Assessment in higher education takes on multiple meanings and has various aims. Professors assess students' performance in a course and at semester's end assign grades. Programs--examples at our law school include the Externship Program and DU Bar Success--assess courses and activities that teach students specific knowledge and particular skills. The JD Program assesses the design and delivery of its curriculum of legal education in order to maintain excellence and prepare practice-ready lawyers.
JD Program assessment plays a role in earning the law school ABA approval and accreditation. ABA Standards require law schools to engage in assessment.1 Read more about accreditation here.
Assessment begins with establishing Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs). Think of these as takeaways. What do we want a student to take away from a course, from earning a Certificate, from completing the requirements for the JD? The next step is to examine whether these SLOs are being met.
Assessment is data-driven. We want fact-based analysis of our programs of learning. And assessment is a critical activity. We want to know what we are doing well and where we can improve. "Assessment," write two experts in this field, "is the systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development."2
Click on the links to the left to learn more about assessment at Denver Law.