New Book Profiles Arts & Sciences Assessment Effort

AACU highlights Duke program of evidence-based assessment

A new book from a leading national education association is
focusing attention on Duke University's effort to assess student learning.

"Assessing
College Student Learning
," a publication of the Association of American Colleges and Universities
(AACU), includes a case study of Duke, focusing on the efforts of Trinity
College's Office of Assessment
and the Department of Biology.

The chapter on Duke, "Creating a Culture of Evidence,"
notes some of the challenges Duke faculty have faced in defining goals and outcomes
for assessment. But Matt Serra, director of Trinity's Office of Assessment,
said many faculty have welcomed rigorous, evidence-based research to help them address
problems they encounter in the classroom and in the curriculum.

Duke is looking to create a "culture of evidence"
that seeks to improve the quality of the classroom experience through evaluation
of learning outcomes, Serra said.

One example cited in the chapter is
the Department of Biology's assessment of learning in its introductory gateway
courses and in its honors theses.

Duke is one of five case studies used in the book.  Authors Robert J. Sternberg, Jeremy
Penn and Christie Hawkins said many colleges and universities are now
acknowledging that despite mission statements promoting classroom learning as
an institutional priority, few have developed solid measures to mark just how
well they do in the classroom.