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Doing assessment and using assessment results can sometimes be separate acts.  A well-developed assessment plan may appear to focus a great deal on collecting data.  However, responding to the data is the key to a successful assessment process.  This vital process of using results to celebrate success or identify areas for improvement is often referred to as “closing the loop.” (Maki, 2004; Bresciani, Zelna, & Anderson, 2006).
 
After data have been collected according to plan, programs must document how they are using the results to identify strengths and make program improvements. Some examples of how programs make use of assessment data include, but are not limited to:
  • Regular reports on the assessment data at faculty or staff meetings.
  • An assessment committee or the curriculum committee may be charged with reviewing the data and facilitating a discussion about the results.
  • Students or external constituencies may be offered a chance to respond to the findings.
  • Program administrators support the assessment process by requesting evidence of improvements. 
Your program’s intended uses of data should be shared with faculty, staff, administrators, and students. Also document through a separate report, the Annual Report or meeting minutes the discussions that have occurred as a result of assessment efforts in your program. Keep the process moving.
 
There are other considerations when selecting assessment methods that match with intended learning outcomes.
    • Time
When can students be expected to demonstrate their knowledge on the intended outcome? At what intervals is it appropriate and manageable to collect information from a wide range of students? Does the timing of data collection allow your program an opportunity to make adjustments or improvements that could benefit students prior to their graduation?
 
Who will be responsible for collecting the data and when?
 
While assessment is the responsibility of all faculty in a program, the preparation and collection of data may be assigned to a smaller group. Who will handle these tasks and when are key tasks expected to be completed?
    • Validity and Reliability
Are the measures of assessment valid?  Do the assessment methods measure what we want them to measure (i.e. our outcomes)? Do these assessment measures allow us to make strong conclusions about our outcomes?
 
Are they reliable? Will they generate consistent results from year to year?
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