate and capable of com-municatingwellinorallyandinwritten documents.
2.Critical thinking: Business majors should think critically, abstractly, and logicallytoevaluateandsolvebusiness problems.
3.Ethics: Business majors should possess ethical values and be able to evaluatetheethicalandsocialimpactof businessdecisions.
5.Perspectives: Business majors should understand and consider the effectsofforcesexternaltotheorgani-zationinbusinessdecisionmaking.
6.Technology: Business majors shouldidentify,evaluate,anduseinfor-mationtechnologytoenhancepersonal andorganizationalproductivity.
Inadditiontoidentifyingthesegeneral learning goals for the degree programs, theteamidentifiedgenerallearninggoals for each of the following disciplines: accounting,decisionscience,economics, finance,management,andmarketing.
Specific learning outcomes stem directlyfromthegenerallearninggoals and are the targets of assessment. The specificlearningoutcomesdescribepar-ticular actions that the graduates per-formandarebestexpressedwiththeuse in the BBA, the team identified three specificlearningoutcomes:
1.Present,discuss,anddefendviews effectively through written and spoken language.
3.Locate, obtain, organize, report, anduseinformationfromhuman,print, andelectronicsources.
Faculty members performed a cur-riculumaudittoprovidedocumentation toidentifywhereinthecurriculumthe learning goals and specific outcomes were being addressed, or a curriculum map. For this exercise, faculty com-pletedaformforeachcorecoursethat they taught and identified the specific learningoutcomesthatareaddressedby a major test, project, or paper in their course. The collective responses were used to develop a visual “curriculum map” for each degree program. This is an excellent starting point for the understandingoftheassessmentprocess (Gainen&Locatelli,1995,p.116).
For each specific learning outcome, theassessmentteamselectedtwotofive core courses and their related course activitiesastargetsforassessmentmea-surement. Using the general learning goalofcommunicationasanexamplein theBBAprogram,onespecificlearning outcome was to locate, obtain, orga-nize, report, and use information from human, print, and electronic sources. Two courses that were candidates for measurementintheassessmentprocess and their specific activities were (a) productionandoperationsmanagement, in which students worked in groups to plan, research, report, and present an
investigationofoperationsmanagement as it applies to small business in the economy, and (b) business policy, in whichstudentsworkedingroupsdoing research, analysis, and presentations focusedonbusinesspolicy.
Therewereanumberofplanningques-tionsthatneededtobeaddressedwhen deciding on methods and approaches to collect assessment data. The faculty team decided on the following items regarding the overall approach to data collection:(a)levelsfordatacollection, in which the faculty in the school of businesscollectedassessmentdataatthe university,program,andcourselevel;(b) researchstrategies,inwhichthestrategy was to track and compare successive cohortsofstudents;(c)identificationof eligible participants, in which degree-seeking students, students in a major, andgraduatingseniorswererequiredto participate in assessment projects; and (d)sampling,inwhichfacultyassessed onlyasampleofstudentsinaneffortto keepcostsofassessmentundercontrol. Focusingoncorecourses,arepresenta-tive sample of course sections was tar-getedforassessment.
In making decisions regarding the selectionofdatacollectionmethods,the faculty focused on three areas of direct measures: tracking performance on pro-fessionallicensingexams,commercially availablestandardizedtesting,andcourse-embedded testing with common exams andcapstonecourseprojectactivities.
In the 2005–2006 academic year, the school of business had developed a promising assessment framework. The school was reaccredited under the AACSB and the immediate crisis was over. The initial assessment of student learning effort was successful for sev-eral reasons. First, there was success because of the dean’s lead.The dean’s office spearheaded the effort to devel-op an assessment framework. Second, there was success because of funding. The dean devoted the funds to hire a consultant to develop the initial assur-anceoflearningframework.Last,there
was success because of structure. The schoolestablishedtheCAcommitteeat the school level to assume assessment responsibilities.
As the school of business moved intothe2006–2007academicyear,the administratorsandfacultydidnotmain-tain the strong focus on assessment of student learning as they had in 2005– 2006 academic year. A review of the school’s experience for the 2006–2007 academic year brought to light several issuesthatneededattention.
All faculty members should be involvedintheassuranceoflearningpro-cess. Active involvement gives faculty membersownershipoftheassuranceof the learning process and provides the experience necessary to use the assess-ment data to close the loop in mak-ingcurriculumimprovements.Itmaybe temptingtouseasmallgroupoffaculty members to expedite the assurance-of-learning process. However, this limited facultyinvolvementmaydefeatthebroad purposeofassuranceoflearning.
The department and discipline com-mitteesandteamsneedtobeorganized and held responsible for assessment activities. Our sample school of busi-ness established the CA committee to assume assessment responsibilities. Anassuranceoflearningstructurethat includes the school, department, and disciplinelevelsdrawsonthesupportof abroadergroupoffacultymembers.
Allfacultymembersintheschoolof business need to be involved in updat-ingtheframeworkoflearninggoalsand outcomes. This framework is the basis of the curriculum and the focus of the assessment. The process of coming to an agreement on these learning goals and outcomes is a unifying experience forfacultymembers.
The school of business should allo-cateadequatefundsfortheassessment
activities. These funds can be used to provide faculty-release time, provide for assessment training, develop data collection methodologies, and fund externaltesting.
The assurance of learning standards oftheAACSBrequiretheuseofdirect measures of student learning. The use of indirect measures may be used to supplement the data collected with direct measures. One example of the use of an indirect measure is to ask studentsabouttheirperceptionsoftheir learning.Anotherexampleistocollect employer feedback on graduates’ job performance.
Facultymembersmustuseassessment data to close the loop. The administra-tors and faculty members must be able to demonstrate how the assessment data have been used to make changes in the curricula, teaching materials, and teach-ingmethods.Thepurposeofassessment istomanagethecurricularprograms.
Theassessmentprocessshouldbeeval-uatedatleastonceperyear.Evaluatingthe assessmentprocessandmakingappropri-ate changes in the system provides an aspectofcontinuousimprovement.
The present article describes the assessment of the student-learning framework that one school of business facultyteamdevelopedintwosummer months of 2005 and implemented dur- ingthe2005–2006and2006–2007aca-demicyears.Theassessmentframework wasdevelopedforsixdegreeprograms.1
Thisinitialassessmentactivityinvolved thedefinitionoflearninggoals,transla-tion of goals into specific objectives, alignment of curricula to meet goals, selectionofmethods,andcollectionof someperformancedata.
1. The authors will provide copies of the six degreeprogramframeworksuponrequest.
Bonnie Stiversis a professor emerita of
accounting at Kennesaw State University. She is a visiting professor of accounting at More-houseCollege.Herareaofinterestismanagerial accounting.
Jeffrey Phillips’s teaching interests include accounting information systems and cost man-agement. His research interests include internal control systems, cost management systems, and corporategovernanceandcompliance.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Bonnie Stivers, 6935 Cordery Road,Cumming,GA30040,USA.
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