Using Case Studies to Assess Students’ Abilities to Apply Knowledge to Real-world Situations (Public Affairs)

Direct measures are assessments of students’ performances or work products that demonstrate the students’ skills and knowledge, helping to reveal what they have learned and to what extent. Direct measures come in many forms and WSU encourages programs to develop measures that fit their needs and disciplinary expectations. Results from direct measures can give faculty essential information about student achievement of program learning outcomes and insights into the effectiveness of the curriculum. 

ATL Mini-grant Project: In the academic year 2015-16, the Public Affairs program received assessment mini-grant funding in support of their project “Case Conversations,” which provided program faculty with access to Electronic Hallway — a maintained database of peer-reviewed teaching case studies related to public affairs. These case studies are integral to one of the program’s direct measures, which brings Public Affairs alumni into the classroom to lead a conversation about a case study that connects with program learning goals. The alumni are asked to evaluate students’ performance on program learning goals, providing the program with both quantitative and qualitative feedback.

According to Dana Baker, Associate Professor and project leader, “Our objective is to see how fluent students are in public affairs, both in an academic and professional sense, and to gauge overall progress toward our learning goals. We also want to understand how students engage with each other and professionals. Case Conversations are a learning opportunity for the students, a chance to pair knowledge with real cases and situations, and an opportunity to network with alumni.”

For additional information about assessment mini-grants, including examples of other previously funded projects, see ATL’s Assessment Mini-Grant webpage.