“Boring, lame, inconvenient, and unnecessary.” If you would have asked me several years ago my thoughts on assessment, this would have been my response when I was adjunct faculty. I abhorred assessment because I didn’t get it, but I didn’t get it because I was not educated in it. I had a resistance to it, and my resistance was rooted in my insecurities and my ignorance in the area.
When it was that time of year for the assessment reports, I thought to myself WHY!!???, and I submitted my assessment reports, gritting my teeth, just wanting to get them over with, and out of my face.
It’s really hard for me to admit that I knew nothing about assessment when I started teaching as an adjunct. When I say I knew nothing, I knew NOTHING. I didn’t even know that the exams I had in my course were actually a form of assessment, that was how bad it was. When I started teaching part time, my knowledge of assessment was not a requirement. I met the qualifications on paper, I was handed a book and a syllabus, and off I went.
When I was hired as residential faculty I knew a little more. I had previous experience as a curriculum developer and I knew that I wanted to do better and I wanted to change my negative attitude. I had to be honest with myself by raising my hand and saying “My name is Tenisha Baca and there’s a lot about assessment that I still don’t know, but feel like I should know.” I knew that the only way to remedy my negative attitude towards it was to commit to taking the time to properly learn what it is, how it works, and why it’s important. So, I signed up for the assessment seminar at the Center for Teaching Learning and Engagement (CTLE), and my mind opened up to a whole new world of amazing in the following ways:
- Assessment is really not that big, bad, or scary. It’s simple and informative.
- I can do this, I can do a better job, and the CTLE can help me.
- If I’m all about student success, I need to do it and take it more seriously for the benefit of the student’s learning experience.
I applied it and I’m happy that I did. I have seen an improvement in my student’s exam scores, I revised the curricular areas where my students were struggling, and I have criteria that is clearer and grading that is more consistent. The commitment to assessment had a significant impact in my courses.
If you were like me several years ago, I encourage you to give assessment a chance and really look at the potential and the possibilities behind it. I see the value in assessment because of the improvements I have seen, not only in my students, but myself. Assessment is needed and our decision to take it on and do it right, or do it half way, or not at all, can make a huge difference in student success in the classroom.