Many of the business schools in the United States are accredited by the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business). Generally speaking, AACSB accreditation is dominated by larger B-schools who are able to attract doctorally trained business faculty. I have been at AACSB schools for most of my career.
When B-schools are up for accreditation or renewal, one of the usual problem areas is assurance of learning. An evaluation of assurance of learning addresses whether students learned what they were supposed to learn, and how well. It is a problem area because no professor likes to do it, so most don’t.
Assurance of learning can take place at the program level or course level. For accounting programs, many schools rely on the passage rate of their students on the CPA exam. This of course is a very diffuse measure, as student performance on the CPA exam is affected by many factors other than what happens in a student’s recent course of study, and not necessarily by what happened in the students accounting school.
There are problems with an evaluation of assurance of learning at the course level, also. One such problem is that learning for the long run is considered by some as a desirous goal. But surveying students a few years after a course ends is difficult. Perhaps because of the many problems, and because it is a lot of work, most professors do not generate an assessment of learning for their courses. I think they should. What follows is what I do.
I evaluate assurance of learning as I go along during a course. My blog essay today is based on the assumption that my course is set up to teach what is supposed to be taught. Although I’m not doing it here, evidence for this stage of the evaluation can be gathered from the course syllabus and its section on detailed course learning outcomes.
The basics of my evaluation of assurance of learning from within a course is to gather evidence of measurements (scores and/or grades) from summative tests and projects (after learning has taken place and where letter grades are assigned) to form an opinion as to whether student learning has taken place for each specific course learning objective. Wow, that is a long sentence.
In the following report on my evaluation of assurance of learning for my recent cost accounting course, you can see how I’ve used numeric scores from each test question (or group of questions) to assess whether each course learning outcome has been satisfactorily met.
Albrecht Report on Evaluation of Assurance of Learning
for recent cost accounting test.
I will release the test with answers later today.
Of course, one might question what test question scores really mean. Much of the time I log and count each different student answer, and list how many points were awarded for that answer. Although I have not done it for this test (hey, I’m tired already), it is the only way of documenting what level of student performance has actually taken place on the test. Rest assured, I have been doing it for years. And, I don’t use multiple choice questions, only problems and questions requiring written answers.
You might ask, is all of this really necessary? Well, such reports are in many ways like auditor work papers. And yes, they are necessary. But as I said, no professor likes to do it, and most professors don’t do it.
Debit and credit – - David Albrecht
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