Understanding and Addressing the Challenges of Assessing College Student Growth in Student Affairs

Nicholas A. Bowman   |    Email Article Download Article

Asking college students how much they have learned or grown is a common assessment practice in student affairs and elsewhere. Unfortunately, recent research suggests that these self-reported gains do a very poor job of measuring actual student learning and growth. This paper provides an overview of the psychological process of how students likely respond to such questions and why their responses can be seriously flawed. It also discusses circumstances in which self-reported gains are somewhat more valid and offers concrete suggestions for student affairs professionals and other higher education constituents who seek to accurately measure student outcomes.

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