Friday, August 3, 2012


Assessment… the word often makes people cringe on the inside and sometimes visible sweat may start to form around parts of the temple and forehead area. But as the years have passed, for me personally, I have learned that assessing is not as scary as people can make is seem. (This statement also does not count the fact that I worked a whole summer as a grad practicum in an assessment office!)

                If you examine the word assessment you will find the root word assess, which according to, means to estimate or judge the value, worth or importance of something. Who wouldn’t want to know the value of something in which they have invested time or effort, especially if it affects what they do on a daily basis? Well in the field of student affairs what we do on a daily basis involves students and most importantly, student learning. Each time we interact with a student our mission should be to facilitate an environment for learning that enriches the value of their overall experience in higher education. But we can’t know if we’ve achieved this goal without assessment!

                Our students often tell us directly or indirectly the skills and knowledge they are looking to gain from the responsibilities they take on as leaders, student workers, or organization members. They look to us to help them structure their journey to achieve these goals. And most of them want lots of feedback to know how they are progressing along the way. So instead of running the other direction when you realize this may require you to break out your handy dandy Assessing Student Learning book by Linda Suskie, take a minute to stop and relax instead. There are several tools out there that can help both you and the students your serve.

                Suppose your student wants to improve their communication skills. Both of you can take a look at the Interpersonal Communication Rubric that’s located on the Student Leader Learning Outcome Website ( There are several categories such as listening, eye contact, and voice that the student can reflect over using the rubric. And each category in the rubric is specifically outlined with detailed descriptions to help a student recognize where they are (novice through expert) in relation to their skills in each area. So you don’t have to create anything. It’s already done! Woo hoo! Taking the time to go through this activity with the student may seem daunting at first, but the best way to get over that fear is to just do it. We’re all constantly learning new things.

                So have no fear, SLLO is here! And we want you to just take a leap as you work to show the value of the learning that takes place with your students every day. No matter how big or small, every bit matters. 

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