Direct versus Indirect Assessment

A Quick Guide to Direct, Indirect and Non-Measures

Araya Maurice and David Purkiss


1. Direct Measures

Instruments in which students demonstrate what they have achieved or learned related to explicitly stated learning outcomes. All involve the evaluation of actual student performance vis-à-vis stated learning outcomes.

  • Standardized tests
  • Locally developed tests
  • Essay tests
  • Projects
  • Juried exhibits
  • Oral presentations
  • Performance in internship

2. Indirect Measures

Measures which rely on perceptions or opinions about student learning.

  • Surveys (employer, alumni, student)
  • Exit interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Global indicators of student achievement (graduate rates, job placement rates)

3. Non-Measures

Sources of information that do not provide evidence of student achievement with respect to learning outcomes. Items that may not be related to program outcomes or may include factors irrelevant to measuring achievement.

  • Grades
  • GPA

From: Dennis Gallagher, Ph.D. Arcadia University/First Year Assessment List, 4/25/09