Assessing Student Learning
Assessment is one of those terms that causes a lot of contention in academic circles. If learning is defined as a change in knowledge, skill, value, or behavior, then assessment -- or, more specifically, the Assessment of Student Learning, or Classroom Assessment -- is the method by which a teacher can measure learning. According to Angelo and Cross (1993), "Classroom Assessment is an approach designed to help teachers find out what students are learning in the classroom and how well they are learning it" (p. 4). Assessment is something that faculty should embrace, as it is a pedagogical tool that can help them teach more effectively.
There are two primary types of assessment: Formative Assessment and Summative Assessment.
Formative assessment is used to help both the teacher and the student see how successful learning is as it is happening. Formative assessment usually takes the form of short assignments or tasks that are tightly focused on a specific piece of learning. Formative assessment can help a teacher decide whether to continue focusing on that specific piece of learning. It can also help the student decide if the student has studied enough.
This is a link to a longer article about formative assessment.
Summative assessment is probably the more well-known form of assessment. Summative assessment measures learning at the end -- the end of the class or the end of the module or unit. Perhaps the most obvious form of summative assessment is the unit test, which is given to see how well students have learned the content by the end of the unit.
This is a link to a longer article about summative assessment.