The final step of the cycle is to use the interpreted results of the assessment to improve the academic program. These program changes must be directly tied to the results of the assessment.
Using Results to Identify Needed Program Improvements
If the original assessment has been well designed, it will likely identify one or more general areas where the program could be improved. Either the original assessment or possible follow-up studies will suggest the specific concerns that need to be addressed. The question to be answered, then, is How can we make it more likely that our students will achieve the intended learning outcomes in this area?
Assessment results can point the way, and they can suggest specific improvements that might be helpful. Ultimately, however, faculty members and administrators must come to a decision that balances the original intended learning outcomes, the available resources (time, money, classroom space, etc.), and the other competing priorities of the program and the college.
When assessment results are used to make improvements in programs, this begins a new cycle of assessment. After the program change has had a chance to take full effect, a new assessment is conducted, beginning (as before) with confirming the original mission statement and intended learning outcomes, and proceeding through evidence collection, interpretation of results, and any further modifications of the program that are indicated by the second round of assessment. Depending on the nature of any program changes, the time elapsed between the completion of the first assessment cycle and the beginning of the second may be as short as one semester or as long as a few years.
Last Modified: October 19, 2012