SAUM - Self-Paced Online Guide
Designing and Implementing a Program for Assessing Learning in the Major
The following is a suggested sequence for using the resources on this and other sites to design a program of assessing learning in the undergraduate mathematics major. Except for two books suggested in the final step (#10), full texts of all of the suggested readings are accessible by way of the given links. (The two books can be read on line.) Of course, some users may choose a sequence different from the one suggested and may use resources other than the ones suggested.
- 1. Use the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Assessment in Undergraduate Mathematics as necessary to clarify the meaning of terms.
- 2. View the PowerPoint presentation on assessment – first 25 slides
- 3. Read the CUPM Guidelines for Assessment of Student Learning.
- 4. Consult the Undergraduate Programs and Courses in the Mathematical Sciences: CUPM Curriculum Guide 2004 for recommendations on structuring courses and programs for majors.
This is a reasonable point at which to reflect on and discuss these sources and to resolve conflicting interpretations and arrive at a working consensus that can guide your work on assessment. Areas that commonly cause confusion are: (1) distinctions among terms such as outcomes, goals, and objectives; (2) how to narrow the assessment plan so that it can be accomplished and promote valid inferences; and (3) how the assessment data will be used.
These readings have made suggestions about visions for the structure and goals of the major. This should provide a basis for a process within your department to come to agreement on a vision statement that is useful for assessment. This process may be lengthy, but it is serious work that is essential before moving on to finalize or implement assessment activities.
The readings in the next two steps are relevant during or after this vision-developing process. These readings expand on assessment by looking at it from an international perspective and in a larger arena of program evaluation and accountability, where your assessment results may be used.
- 5. Read “Assessing Undergraduate Mathematics Students” (HTML) (PDF) by Ken Houston.
- 6. To frame assessment of the major in larger arenas:
- Read “The Four A's: Accountability, Accreditation, Assessment, and Articulation” by Peter Ewell and Lynn Arthur Steen.
- View Peter Ewell's PowerPoint slides.
- Assessment: Where Did It Come From and Where Is It Going?
- So What Do I Do with this Stuff? Some Tactics for Using Assessment Results
- Review the components of the Indicators Project.
“Indicators of Quality in Undergraduate Mathematics” is an NSF project led by Kenneth Travers et al. at the University of Illinois intended to help mathematics departments monitor the quality of their lower division program. A major goal was to devise statistical measures that can document characteristics of mathematics programs and gain experience in ways to effectively carry out a data-based self-assessment study. The report, based on pilot studies at three very different kinds of institutions, identifies ten issues with sixty associated statistical measures (indicators).
At this point it is likely that a preliminary plan has been developed. This plan likely includes learning goals and objectives, curricular and instructional strategies, and areas of gathering data – roughly steps 1, 2, and 3 of the assessment cycle. The plan may include how the data will be used.
Experiences of others and further reading about results of research on learning can help refine your preliminary plan. This preliminary plan and the brief abstracts and annotations can guide you in selection of readings.
- 7. Read some of the fourteen case studies on assessing learning in the major in Part I of MAA Notes #49.
- 8. Read selections of the new case studies on assessing the undergraduate major:
- Keene State College, Assessing Oral Presentations in Mathematics (HTML) (PDF)
- North Dakota State University, Developing a Departmental Assessment Program (HTML) (PDF)
- Portland State University, Surveying Majors on Developing a Capstone Course (HTML) (PDF)
- University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Assessment of Bachelors' Degree Programs (HTML) (PDF)
- 9. During 2004-2006, teams of faculty from twenty-eight colleges and universities participatied in the workshop Assessing the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics. You may wish to contact some of these teams who are at institutions similar to yours.
- 10. The annotated Bibliography on assessment provides many possibilities for further reading on assessment. One area that is increasing in importance as we learn more about how students learn is summarized in two publications of the National Academies Press, How People Learn: Expanded Edition (2000) and Knowing What Students Know (2001). Both books can be read online for free.