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Assessing Student Learning

ATHE's Professional Development Committee and its Assessment Subcommittee recently introduced a white paper on programmatic assessment for theatre departments.

From the white paper's executive summary:

"Many place goals upon their graduates and require them to demonstrate the acquisition and development of skills in the courses that make up the programmatic curriculum. While theatre faculty members have an inherent understanding of what artistic growth looks like, we may not always be effective in measuring that growth in an assessment context. Additionally, discerning the differences among goals, objectives, and outcomes, and determining which characteristics and/or qualities are important to the program can be complex. Learning Outcomes (LOs) articulate measurable goals that every student in a program should achieve prior to graduation. The challenge, however, is wording the outcomes in a way that allows for ongoing, sustainable assessment without overburdening faculty members, and that allows a program to grow, adapt, and improve over time.

The process of assessment of student learning is intended to be reflexive, and specific to an individual program. Learning outcomes designed for a conservatory-style program, e.g. B.F.A. Acting, will not work for a small, liberal arts program, e.g. B.A. Theatre Arts. Faculty need to work together to determine what they want students to be able to do upon graduation (LOs), what they will use to demonstrate that learning (artifacts), how they will evaluate those artifacts (rubrics), and what information can be gleaned from the process to make the program more effective."

The white paper includes descriptions of assessment terminology and tools that will help theatre departments create their own assessment programs.

The assessment subcommittee is also maintaining an assessment resource bank.

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