The assessment of graduate programs can be a qualitatively different exercise than assessment at the undergraduate level.
- For programs that include a thesis or doctoral dissertation, for example, the best evidence of student learning is often contained in that academic work.
- Programs that include qualifying exams (comps, generals, etc.), end up with graduates who have already demonstrated successful achievement of learning outcomes related to content in the discipline. Often, little attention is paid to those who fail the qualifying exam.
- In some disciplines, there is very little coursework in a graduate program, and the emphasis is on research and publication. Publication is another measure that demonstrates how well students have learned professional skills and values.
- Many graduate programs have small numbers of students, limiting thorough analysis of assessment data.
- To some extent, formative assessment is more critical to program improvement in many graduate programs (particularly doctoral programs) than is summative assessment.
Maki, P and Borkowski, N (2006). The Assessment of Doctoral Education: Emerging Criteria and New Models for Improving Outcomes. Stylus. Sterling, VA.
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