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Student-Focused Learning and Assessment

Involving Students in the Learning Process in Higher Education

Edited By Natasha A. Jankowski, Gianina R. Baker, Erick Montenegro and Karie Brown-Tess

This contributed volume explores institutional and programmatic policies and practices which actively engage students as partners in improving student learning. This entails an examination of the degree to which students are partners in the assessment and learning processes and the characteristics of these partnerships. This volume showcases student partnerships, as well as presents a history of institutional culture affecting student learning, the role of students in teaching and learning, and brings student voices and perspectives to bare through research from a variety of institutional types. Case studies, current programs and activities, and a model for culturally-responsive assessment are highlighted to better understand student-focused learning and assessment. Implications for faculty, staff, and administrators are questioned. Overall, this volume links research to practice, and offers faculty, practitioners, and administrators different forms and methods of including students, while keeping issues of equity in mind.

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9. Focus on Students and Equity in Assessment to Improve Learning



Synonyms of assessment of student learning as classroom practice were once “measurement” and “testing,” where the goal was a summative final grade used to evaluate student performance. When assessment became common practice as part of program review, it was once again a summative piece used to grade a program’s effectiveness in meeting certain metrics. However, assessment has continued to evolve and grow from a practice of measurement into a more complex field. Now, a more appropriate synonym for assessment is improvement. As Kuh et al. (2015) state, “gathering information about collegiate outcomes has a practical goal: using it to improve both student learning and institutional performance” (p. 51). Assessment data becomes consequential when it is used to make changes that increase student learning and success. While this shift in assessment conceptualization, implementation, and use is positive, assessment itself has room for improvement.

While teaching and learning are central to the varying missions of colleges and universities, they are unattainable if we have no one to teach and no one’s learning to assess. Thus, at the center of academia should be students. Hence, students should also be at the center of assessment. If assessment is not done to improve learning for all students—that is, to be consequential, meaningful, and valid for all students—but instead completed to fulfill accreditation or accountability requirements, then the argument of this chapter does not matter. Relatedly, assessment cannot be fully meaningful, valid, and consequential for all...

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