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Departments can assess the impact of a degree program upon students' behavior by examining the skills they bring to a performance event. Performance examinations refer to assessments that go beyond paper-and-pencil assessments of cognitive and attitudinal change. Many evaluations of behavioral change are characterized as "authentic assessments" because they focus on the behaviors, skills, and performances that students display in "real world" settings. Performance events are often used to assess psychomotor skills, but they can also be used to evaluate complex abilities, such as oral communication skills and laboratory methods. Several examples of performance examinations are listed below:

  • Music majors give recitals and are rated in terms of their technical and interpretive skills on several pieces.
  • Foreign language majors are rated in terms of their abilities to converse on a variety of topics.
  • Theatre majors are tested on their improvisational skills during a scene selected by their instructor.
  • Nursing majors are evaluated on their performance of a variety of medical procedures.
  • Chemistry majors are evaluated on their ability to synthesize a compound in the lab.
  • Philosophy majors are rated on their ability to present an historical overview of a particular epistemological problem.

An excellent chapter on the assessment of behavioral change through performance events can be found in: Nichol, J. O. (1995) A practitioner's handbook for institutional effectiveness and student outcomes assessment implementation. New York: Agathon Press