Exploring in-class assessment for student learning: perspectives of full-time faculty members at a small private university



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External pressure on institutions of higher education to provide evidence of quality has been increasing over the past several decades. The pressure continues to increase as the number of students entering higher education increases as well as the federal funding associated with increased enrollment. Institutions of higher education have focused their efforts on using assessment to produce the evidence of the quality of education students receive. However, the use of assessment for accountability to external stakeholders has led to tension within the higher education community. Faculty members are a key component of the assessment process as they are responsible for the implementation of assessment of student learning (Grunwald & Peterson, 2003; Pagano, 2007). Internally, assessment has been historically utilized for improvement of student learning by faculty. However, the duel use of assessment has led to lower participation rates among faculty members in the process (Grunwald & Peterson, 2003; Hutchings, 2010; Pagano, 2007).
The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the perceptions of full-time faculty members about the use of in-class assessment for student learning at a small university. This study focused specifically on the faculty members’ perception of assessment, the faculty members’ perceived ability to use in-class assessment, the faculty’s perceived value of in-class assessment, their perception of in-class assessment’s influence on student learning, and the faculty members’ perception of the professional costs associated with in-class assessment A qualitative methodology collective case study was conducted at a small private university located in North Carolina. Participants in the study included fifteen full-time faculty members. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with the participants, field notes, and documents. Analysis of the data utilized a constant comparative process with initial provisional coding and additional emergent codes followed by secondary round of axial coding of the data. The theoretical framework of the study was expectancy-value theory which suggests the motivation of an individual to participate in a task is related to their knowledge and value of the task. The results of this study show that faculty members perceived in-class assessment as a feedback mechanism on which they could measure student learning and evaluate their own teaching. They also perceived that in-class assessment required a significant time commitment to integrate among many other tasks for which they were responsible. Other results showed that faculty members perceived in-class assessment as a positive influence on student learning. In addition, some faculty were concerned about the professional costs associated with participation in the process. The findings, implications, and recommendations from this study provide higher education practice with some possible mechanism to improve faculty participation in the assessment process. Through increased involvement in the process by faculty institutions can position themselves to provide evidence of improved student learning internally and accountability externally.



Assessment, College faculty, Higher education, Faculty perceptions, In-class assessment, Student learning