Conducting Indirect Assessments

Direct assessments (or direct measures) of a learning outcome "reveal what students know and can do [while] indirect measures … suggest why performance was above or below expectations and what might be done to improve the processes of education" (Banta, 2004, p. 5). Indirect measures gather perceptions of learning, opinions about learning or reflections on learning rather than direct demonstrations of the results of learning. Using a combination of direct and indirect measures is advisable, because they offer complementary information. However, assessment plans must include direct measures in order to supply credible information for decision-making (Palomba & Banta, 1999).

Below are some indirect assessments that engineering programs nationwide have found useful. It is intended to

  • spark ideas that may prove useful for a department's assessment plan
  • help departments draw on established customs within the program, such as course evaluation surveys and advising meetings and
  • offer concrete tips for selecting, designing, implementing, and scoring each assessment.

Depending on the design of the assessment, each of these assessments can be used for program-level or course-level assessment.

For additional ideas, please contact us (assessment@engin.umich.edu).

References

Banta, T. W. (2004). Introduction: What are some hallmarks of effective practice in assessment? In T. W. Banta (Ed.) Hallmarks of Effective Outcomes Assessment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Palomba, C. A. & Banta, T. W. (1999). Assessment Essentials: Planning, Implementing, and Improving Assessment in Higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.