How to Understand (and Use) Your Assessment Data at the End of the Semester

June 24, 2015 Kristen Hicks

Assessment has always been about gaining insight into what your students understand. While the basic process of assessment has stayed fairly consistent over the years—tests still dominate in most cases—technology now produces assessment data that allows teachers to look more deeply into their test results and shape their courses for more effective learning.

The end of the semester is a good time for reflection. You have a little time to think back on how the previous semester went and to make revisions to your course that are likely to benefit next semester’s students. The assessment data you collected throughout the semester can be a big help.

ExamSoft reports are designed to be as intuitive as possible so you can understand the data at a glance and quickly shift your focus to analyzing it and considering how to improve student learning results come next year. The main two reports that help with this effort are the faculty report and the longitudinal report. Here’s what you need to know about each.

Faculty Report

The faculty report shows the results of each particular exam and lets you hone in on both the trends of students performance and the overall success of each exam in measuring that performance.

What It Tells You:

Exam Performance – See a snapshot of how your class performed on the exam: the overall class average and the top and bottom scores. You can see how the three values compare in a graph.

Exam Score Reliability – Identify the internal consistency of the exam based on your KR-20 score with an easy-to-understand visual analysis.

Learning Outcomes – See a breakdown of class performance on the exam based on the main learning outcomes you sought to measure.

At-Risk Students – View a list of the students who struggled the most on the exam and who are likely to need some extra help or student remediation.

Question Performance – Review a quick snapshot of how students performed on each question so you can gauge whether the question accomplished the goals you had in mind when writing it.

Tips for Using the Data:

  • Review any questions that were either too frequently missed or too frequently answered correct so you can strengthen them for the next round of students.
  • Identify any problem distractors so you can update them for clarity and improve results the next time the questions are used.
  • Analyze which learning outcomes students didn’t perform well on and consider how to address those objectives better in the curriculum.

Longitudinal Report

The longitudinal report helps you monitor student progress toward learning outcomes over time, across courses, and as a group.

What It Tells You:

Student Performance over Time – See how a student’s understanding of the learning outcomes progressed throughout the semester.

Class Performance over Time – Examine how the class as a whole performed on the learning outcomes you measured throughout the semester.

Tips for Using the Data:

  • Identify which learning outcomes many students in the class had trouble with so you can revisit how they were covered in the curriculum.
  • Analyze how well students understood various concepts at different points during the course to better understand which lessons and assignments were the most effective.
  • Double-check the distribution of concepts and learning outcomes you tested throughout the semester and compare that distribution to how well students progressed toward each outcome.

However successful your course was this semester, you can make it even stronger by analyzing which lessons and assignments helped your students most and which learning objectives could use more focus in your instruction. If you have any difficulty understanding the information in the reports, or if you don’t have ExamSoft yet and want to take a closer glimpse, just ask. We can set you up with a tour of the product and go over it with you.


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