IIE Networker - Spring 2007 - (Page 51)
Knowledge Network Assessment Principles of International Education Assessment By Darla K. Deardorff What tool should we use to assess our program? We don’t know anything about assessment, where do we start? These are questions I have heard frequently in working with different institutions as they tackle assessment of internationalization on their campuses or of a specific international program. Given the current trend toward more accountability and with an increased focus on outcomes assessment in higher education in general, citing numbers and program statistics are no longer sufficient in determining a program’s success. This trend is driving administrators to ask these kinds of questions, forcing them to become more familiar with assessment principles and terminology. In fact, while regional monitoring bodies have traditionally focused on inputs and outputs of institutional programs and services, the trend is for regional accrediting agencies to now emphasize specific outcome measures—both institutional outcomes and student learning outcomes. To that end, numerous institutions have actually built international education outcomes assessment into the accreditation process. For example, Wake Forest University included the development and implementation of a comprehensive intercultural competence program for study abroad students into its Quality Enhancement Plan, with assessment built into the entire program. Other institutions have similarly incorporated international education outcomes into the accreditation process. Yet, it is important to remember that assessment goes beyond a one-time report, pre-post survey, or an accreditation process. Successful assessment involves a longterm commitment to continuous improvement of student learning, as well as to increased effectiveness of programs and services. As various institutions and programs more intentionally address assessment, it is important to consider some hallmarks of international education assessment. While there is no one right way of undertaking assessment, no magic solution or one ideal assessment tool, there is some guidance found in assessment literature.1 Mission/Goals/Objectives The starting point with any assessment is in reviewing the overall mission and goals. Based on the goals, what are specific measurable objectives? In the case of student learning outcomes, these measurable objectives usually begin with an action verb. For example, students will “demonstrate a high level of proficiency in a foreign language.” So, back to the question of “What tool should we use?” The goals and objectives determine the assessment tools and methods used, not the other way around. Just because one institution is using a particular tool does not mean the same tool is appropriate for another institution. What is being measured? The answer to this question determines the tools and methods we use. Definitions/Indicators/Criteria Too often, assessment involves general statements such as “students will gain cross-cultural awareness” or “students will become more interculturally competent.” What do these terms mean? How are they defined and operationalized and according to whom? Research has found that even when administrators define concepts and terms being assessed, they often do not consult existing literature. In the case of intercultural competence, an entire study was conducted in which 21 leading intercultural experts achieved consensus on a definition of intercultural competence, thus becoming the first study to document consensus on a definition of this complex term. Once such a definition has been established, specific indicators can be developed. The key is first defining what it is we intend to measure. Assessment Plan Often, administrators may begin collecting data before an assessment plan has been developed. While this can work for some schools and programs, it is best if an assessment plan can be developed from the outset. In developing such an assessment plan that is integrated into the program, it is important to involve stakeholders, listening to their needs and incorporating their input into the assessment plan. Such a plan would ideally be a multi-year plan, which takes into account the assessment cycle, includes an evaluation of the assessment process itself, has the appropriate resources to support it, and contains details for how the data will specifically be used. SPRING 2007 UNDERGRADUATE ASSESSMENT SYMPOSIUM North Carolina State University is hosting a Spring 2007 Undergraduate Assessment Symposium (April 13-15, 2007) which features an international education track. Details can be found at http://www.ncsu.edu/assessment/sym_home.htm.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Spring 2007
IIE Networker - Spring 2007
Message from Allan E. Goodman
Up Front: The International Education Diary
Best Practices in International Education: Andrew Heiskell Awards 2007
In-Country Consortia: Rethinking Collaboration in Education Abroad
IIENetworker University Presidents Interview Series: A Conversation with President John B. Simpson, State University of New York at Buffalo
Higher Education in Pakistan: A Silent Revolution
Opening Minds to the World: Toyota and IIE
Dual Degree Programs
South Africa–USA Partnership
The Browser: Index of Advertisers
IIE Networker - Spring 2007
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