Assessment at Baruch

Creating an Assessment

This page is meant as a primer on how to design and conduct an assessment, but it is by no means in-depth enough to be used as one's only resource. As such, several helpful links are peppered throughout, which include far more detailed information.

Assessment: A Three-Step Cycle

The below graphic illustrates the cyclical process of assessment, which consists of, at minimum, three major steps. This process is sometimes referred to as the "Plan-Assess-Improve" method, but there are numerous other processes with up to six major steps. However, the three-step method is simple, streamlined, and effective.

What is outcomes assessment?

Set Standards for Learning

First, standards must be set. Without standards, nothing can be assessed. It is best for standards to be enumerated and precisely defined: rather than saying that students should "Acquire a breadth of linguistic knowledge," for example, it is better to say that students should "Acquire a working knowledge of phonology, syntax, and semantics." This way, each standard can be individually evaluated, and subjective judgements are kept to a minimum.

Systematically Gather, Analyze, and Interpret Evidence

The next step is to evaluate how well your standards are met. This is the most intensive step, and is that which is most frequently associated with "assessment." Standards must be mapped to a rubric, by which student performance will be graded and ranked to give a statistical insight into how well students are meeting standards (and, by extension, how well a program is ensuring that its standards are met).

Data must be collected, analyzed, and interpreted. The collection can be done using surveys, assessment of a final project or portfolio, or standardized testing.

Whatever the means, the final task that must be completed in this step is the assessment report. Completed assessment reports from Baruch can be seen on the Assessment Projects & Surveys page. The purpose of an assessment report is to present and interpret the assessment results, presenting suggestions on how a program might find better success. Both successes and failures should be highlighted and discussed in-depth.

  • Assessment Framework for Academic and Administrative Support Services (.pdf)
    In 2008, the Office of Institutional Research and Program Assessment prepared this document, providing a framework by which assessment can be conducted, as well as including information on logic models, improvement strategies, and how assessment differs from standard yearly reporting. Although this document is not recent, it is not outdated, and it is still a valuable resource.
  • Bloom's Taxonomy Blooms Digitally
    When designing an assessment, it is useful to have familiarity with Bloom's Taxonomy, which identifies several different layers of learning, from lower order (knowledge) to higher order (evaluation). This way, students will be assessed at all levels of knowledge, rather than just one or two. This Taxonomy has been revised several times, and this article by Andrew Churches, hosted by, provides in-depth information on several different versions of it.

Use Information to Improve Performance

The final step is to put the assessment report into practice. This can take numerous forms, including restructuring the curriculum, redefining learning goals to better match the skills that students are actually acquiring, changing standards for program admission, adding courses, and hiring new faculty.

Starting the Process Over Again

An assessment is only of value insofar as its findings are applied; the goal is that whatever changes are undertaken will effectively remediate any problems that were found while continuing to foster identified successes. However, it is not enough to simply assume that these changes had the effect that they were presumed to, which is why the entire assessment cycle starts over again.

Assessment is ultimately about identifying which practices are successful and which are unsuccessful, and trying to fix the latter while preserving the former. It is, by necessity, an adaptive process, and must continuously change to reflect the realities of a given program.