A gathering of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) higher education stakeholders met in November 2018 to consider the relationship between innovation in education and assessment. When we talk about assessment in higher education, it is inextricably linked to both evaluation and accreditation, so all three were considered. The first question we asked was can we build a nation of learners? This starts with considering the student, first and foremost. As educators, this is a foundation of our exploration and makes our values transparent. As educators, how do we know we are having an impact? As members and implementers of institutions, programs and professional societies, how do we know students are learning and that what they are learning has value? The focus of this conversation was on undergraduate learning, although we acknowledge that the topic is closely tied to successful primary and secondary learning as well as graduate education. Within the realm of undergraduate education, students can experience four-year institutions and two-year institutions, with many students learning at both at different times.
Thirty-seven participants spent two days considering cases of innovation in STEM education, learning about the best practices in assessment, and then discussing the relationship of innovation and assessment at multiple levels within the context of higher education. Six working groups looked at course-level, program-level, and institution-level assessment, as well as cross-disciplinary programs, large-scale policy issues, and the difficult-to-name “non-content/cross-content” group that looked at assessment of transferable skills and attributes like professional skills, scientific thinking, mindset, and identity, all of which are related to post-baccalaureate success. These conversations addressed issues that cut across multiple levels, disciplines, and course topics, or are otherwise seen as tangential or perpendicular to perhaps “required” assessment at institutional, programmatic, or course levels. This report presents the context, recommendations, and “wicked” challenges from the meeting participants and their working groups. Along with the recommendations of workshop participants, these intricate challenges weave a complex web of issues that collectively need to be addressed by our community. They generated a great deal of interest and engagement from workshop participants, and act as a call to continue these conversations and seek answers that will improve STEM education through innovation and improved assessment.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE-1843775. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Bates, R., & Arnold, A. (Eds.). (2019). Report from the STEM 2026 Workshop on Assessment, Evaluation, and Accreditation. Mankato, MN: Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/reports/1.
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