Pre/Post testing is a useful method for measuring the "value-added" by a program of study. Students are given a test or assignment at the beginning of a course or program. To evaluate the level of student improvement, a similar test or assignment is administered at the end of the course or program. Pre-testing is not absolutely necessary in fields where it is reasonable to assume that students have not been exposed to the discipline's knowledge and skills. However, in most disciplines, it is helpful to collect baseline data in the form of pre-test results. Here are two hypothetical examples of pre/post assessment:
A Philosophy Department annually collects representative samples of students' initial and final essays for evaluation by a faculty panel. The panel evaluates the student's ability to compare and contrast other historical positions on the issue, state his or her position on the issue, and develop a persuasive argument.
At the beginning of their program, music majors are asked to play three pieces of contrasting styles. Student performances are rated according to a detailed rubric developed by a faculty panel. As a condition of graduating from the program, students are again asked to play three pieces that mirror the styles reflected in their initial assessment. Scores from the entering and exiting exams are compared to assess the technical and interpretive skills acquired in the program.