Closing the Loop: Using Assessment for Program Improvement

The ultimate payoff of assessment is helping departments improve their educational programs so that student learning is enhanced.  Indeed, assessment is not complete until the findings have been used for program improvement.  Yet “closing the loop” is arguably the most challenging phase of the assessment process.

Unfortunately, there is no single prescription for using assessment results effectively.  The most effective approach will depend on the structure, processes, and culture of a department and program.  Nevertheless, here are some general steps to keep in mind as you proceed:

  • Summarize assessment findings in ways that make them meaningful and understandable.  In particular, make clear how student performance compares with the targets.
  • Share assessment findings with interested/relevant program faculty and other stakeholders.  These might include an assessment committee or all program faculty.
  • Discuss: Provide structured opportunities for discussion of the assessment results.  For example, you might make assessment a regular agenda item at meetings of program faculty
  • Plan: Develop ideas and proposals for revising learning goals and objectives, the program curriculum, teaching methods, assessment methods, etc.  Clear assessment results can be used to support request for resources.
  • Act!