19 August 2008

Assessment Lexicon Resource

While most books on assessment include a glossary of assessment terms, James Madison University's Dictionary of Student Outcomes Assessment does it better. The online, referenced tool offers a "Textual Search" that retrieves every mention of the word you enter, either as a Term, a Definition, or (most valuable option) both. The search result is a sometimes lengthy table of terms, cross-references, synonyms, definitions, and sources/references.

The JMU Dictionary draws from regional and state accreditation sources researched by the University's Center for Assessment and Research Studies faculty and students. Here's the catch but one easily noticed when you use the tool: references are dated and some obvious terms are missing.

For example, you won't find NCLB or even much from Department of Education (what is cited is from the 1990s, predating the passage of NCLB of 2001). The most recent reference date is 2001, although the compilation work was obviously completed in 2003. (A frequent "Retrieved" date for online references is February 2003.)

You will find a sound selection of terminology from the 1990s that continues to serve the assessment community. What I like is the cross-referencing called "Cross Sources" that is provided whether you use the Textual Search or just Browse by Alphabet.

I also like the concomitant message that comes with this Dictionary. A campus culture of assessment does not emerge overnight: JMU's projects reflecty a history of sustained focus and support.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

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