Saturday, June 23, 2018
Lindsey Gustafson, When Assessment Impedes Student Learning: Analyzing the Consequential Validity of Our Assessment Systems
"Under the ABA’s new directive that formative assessments be added to our curriculum, the pacing (and perhaps total workload) of our semesters may be altering without our having a sophisticated understanding of how to make those alterations. The middle of the semesters, which have traditionally been the playground for the Socratic Method and for legal writing assignments, may now be filled with a variety of assessment activities, and some of them may dominate students’ time in a way that impacts students’ ability to devote attention to their other classes.
This article is intended to guide law faculties as they work to create a diverse, coordinated culture of assessment that improves student learning and generates data with validity that will inform the students, our teaching, and also future employers. The article begins in Part II by describing the limited data we have on how increased assessments across the curriculum impact student learning. The lead study described in Part II demonstrates that even carefully coordinated assessment systems may fail to improve — and may actually inhibit — student learning. As explained in Part III, when assessments become disconnected from student learning, those assessments have low consequential validity, a term used to describe an assessment’s broader impact on student learning. Part IV sets out best practices for building assessments with high consequential validity. Creating a vibrant culture of assessment requires more than just a coordination of assessment activities on a shared calendar. When we each create assessments with high consequential validity, we are more likely to “stay in our own lane” with the design of our assessments: we will carefully use our students’ time to assess core learning goals in our course, and we will design assessments that will improve rather than detract from student’s learning in other courses."