Interpreting the results
The assessment results are in and scores have been tabulated or the qualitative analysis of work is complete. What is the next step?
- The results now need to be interpreted. What do the results tell you? Are you satisfied with the evidence of student learning? What are the implications of the results for program improvement?
- The program should begin by consulting the benchmark set for expected student learning. For example, if it set a benchmark that 80 percent of students will score at the "meets the objective level or above," the first determination is to see whether that goal was met or not.
- The assessment reviewers should also consider whether the assignment(s) used were aligned fully with the learning outcomes: were the students invited to demonstrate their knowledge or abilities of the learning outcomes? If multiple faculty submitted different assignments, were they all equally aligned with the learning outcomes or were there some assignment characteristics that produced clearer results?
- The program may also consider whether all students were equally successful in the assessment. Perhaps the department had a question about transfer students' attainment compared to non-transfers.
- If the program may find that some results show need for improvement, it may benefit from reviewing the curriculum alignment map to see if there is a gap in introducing or reinforcing this learning objective.
- It is also important to reflect on the assessment itself: did it produce reliable and valid results? Do any changes need to be made?
Sharing and using the results
Assessment results are of most use when they are shared among faculty members and used as a tool for facilitating discussion about improving a curriculum or program. Some typical outcomes of assessment include:*
- Revisions in content of program courses
- Addition / deletion of courses or changes in course sequences
- Enhancements in advising processes
Departments may use assessment results also to:
- Facilitate curricular discussions at faculty meetings, curriculum committee meetings, and faculty retreats
- Guides changes in degree programs and the development of new degree program options
- Justify past curricular changes and show program improvement resulting from those changes
- Further refine assessment methods or implement new assessment methods
- Develop academic services for students
- Offer new career exploration and career services for students
- Enhance program recruiting literature and websites to provide students with academic and program information
- Share assessment information with alumni and program advisory boards
From National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, Using Assessment Results: Promising Practices of Institutions That Do It Well. (July 2012).