How do you know that your students have learned what you set out to teach them?  The short answer is assessment.  Although you may not have used this specific term before, if you have taught, chances are you have used assessment.  Have you given a test, assigned a project or presentation, or led a discussion and used what you learned to improve your teaching?  You have done assessment.

Assessment in higher education can be broadly defined as the process of gathering information about student learning to improve education.  At Wayne State, as with other universities, assessment is done at several levels:  university, school or college, program, course, concept, or individual learning objectives.  In the Office for Teaching and Learning, we are focused on course level assessment and below.  However, we encourage you to align your assessments with the needs of the program whenever possible.  The Academic Affairs office, which coordinates program assessment, is available to assist you with other forms of assessment.

Looking specifically at the classroom, assessment falls into two categories:  formative and summative.  Formative assessment gauges the process of learning while it is still occurring, providing the instructor with feedback, and should have minimal impact on grades, but rather focuses on directing instruction.  Whereas summative assessment is focused on evaluating the result of learning and is more often connected with determining grades.