High-stakes assessment is playing an increasingly important role in higher education at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels. Such assessments are sometimes used for group purposes—to assess how well a university is doing in educating its students—and other times for purposes of evaluating individuals. High-stakes assessment at the undergraduate level generally involves assessments of learning and reasoning at the end of the college experience. Sometimes, pretests are also given to compare cognitive skills before and after the college experience. There are several different approaches to measuring learning and performance outcomes: (a) standardized instruments and inventories; (b) indirect methods that focus on students’ perceptions of learning and engagement; (c) authentic performance-based methods, such as portfolios; and (d) locally designed tests and inventories. Each of these methods of assessment has different advantages as well as disadvantages. For example, standardized tests are normed, and thus it is possible to compare the performance of students at, say, one university to those at another. But standardized tests also measure outcomes that some scholars feel are less meaningful than the outcomes measured by other kinds of assessments. Indirect measures, such as of student engagement, look at students’ level of engagement with college but tell less about cognitive gains than some other kinds of measures. Performance-based measures such as portfolios have the advantage of measuring outcomes presumably relevant to each individual student; they are harder to score than some other kinds of measures, however, and they do not lend themselves readily to comparisons across colleges and universities. Homemade tests produced by individual institutions can be tailored to the goals of those institutions but generally lack the standardization and generality of some other kinds of measures. Assessments of graduate and postgraduate students are of a different ilk. Generally, graduate, postgraduate, and hiring institutions are looking for presumed research and teaching competence. Publication records as well as letters of recommendation serve as primary bases for evaluating students going onto the job market. It is possible to entertain more sophisticated measures than just counting publications, such as various measures based on citations in the scholarly literature.
Robert J. Sternberg
Frederick French and Carmel French
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by levels of inattention or hyperactivity and impulsivity that are developmentally inappropriate. ADHD affects approximately 3–12% of children, with more boys being diagnosed than girls. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders classifies ADHD as (1) combined inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity; (2) predominantly inattention; and (3) predominantly hyperactivity/impulsivity. Conversely, the International Classification of Diseases requires the presence of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity for a diagnosis of hyperkinetic disorder, the European label for ADHD. ADHD is a complex disorder that requires a rigorous diagnostic process that typically begins with a detailed family, developmental, medical, psychiatric, academic, and behavioral history. The next step involves a variety of assessments in areas including but not limited to neurological, intellectual, academic achievement, memory, attention, concentration, executive functioning, response inhibition, and behavior. One of the challenges in diagnosing ADHD is ruling out the nature of any comorbid conditions and ascertaining the primary condition should more than one secondary condition be identified. A variety of treatment and intervention approaches exist for children and youth with ADHD. The most common and most evidence-based approaches include the use of cognitive behavioral interventions, psychostimulant medication, or a combination of the two. In addition, a variety of instructional strategies have been found to be effective, particularly when combined with self-regulatory strategies, executive control, and active learner participation with a teacher or adult mediator. There is continuing debate as to whether learners with ADHD are better served in general classrooms or in more specialized settings. However, the solution is not to use one approach instead of the other. An effective program should meet the needs of learners using the appropriate combination of specialized supports and general classroom practices. Implementing such programs can place a lot of demand on individual teachers. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach is designed to support teachers in responding to diverse learning needs and to focus on the limitations of the classroom environment rather than on the limitations of the learner has been developed and is demonstrating promise. UDL incorporates differentiated instruction to focus on curricular design techniques that emphasize setting motivational factors pertinent to learning, finding alternative and interesting ways to represent the material to be learned, and enabling alternative ways for learners to express their knowledge. Combined with creating safe and supportive classrooms for all learners, UDL affords a more planful approach, so responding to learning differences is not seen as an add-on but as an integral component of the teaching/learning process that combines various tiers of instruction aimed at meeting a wider range of learner strengths and needs.