- Frameworks for Assessing Learning and Development Outcomes
Implementing credible, yet manageable assessment of student learning and development in student affairs/services as well as other administrative arms of higher education is a growing concern. Resources to aid busy administrators and faculty in embedding assessment of their work into their day-to-day routine are growing in number. As such, administrators have a variety of choices in the manner in which they evaluate the end results of all their activities, particularly as they relate to students' learning and development. The Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) offers Frameworks for Assessing Learning and Development Outcomes as a resource to aid administrators in their endeavor to implement outcomes-based assessment of student learning and development.
Frameworks for Assessing Learning and Development Outcomes
is intended to build on the work that the CAS began in 1979. CAS first published general standards and guidelines for a variety of functional areas within student affairs/services and student development in 1986. The CAS General Standards were [End Page 616] constructed to represent the minimum criteria that particular functional areas should be able to achieve over a period of time with proper institutional support and resources.
In 2003, CAS added learning development outcomes to their General Standards, which were organized into sixteen domains of student learning and development. The intent was to provide an illustration of indicators or learning outcomes that would be relevant to a student interacting within each particular functional area.
In 2006, CAS produced an additional resource, Frameworks for Assessing Learning and Development Outcomes. Frameworks offers assistance to student affairs/services practitioners by presenting a conceptual approach to evaluating student learning and development. The book builds on CAS' 2003 publication by presenting examples of learning and development assessment within its 16 learning and development domains that are intended to cut across functional areas. The 16 learning and development domains include: career choices, collaboration, effective communication, appreciating diversity, personal and educational goals, healthy behavior, independence, intellectual growth, leadership development, satisfying and productive lifestyles, meaningful interpersonal relationships, realistic self-appraisal, enhanced self-esteem, social responsibility, spiritual awareness, and clarified values.
The two introductory chapters provide the conceptual framework for assessment, highlight the complexity of such an endeavor, and explain the organization of the book. Following these chapters, Frameworks provides examples for each learning and development domain. Each domain has its own chapter and each chapter has the same sections for which the meaning is explained in chapter 1. The sections for each domain "chapter" include an introduction; theoretical context; relevant variables and indicators; assessment examples; assessment, evaluation, and research tools; related websites; references; and conclusion.
In the "Assessment Examples" section, Frameworks presents both qualitative and quantitative examples of assessment of student learning within each domain; a concept that was not illustrated with as much detail in their 2003 publication. In addition, Frameworks posits theoretical contexts for learning and development within each learning and development domain, as well as provides a list of instruments and websites for further consultation within each domain. To further aid the reader, Frameworks includes a CD of the book; once loaded onto your computer, it allows for easy point and click access to their recommended websites.
I applaud the author and consulting editors for providing assessment resources that are easy to access by domain area. Such assistance can only aid administrators in their own approach to their assessment planning. The "Word of Caution" that is noted under each section of "Available Instruments" demonstrates great responsibility of the author and editors in not advocating a selection of an assessment instrument without first considering the intended outcome and method of delivery for that outcome.
Various helpful instruments and resources, published in Schuh and Upcraft's (2001) Assessment Practices in Student Affairs: An Applications Manual, are organized by functional area and offered by type of assessment design. Frameworks adds to Schuh and Upcraft's (2001) rich...