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Program Assessment

of multiple outcomes, using them for strategic planning and program improvement, and to advocate for funding and resources

Continual program assessment and evaluation is crucial to measuring success keeping project activities aligned with stated goals. This includes:

  1. Measuring multiple outcomes by systematically collecting and analyzing student and program-level data
  2. Using that analysis to make informed decisions about program development and improvement
  3. Communicating successes to key stakeholders to build support for the program

Strategies for Effective Program Assessment

The first step we recommend in each of these areas is to complete the PTEPA Rubric. That will help you determine your strengths and weaknesses, as well as what types of strategies are relevant for your institution.

Measuring Multiple Outcomes

Assess your program along various axes. Analyze annual graduation and recruitment rates, persistence in the profession, diversity of teacher candidates, the extent of institutional commitment to teacher preparation, and quality of the teacher training. Hiring or assigning a specific person to manage databases of contact information and/or social media groups is often key to successfully analyzing these metrics.

Use pre-existing content and pedagogy assessment instruments. A variety of research-based assessments for content knowledge, scientific reasoning, beliefs and attitudes, etc, can be found on PhysPort or at the Concept Surveys page of the University of Maryland PER Group.

Program Development and Improvement

Encourage faculty to use content assessment regularly and effectively. Research shows that traditional lectures do little to change students' fundamental conceptual understanding of physics, and these assessments may help to convince resistant faculty to make changes to their curriculum.

Use program evaluation to make iterative changes to the program. Assessments highlight both strengths and weaknesses. Use the Physics Teacher Education Program Assessment (PTEPA) Rubric to see which areas need improvement and which are successful. Then, look at specific resources to help you improve where you need to.

Develop a strategic plan. Outline the goals you have to improve your teacher education program, then decide on specific actions you will take and when you (or specific colleagues) will take them. Keep track of these goals and progress toward them.

Communicating Successes to Key Stakeholders

Solicit feedback from stakeholders. This includes students in your program, university faculty and administrators, and high school principals who might hire your graduates.

Publicize your program’s activities and successes. Work with media representatives to publish news articles, social media stories, and create posters that show off your work to students, faculty, and staff at all levels.

Use assessment data to argue for support for your program. Address your administrators’ highest priorities such as recruitment and financial return by providing data of your program’s effectiveness. Additionally, data that show success in one program area can be leveraged for support for funding to bolster other areas that still need improvement.

Further Reading for Improving Assessment

  1. The Teacher Preparation Analytics' “A Guide to the Key Effectiveness Indicators” (2016)
  2. Assessing and Evaluating Teacher Preparation Programs (Worrell et al., 2014)
  3. The Framework for Teaching Evaluation instrument (Danielson, 2013)
  4. From Compliance Reporting to Effective Communication: Assessment and Transparency (Jankowski and Cain, 2015)
  5. Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style (Olson, 2009)

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