Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Assessment in Higher Education (was Re: Grading, Evaluation and Bonus Points)

Some blog followers might be interested in a recent discussion-list post “Assessment in Higher Education (was Re: Grading, Evaluation and Bonus Points)” [Hake (2012)]. The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: Chris Rust (2012), in a POD post “The unscholarly use of numbers in our assessment practices; what will make us change?” at, raised the “fundamental question . . . what are marks, points or grades actually meant to represent?”

Consistent with Rust's concern for meaning of grades, pre/post testing – see e.g., with Concept Inventories has strongly suggested that most course grades in traditional passive-student introductory physics lecture classes (not to mention most “Student Evaluations of Teaching”- see e.g., at are essentially meaningless as gauges of students’ higher-order learning, since:

(a) students in such courses attain pre-to-posttest gains that average only about 23% of the maximum possible gain; while at the same time

(b) it's probably safe to say that well over half of the students in those courses had received course grades of A, B, or C, normally (but erroneously) considered to mean, respectively, “excellent,” “good,” and “fair.”

Rust (2012) references his earlier article “Towards a scholarship of assessment” [Rust (2007)], with a preview at in which he stated “it is vital that we explicitly articulate and establish a scholarship of assessment, which should be at the very heart of our scholarship of teaching and learning” . . . .[[my bold text: NO! the bold text does NOT mean that Rust was “shouting”]]. . . . As a guide to such articulation, I recommend Peggy Maki’s excellent book Assessing for Learning: Building a Sustainable Commitment Across the Institution .

To access the complete To access the complete 15 kB post please click on

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Links to Articles:
Links to SDI Labs:

“What we assess is what we value. We get what we assess,
and if we don’t assess it, we won’t get it.”
Lauren Resnick [quoted by Grant Wiggins (1990)]

REFERENCES [URL’s shortened by and accessed on 05 Sept 2012.]
Hake, R.R. 2012. “Assessment in Higher Education (was Re: Grading, Evaluation and Bonus Points),” online on the OPEN AERA-L archives at Post of 5 Sep 2012 12:12:19-0700 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being transmitted to several discussion lists.

Wiggins, G. 1990. “The Truth May Make You Free, But the Test May Keep You Imprisoned: Toward Assessment Worthy of the Liberal Arts,” online at on the MAA’s SAUM (Supporting Assessment in Undergraduate Mathematics) page “Getting Started With Assessment”

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