Sinclair Community College Definition of Assessment
The following definition has been created and adopted by the college to increase the level of common agreement regarding what assessment is, who is responsible for it and the purpose for doing it.

Assessment at Sinclair is the shared process of purposeful, systematic measurement used to document, reflect upon, and improve student learning.

The Shared
- collective responsibility of administration, faculty, staff and students to gather   and use information
Process - an ongoing plan, do, study, and act cycle of continuous improvement of
Purposeful - intentional or desired
Systematic - an organized effort impacting all parts of the whole
Measurement - the meaningful collection of information for comparative purposes
Used – employ for a purpose or benefit
To document – to capture, record, or provide evidence for
Reflect upon – to ponder, consider, study, or analyze and
Improve - to make better
Student Learning - acquired knowledge, understanding, attitudes, perspective, mastery, or skills

What is the Assessment Process?
Assessment is an ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving student learning. It involves making our expectations explicit and public; setting appropriate criteria and high standards for learning quality; systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well performance matches those expectations and standards; and using the resulting information to document, explain, and improve performance. When it is embedded effectively within larger institutional systems, assessment can help us focus our collective attention, examine our assumptions, and create a shared academic culture dedicated to assuring and improving the quality of higher education.
- AAHE Bulletin, November 1995

Assessment asks important questions about student learning, gathers some meaningful information on these questions, and uses the information for academic improvement. Discussions about assessment issues in higher education consistently include two conclusions: assessment tries to determine what students actually achieve in their college study; and assessment links educational objectives (of a course, a program, a field of study, or an institution) to some measures of student achievement.

Why Assess Higher Education?
Efficient and accurate assessment of student learning and development will provide information which can be used to maintain and enhance the quality of college programs and services and facilitate student success. For example, can we improve what we're already doing? Are we actually doing what we say we are doing? Can we improve our curriculum, services, and teaching/learning processes based on the information we derive from the assessment of student learning and development?

"A major assessment movement is underway in higher education.  The key to whether or not it will have the desired positive effect rests directly on five factors:
The quality of the goals that are developed,
How well these broader goals are stated on an operational basis in performance terms,
Whether or not these same goals are transferred to course-specific goals,
The match between the objectives and the assessment instruments that are used (at all levels of instruction), and finally,
The involvement and ownership that individual faculty and academic departments have in the overall effort.
Unless all five of these elements are taken into consideration, this movement will not have its desired outcome." - Robert M. Diamond, Designing and Improving Courses and Curricula in Higher Education: A Systematic Approach, p. 124, 1989.

Community Colleges across the nation are making major efforts to address issues involving student outcomes, assessment, retention and institutional effectiveness. The common concern for all is finding means to encourage student success.

The assessment movement expanded throughout the 1980's with the evolution of statewide mandates and new regional accreditation requirements. Some state legislators and governors mandated that colleges and universities develop assessment plans. To date, nearly two thirds of the states have either instituted or are planning statewide assessment programs. The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools now requires evidence of assessment as part of the accreditation process. The Department of Education proposed regulations compelling all accredited institutions to gather data which would provide evidence of student achievement. Also, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has adopted guidelines necessitating the gathering of assessment data by its colleges. While progress has been made, pressure for better information regarding student achievement is likely to continue to grow.

What is the Difference Between Assessment and Evaluation?
The following provides a means of differentiating between evaluation and assessment in order to better understand and operationalize assessment practices at Sinclair.

Evaluation is the analysis and use of data by faculty to make judgments about student performance.  Evaluation includes the determination of a grade or a decision regarding pass/fail for an individual assignment or for a course.

Assessment is the analysis and use of data by students, faculty, and/or departments to make decisions about improvements in teaching and learning.  This description is congruent with the College’s definition: “Assessment at Sinclair is the shared process of purposeful, systematic measurement used to   document, reflect upon, and improve student learning.”




A faculty member provides feedback to a student regarding performance on an examination. The student uses that feedback to study differently in order to improve learning and performance. A faculty member corrects an examination and assigns a grade of 82% to a student.
A team of faculty members analyzes examination results of all students in a course and discovers that 65% of the students did not demonstrate understanding of an important concept. Faculty members investigate possible causes and plan changes in teaching/learning strategies to improve student understanding. Pop quizzes are given in a class to determine if students have read sections of the text that cover important concepts. Simple Pass/Fail grades are assigned and tallied at the end of the quarter. The quizzes count for 5% of the total course grade
A student delivers an oral presentation in class. The faculty member provides a critique of delivery and content so that improvements may be made in the student’s subsequent presentations. A student delivers an oral presentation in class. The faculty member provides a critique of delivery and content accompanied by a grade for the assignment.
A faculty member analyzes the results of oral communication checklists completed for all students in the course section who delivered oral presentations in class in order to determine opportunities for improving teaching and learning. An Allied Health faculty member uses a rating scale to assign numbers (1-4) that indicate the level of achievement of clinical criteria based on observation of a student’s performance of patient care.
The class attendance record indicates that a student has been absent multiple times. The faculty member advises the student in order to facilitate improved attendance, as studies suggest that regular class attendance contributes to student success. Points are deducted from a student’s grade for each class absence, in accordance with a department policy.
Students are videotaped interacting with the children in the Early Childhood Education Centers. They view their videotapes and develop self-assessment narratives in which they describe and evaluate their performances. They then develop specific plans for improvement. Students are videotaped interacting with children in the Early Childhood Education Centers. A faculty member evaluates each videotaped performance based upon course criteria and assigns a letter grade.
A student reads another student’s essay and gives feedback on the content and correctness of the essay as a way to improve the writing. A faculty member reviews a student peer reader’s feedback and assigns a point value to the documentation to indicate satisfactory completion of the assignment.