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UMM Home > Assessment > UMM Assessment FAQ
UMM Assessment FAQ

What is the difference between Direct Measures and Indirect Measures?

According to Cecilia L. López, Associate Director of the North Central Accreditation Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, in her report titled “Opportunities for Improvement: Advice from Consultant-Evaluators on Programs to Assess Student Learning” (March 1996), “Direct measures of student learning yield useful information about the value added to a student’s learning by the general education program, the major, or the graduate or professional program, especially when the results from multiple measures are triangulated and are compared with (1) baseline data and/or with (2) data from other measures taken over time” (p. 14)

Some examples of direct measures include (but are not limited to) the following:

• projects;
• performances;
• portfolios;
• capstone experiences and/or projects;
• licensure and pre-professional examinations;
• papers;
• exams;
• standardized exams;
• presentations;
• internships;
• field experiences.

López also explains that “Many sources of data if used alone are inadequate measures of student learning. However, some of these sources, when used to supplement direct measures, provide information that may enrich or illuminate aspects of what the direct measures tell us about students’ academic achievement” (p. 14).

Some examples of indirect measures include (but are not limited to) the following:

• surveys / interviews;
• open-ended questions on a survey (for discipline majors, exit surveys and/or interviews for seniors in the major, for a class at the end of the semester);
• faculty discipline meetings where opinions are shared, discussed and documented (Don’t forget to take notes!).

Why does my discipline have to write assessment reports?

Disciplines are asked to write assessment reports in order to document what you and your discipline members have chosen to do (or chosen to not do) to make programmatic improvements at the level of course, major or general education requirements. When it is time for your discipline’s program review, you will be asked to provide five (5) year’s worth of past Assessment Reports. If you don’t write them now, you won’t have them! Assessment reports provide a method by which we can actually measure the public good we provide.

What happens to my assessment report?

Disciplines submit their assessment reports to their Division Chairs on a mutually agreed upon date. These reports are then forwarded to the chair of the Assessment Committee for posting to the Assessment of Student Learning Committee website. Reports are also forwarded to the Dean.

Can someone help me?

Absolutely! We are here to help! Members of the Assessment committee are available to meet with disciplines to help with assessment reports and to give feedback. We have posted templates on the committee website to serve as guides for those unfamiliar with or in any way apprehensive about the writing of discipline assessment reports.