Assessment and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

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Assessment is at the core of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). In fact, the debate on what exactly constitutes SoTL (e.g., McKinney, 2007; Pan, 2009) often hinges on whether or not student learning is assessed together with whether the results are published or not. Is my teaching effective? Are my students learning? How do I know? Ask these questions of a department, program, college or university, and it is clear you are talking about assessment, a "global term used to refer to the authentic evaluation of teaching and learning outcomes" (Dunn, McCarthy, Baker, Halonen, & Boyer, 2011, p.145). In our view, assessment is the centerpiece to SoTL and maintaining a student-centered focus. Others appear to agree as well (Maki, 2010; Potter & Kustra, 2011). Another definition of assessment involves "the systematic collection of information about student learning, using the time, knowledge, expertise, and resources available, in order to inform decisions about how to improve learning" (Walvoord, 2004, p.2; italics in original). Instructors asking such questions in regard to their own courses, in contrast to when departments, universities, or school systems ask such questions, make for quintessential SoTL. We examine the relationship between SoTL and assessment in this chapter. First, we provide a brief history of SoTL in general and in psychology, followed by highlighting how assessment as part of SoTL presents unique challenges. We conclude with some helpful tips for assessment of one's own teaching and learning.

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