My department just got a small grant to work on assessment -- developing some mechanisms for working out what our students learn, and whether what they learn is what we want them to. The grant is for a pilot project that will focus specifically on two of our three large enrollment courses -- Intro to Philosophy (most of the students are first years, in Letters and Science) and Contemporary Moral Issues (most of the students are juniors and seniors, mostly from Business, or Letters and Science). We're going to do focus groups with faculty who regularly teach each class, to discuss what the course objectives are and how they generally assess whether the students meet those objectives. Then, with those objectives in mind, we plan to design a pre- and post-test (to be given very early in the semester and very late in the semester), which we'll use in all sections of the course in question. We are not aiming to use this to evaluate the professors -- but to find out whether what the students learn matches what we think we are teaching them. Because it is a pilot, of course, we'll be testing and getting ready to refine the instrument itself.
We also plan to gather together syllabuses, assignments, and run focus group discussions around grading practices (eg, by getting faculty to read several artifacts and assign grades, and discuss why they gave the grade they did).
It occurs to me that some of our readers might have experience -- and might even have existing examples of pre- and post-tests that they use in Intro Philosophy or courses similar to Contemporary Moral Issues. Any and all input on how we should go about this is welcome.