Making sense of cultures of assessment and their impact on student learning: a qualitative meta-synthesis

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Education, Health & Human Development


Although cultures of assessment are frequently referenced in institutional effectiveness literature, higher education institutions in the United States continue to experience challenges with demonstrating student learning improvement. This study sought to identify evidence suggesting the broad impact of cultures of assessment on improved student learning outcomes and evidence suggesting the specific effect of faculty professional development in pedagogy and assessment on improved student learning outcomes. Using qualitative meta-synthesis methodology, the findings of fourteen empirical studies were analyzed, deconstructed, and reconstructed. This analysis led to the emergence of three key themes: changes to learning conditions, changes through reciprocal capacity-building, and changes in faculty and student mindsets. While the findings did not offer conclusive evidence in response to the study's research questions, they did lead to recommendations for improved practice in higher education, particularly the need to adopt a learning orientation toward student learning assessment.




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