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Synergistic Assessment Methods By Gavin Henning


hen is assessment not just assessment? When assessment is also educational.

The notion that assessment can also be education is confusing to many folks especially if they view assessment as an activity that is completed at the end of an interaction such as a program, service, or meeting. Synergistic assessment is assessment that provides data to help understand if goals were achieved, where improvements can be made, and helps foster learning. Thinking in this synergistic way requires a shift in our mindset. Student affairs educators need to be actively learner-centered. If educators are learnercentered then assessments will be focused on what students are receiving from an experience, not what they doing as educators, programmers, or administrators. The result is that intentions will be focused on fostering learning in multiple ways. Some methods are more adept at implementing this type of synergistic assessment. In 1993, Thomas Angelo and Patricia Cross published an informative book entitled Classroom Assessment Techniques. This book was meant to be an educational assessment guide for college teachers, but there are benefits for student affairs educators. Most of the 50 techniques in this book can be used in student affairs, and virtually

all of these assessment methods identified in the book foster learning. Let me highlight just a few of these instructive methods so you can see the synergy of partnering assessment with learning. A useful classroom assessment technique is the 1-minute paper. There are many ways to adapt this technique for a variety of learning experiences. The 1-minute paper really is the Swiss Army knife of assessment methods. After an interaction, which could be program, meeting with a student, student organization meeting, or even a conduct hearing, the educator takes a few moments to ask the student to respond to a question using an index card. The question is usually some form of “what was your major take-away from this activity?” In addition to allowing the educator to learn if the student took away from the activity what she was hoping, this method also creates what can be called a “reflection trap.” The 1-minute paper creates a space for the student to reflect on what he/she learned. The reflection trap is the contemplative oasis in a desert of overstimulation. It forces the student to reflect on their learning when there are few opportunities to do that. Another benefit of the synergistic approach of the 1-minute paper is its ability to assess learning at all levels of Bloom’s revised cognitive taxonomy (below).

What are five ways identified in the readings that can help you reduce stress? (Remembering) Based on the floor meeting, what do you believe are at least three reasons we don’t allow alcohol in the residence halls? (Understanding) How can you use what you learned in these activities in your student organization? (Application) After participating in the ropes course, describe the keys to success for the group? (Analyzing) As you reflect on this past year as I have served as your organization’s advisor, in what areas have I been most effective and in what areas can I improve (Evaluating) Based on our conversation regarding potential careers, what would be four steps in your action plan? (Creating)

Winter 2013



Profile for Rutgers University

Assessment in Action Issue 2  

Welcome to the second issue of Assessment in Action! Assessment in Action is a publication of the Rutgers University Division of Student Aff...

Assessment in Action Issue 2  

Welcome to the second issue of Assessment in Action! Assessment in Action is a publication of the Rutgers University Division of Student Aff...