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Dictionary of Student Outcome Assessment

Communication about assessment and student outcomes sometimes uses multiple terms to refer to the same concept, or the same term with different meanings. In true innocence, individuals participating in discussions about accountability and assessment may misunderstand one another. In addition, new concepts arise with new research and more sophisticated practice in assessment. Thus a major step forward in communicating about student outcomes is to clarify the definition of terms and then to use each term consistently. To move this attempt forward, the Center for Assessment and Research Studies has developed a vocabulary of commonly used terms related to assessing student outcomes.

The terms used in this dictionary were selected from regional accreditation and state assessment guidelines; from selected presentations at the Assessment Forums of the American Association for Higher Education; from a group of policy makers, government officials, assessment practitioners, testing company representatives; and from Center for Assessment and Research Studies faculty and graduate students at James Madison University.

To access, please enter your term in the box below, then click on your desired search option: by term, definition, or both terms and definitions. Each entry has the following information: term, cross-reference or synonym, the definition, and references, where applicable.


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For any comments regarding new terms or suggested definitions for this Dictionary, please write to : Thank you.