Using the DQP to develop assignments and assessments

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Rather than ask faculty to relinquish the certification of student mastery to some external authority, the DQP invites evidence about student proficiency in a way that keeps faculty judgment firmly in control. The DQP — as well as discipline-specific Tuning processes (learning outcomes alignment/mapping at the programmatic level) — affirm that assignments developed by faculty are the key both to students’ development of expected proficiencies and to the gathering of necessary evidence regarding meeting the proficiency standards of the degree. Both work focused on cumulative learning within a field of study and the DQP, with its emphasis on degree-level outcomes, enable a closer alignment between assessment strategies and overall academic priorities.

From the earliest discussions leading to the DQP, a clear standard has prevailed: Will these statements of proficiency encourage faculty to craft appropriate assignments, and will the DQP prompt and assist with assessment? Now that many campuses have used the DQP as a framework for assessing student learning, this edition of the DQP provides guidance on both assignments and assessments. (See Appendix C)

For students enrolled in degree-granting institutions, the primary mechanism for determining whether or not students have mastered a given DQP proficiency at a given level is an assignment within a course. Such assignments should unavoidably elicit student responses that allow faculty to judge proficiency. While constructing assignments and assessments is already a core part of what faculty members do at the course and program levels, the DQP affirms that its proficiencies, complemented with a range of examples, will support faculty in further prompting students to demonstrate what they know and can do. As Appendix C indicates, resources for assessing DQP proficiencies will continue to expand.

DQP proficiencies are described at each degree level with “action verbs” that portray what a student at each level can actually do. Those descriptions should guide faculty in constructing assignments and laying the foundation for assessment. DQP proficiency statements also propose concrete demonstrations meant to elicit student performance at each degree level — an examination question, research paper, class project or artistic performance. Hence faculty members building an assignment to address a given DQP proficiency might begin with the verb or verbs that describe the proficiency and the task that illustrates it. A second step should be to determine how particular proficiencies are expected, enhanced or tested across courses and field-based learning in a curriculum. This step will help faculty properly place the assignments that they want to use to determine student attainment within the curriculum.