What Makes Direct and Indirect Assessment So Difficult?

November 10, 2021 Nikki Kowbel

Effective assessment requires a combination of direct and indirect measures of student learning, and defining what you’re measuring is only half the battle. There are many ways to collect data for assessment, from test scores, artifact collection, and sentiment scores — and things get complicated when it comes time for reporting. What makes it so difficult to track both direct and indirect measures for assessment?

Managing Piles of Paper

At the University of Holy Cross, managing the data for their Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) and Institutional Effectiveness Plans (IEPs) was an overwhelming endeavor. The process required going through piles of paper and PDFs, tallying scores, and manually creating reports in Excel, which introduced the opportunity for errors and omissions. Moving to a digital solution eliminates the paper chase.

Keeping Faculty Engaged

On top of managing the sheer volume of paper, the team had to keep faculty engaged and make sure all participants had submitted their documents. This required an elaborate tracking system to identify and follow up on missing information. While the QEP and IEP process supported the university’s strategic plan, the reports were also used for accreditation reporting, so participation wasn’t optional. Assessment technology helps automate the data collection and review processes, freeing up administrative time for more value-added work.

Working in Separate Systems

Digital tools help streamline the assessment and accreditation reporting process, but if the solutions aren’t integrated, reporting isn’t as seamless as it could be. For the University of Holy Cross, implementing Watermark Outcomes Assessment Projects (formerly Aqua) to manage the QEP, Planning & Self-Study to support strategic planning and assessment reporting, and Course Evaluations & Surveys (formerly EvaluationKIT) to gather student feedback helped streamline data collection and create consistent reports.

Overcome Assessment Challenges with Watermark

Combining direct and indirect assessment measures helps close the feedback loop between students, faculty, and administrators. Check out this webinar to learn more about how the University of Holy Cross overcame these common challenges — and how you can, too!

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