As important as asking ‘How is it learned?' is the question ‘How well is it being learned?' There are different layers of assessment, from those dealing with individual courses, to course sequences, to curriculum within, between and among disciplines, to those that connect to larger institutional goals. There are also different tools and strategies related to the practice of assessment in the context of undergraduate STEM. To bring assessment to a level that is recognized by disciplinary scientists, it is important to identify and evaluate the different layers, tools and strategies relating to assessment toward the end of creating new methodologies and analytical designs to validate the different forms of assessment.
Faculty want access to tools and strategies that work, in the classrooms and labs for which they are responsible. They want to be confident that the different kinds of assessment instruments will provide meaningful data about student learning in ways that are also practical and feasible to implement. This dual perspective can be brought to bear on assessment practices from multiple choice tests, concept maps, essays, interviews (high to low for practicality; low to high for potential for assessing learning.)