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Assessing Class Climate Using Ascend

The Breakdown

A fundamental truth of any goal-oriented strategy is knowing whether or not your actions are bringing you closer to the goal or further from it. And to determine that, some form of assessment has to be in place. In the context of the classroom, we utilize a wide array of assignments and assessments, both formative and summative, to determine if students are learning the course content. However, we rarely assess the socio-emotional, motivational, and attitudinal factors that research shows are a key to successful learning and a significant predictor of equity gaps. The challenge, of course, is that while we, as faculty, typically have tremendous expertise and training in how to determine a course grade, we do not have the necessary tools and competencies to assess class climate.

PERTS Ascend Tool and Sample Data

PERTS Ascend


One solution is to take advantage of experts who have already done that work. In this case, those experts can be found at  PERTS (Project for Education Research that Scales) and their  online tool called Ascend . Ascend is a free online tool that allows faculty to assess class climate via variables such as students’ self-efficacy, social belonging, and identity safety, and then provides evidence-based suggestions to help improve these factors over time. Ascend provides detailed, course level reports that can also indicate equity gaps between structurally advantaged and non-advantaged students. Below is a snippet of an Ascend report on self-efficacy that is sent to participating faculty.