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Academic Assessment Committee: Sampling

Sampling for the Assessment of Student Learning

Another important step in the assessment plan is determining who will be assessed. It isn't necessary to assess large samples; it's more important that the sample be representative of the student population. Moderately sized samples are sufficient.  Sampling facilitates the assessment process when programs have large numbers of students and when programs have artifacts that take a long time to review.

Assessing the entire population is called a census, and it is best used by small programs. For small programs, assessing the entire population may yield a more accurate measure of student learning. A sample is a portion of the population, and is best used by large programs where assessing all students is not feasible. The general rule of thumb regarding sampling is 10 students or 10% of the students, whichever is greater.

Sampling Methods

Things to Consider When Determing Sample Size

  • The length and complexity of the assignments

    • If the assignment or artifact is over 20 pages (e.g. research paper), then a smaller percentage of students should be chosen for the sample. Since the standard is 10% or 10 students, whichever is greater, then you would sample 10% of your population.

  • The number of student enrolled in the program

    • If the program has less than 50 students, then you should consider using a larger percentage or the entire population. According to the standard, you would choose 10 students at a minimum.

  • The number of faculty members serving on the faculty panel

    • If the program only has three faculty members evaluating artifacts, then a smaller sample size would be more appropriate depending on the complexity of the assignment. However, programs with over 10 faculty members and short assignments could have a much larger sample size since there are many more people available to evaluate the artifacts.

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