Collecting & Analyzing Data

Once an assessment is complete, the next step is to collect and analyze the data. Since the goal of assessment is improvement at the course and program level, not evaluation of individual faculty members, it is recommended that assessment data be reported to the department at the course level (as opposed to the section level). If there is only one section of a course taught each semester, a department may want to collect several semesters’ worth of data before combining it at the course level for reflection and action planning.

Assessment data should lead to dialogue and affect decision-making for each department. After assessment data is available, departments should discuss improvements to the course and/or program suggested by the assessment data.

Just as departments should involve as many faculty as possible in planning the assessment (full-time and part-time), departments should plan time to discuss and analyze the results that will allow for maximum participation.

  • Consider using department meeting or retreat time
  • Use FLEX hours when possible
  • Consider online collaboration options
  • Communicate through email (or hard copies of handouts in mailboxes) with those not able to attend
  • Post assessments onUse departmental SLO webpages for planning and sharing information

As your department considers the assessment data, you might ask yourself questions such as these:

If the number of students meeting the SLO is not consistent with the expected results listed in the assessment plan, why do you think that might be?

  • Was the expected results number set at an appropriate level?
  • Would a different assessment tool be a better measure of student learning?
  • Should follow-up assessments try to target specific, smaller skills needed to achieve the SLO to help determine where students are having difficulty?
  • What could be changed about the course or program to improve student learning?
  • Should pacing or emphasis within a course or program be adjusted?
  • Should there be changes to student resources or services?
  • Are there additional resources that would help to improve student learning?

If the number meets or exceeds the expected result, what factors do you think contributed to student success in meeting the SLO?

  • How might these factors be brought to positively impact other courses and programs?
  • Are there relative weaknesses among specific, smaller skills needed to achieve the SLO? If so, how could learning be improved in those areas?
  • Does the department want to consider a different assessment tool the next time the course is assessed to get a different kind of data about student learning?
  • Should the expected result be set higher the next time the course is assessed?

Regardless of the results, how will these results inform other decisions for the department?

  • How do the results of this assessment fit into the larger picture of the program or department?
  • Is there a need for professional development on specific topics?
  • Should budgeting priorities change?
  • Should staffing or other resources be adjusted?
  • Do the results inspire other ideas for improvements?

 

It is important to allow enough time for brainstorming and discussion – dialogue and inquiry are the most important parts of the SLO process, so this stage should not be rushed.

Keep in mind that accreditation standards do not suggest that if the assessment process reveals that some outcomes are not being met by a number of students, the institution or instructor will be punished. Rather, it requires that the information gained through the assessment process be used to improve teaching and learning.

This is how the loop is closed: faculty return to the student learning outcomes and reassess them and the teaching and learning process, making appropriate adjustments based on the specific knowledge of how well students are meeting the outcomes.