There is never an end to paperwork (screenwork?) in the Assessment Office. This isn’t so much a bad thing as it is just the nature of the metaphorical beast. Each semester needs certain reports created, documents drawn up, and files stored safely away. Because unlike a business model where projects open and then close, education is a revolving door of (hopefully) never ending service to the student body.
The real problem is keeping up with all those different exams, surveys, and day-to-day work sheets. Enter the Assessment Matrix! Now when I first learned about the assessment matrix I was a little let down that I didn’t learn kung fu from it, however it has a similar effect on your workload.
Basic premise is that you line up all the exams that you have to give, report on, and review each semester and you place them in a square. Across from them you list the information that you need about that exam each semester. You can add things like when it is given, who you report the findings to, or what the test is for. An example might be something like our scientific reasoning exam that we report for the Higher Learning Council after every program assessment. Another would be our remediation we report to the administration every trimester.
By including what the test is, who takes it, and how we report the findings we can help ourselves from losing track of a task or forgetting to crunch the numbers later. My personal matrix is still in its infancy but I think it is already helping to keep things straight as the semester advances.
An important facet of the assessment matrix is that it displays the reasons why you need the test. More than once I’ve had someone say, ‘What is that exam for anyway?’ and if I have to think about the answer for more than a second they begin to ask why we need the exam at all. Having a list built into your plan can help avoid these situations as you can find the answer quickly or have a copy on hand for their reference.
This is also a great way to keep from doubling up on exams or surveys. Sometimes several tests check the same information or ask similar questions. To avoid participant fatigue you can combine surveys or avoid asking for too much at the same time.
I hope this helps anyone interested in making their own. Below is an example of the matrix from UCLA that I have been looking at to help build mine from. Enjoy and happy assessing!
UCLA. Office of Instructional Development.