Methods and Data Collection
The Benefits of a Multiple Methods Approach
Best practices recommend a multiple methods approach to academic program level assessment since a single method can restrict the interpretation of student learning. However, the limitations of one method may prompt the selection of other methods. Altogether, multiple methods provide a more accurate frame for assessing student learning. More so, a combination of quantitative and qualitative assessment methods adds reliability and a more comprehensive approach to assessment. Using a multiple methods approach to academic program level assessment has several advantages:
- Minimizes potential limitations of data collection and analysis inherent in a single method
- Provides alternative methods for students to demonstrate learning outcomes that may not have been possible in other methods
- Provides a more complete understanding and interpretation of student achievement
- Values the diversity of different learning methods
Direct methods require students to demonstrate their learning so that observers can assess how well their work fits into the overall program expectation. Observers can then assess and evaluate the student work based on those program expectations. Direct methods can include a student performance, research results, a capstone project, or a final portfolio.
Indirect methods capture the attitude, perception, or opinion of a students’ learning and the efficacy of the factors that foster that learning. Indirect methods alone provide an inadequate picture of student learning, and therefore ought to be complimented with direct methods.
Data Collection Methods handout
Reference: Maki, 2004