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Closing the Loop. What to do when your assessment data are in. Step 8: Revise the Assessment Plan and Continue the Loop. Step 7: Close the Loop (Use the Results). Step 1: Identify Program Goals. Cycle of Assessment. Step 2: Specify Intended Learning Outcomes (Objectives). Step 6:

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Closing the Loop


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    1. Closing the Loop What to do when your assessment data are in Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    2. Step 8: Revise the Assessment Plan and Continue the Loop Step 7: Close the Loop (Use the Results) Step 1: Identify Program Goals Cycle of Assessment Step 2: Specify Intended Learning Outcomes (Objectives) Step 6: Report Findings And Conclusions Step 3: Select Assessment Methods Step 5: Analyze and Interpret the Data: (Make Sense of It All) Step 4: Implement: Data Collection

    3. Assessment Methods Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    4. Assessment Methods Used at SNC • Examination of student work • Capstone projects • Essays, papers, oral presentations • Scholarly presentations or publications • Portfolios • Locally developed examinations • Major field or licensure tests • Measures of professional activity • Performance at internship, placement, sites • Supervisor evaluations • Miscellaneous Indirect Measures • Satisfaction/evaluation questionnaires • Placement analysis (graduate or professional school, employment) Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    5. Other Methods Used • Faculty review of the curriculum • Curriculum audit • Analysis of existing program requirements • External review of curriculum • Analysis of course/program enrollment, drop-out rates Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    6. What to Know About Methods • Notice that different assessment methods may yield different estimates of program success • Measures of student self-reported abilities and student satisfaction may yield different estimates of program success than measures of student knowledge or student performance • What are your experiences here at SNC? • Good assessment practice involves use of multiple methods; multiple methods provide greater opportunities to use findings to improve learning Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    7. What to Know About Methods • Even if the question is simply… • Are students performing… • …way better than good enough? • …good enough? • …NOT good enough? • The answer may depend on the assessment method used to answer that question Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    8. Implementation Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    9. Implementation • Common Problems • Methodological problems • Instrument in development; method misaligned with program goals • Human or administrative error • Response/participation rate problems • Insufficient numbers (few majors; reliance on volunteers, convenience sample; poor response rate); insufficient incentives, motivation • High “costs” of administration • “Other” (no assessment, no rationale) • NOTE: Document the problems; provides one set of directions for ‘closing the loop’ Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    10. Document Your Work! • “If you didn’t document it, it never happened…” The clinician’s mantra Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    11. Analyzing and Interpreting Data Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    12. Analyzing and Interpreting Data • General Issues • Think about how information will be examined, what comparisons will be made, even before the data are collected • Provide Descriptive information • Percentages (‘strongly improved’, ‘very satisfied’) • Means, medians on examinations • Summaries of scores on products, performances • Provide Comparative information • External norms, local norms, comparisons to previous findings • Comparisons to Division, College norms • Subgroup data (students in various concentrations within program; year in program) Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    13. Interpretations • Identify patterns of strength • Identify patterns of weakness • Seek agreement about innovations, changes in educational practice, curricular sequencing, advising, etc. that program staff believe will improve learning Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    14. Ways to Develop Targeted Interpretations • What questions are most important to you? What’s the story you want to tell? • helps you decide how you want results analyzed • Seek results reported against your criteria and standards of judgment so you can discern patterns of achievement Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    15. Interpreting Results in Relation to Standards • Some programs establish target criteria • Examples • If the program is effective, then 70% of portfolios evaluated will be judged “Good” or “Very good” in design • The average alumni rating of the program’s overall effectiveness will be at least 4.5 on a 5.0-point scale Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    16. Standards and Results:Four Basic Relationships • Four broad relationships are possible: • A standard was established that students met • A standard was established that students did not meet • No standard was established • The planned assessment was not conducted or not possible • Some drawbacks to establishing target criteria • Difficulties in picking the target number • Results exceeding standard do not justify inaction • Results not meeting standard do not represent failure Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    17. Reporting Results Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    18. Reporting Assessment Findings • Resources • An Assessment Workbook • Ball State University • Another Assessment Handbook • Skidmore College • An important general consideration: • Who is your audience? Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    19. Sample Report Formats • Skidmore College • Old Dominion University • Ohio University • George Mason University • Montana State University (History) • Other programs • Institutional Effectiveness Associates, Inc. Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    20. Local Examples of Assessment Reports • Academic Affairs Divisions • Division of Humanities and Fine Arts • Division of Natural Sciences • Division of Social Sciences • Student Life • Mission and Heritage Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    21. OK, but just HOW do I report… • Q: How to report…. • Survey findings, Major Field Test data, Performance on Scoring Rubrics, etc. • A: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel • Consult local Assessment and Program Review reports for examples Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    22. Closing the Loop:Using Assessment Results Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    23. Closing the Loop: The Key Step • To be meaningful, assessment results must be studied, interpreted, and used • Using the results is called “closing the loop” • We conduct outcomes assessment because the findings can be used to improve our programs Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    24. Closing the Loop • Where assessment and evaluation come together… • Assessment: • Gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information about student learning • Evaluation • Using assessment findings to improve institutions, divisions, and departments • Upcraft and Schuh Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    25. Why Close the Loop? • To Inform Program Review • To Inform Planning and Budgeting • To Improve Teaching and Learning • To Promote Continuous Improvement (rather than ‘inspection at the end’) Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    26. Steps in Closing the Assessment Loop • Briefly report methodology for each outcome • Document where the students are meeting the intended outcome • Document where they are not meeting the outcome • Document decisions made to improve the program and assessment plan • Refine assessment method and repeat process after proper time for implementation Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    27. Ways to Close the Loop • Curricular design and sequencing • Restriction on navigation of the curriculum • Weaving more of “x” across the curriculum • Increasing opportunities to learn “x” Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    28. Additional Ways to Close the Loop • Strengthening advising • Co-designing curriculum and co-curriculum • Development of new model of teaching and learning based on research or others’ practice • Development of learning modules or self-paced learning to address typical learning obstacles Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    29. And don’t forget… • A commonly reported use of results is to refine the assessment process itself • New or refined instruments • Improved methods of data collection (instructions, incentives, timing, setting, etc.) • Changes in participant sample • Re-assess to determine the efficacy of these changes in enhancing student learning. Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    30. A Cautionary Tale • Beware the Lake Woebegone Effect • …where all the children are above average… Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    31. A Cautionary Tale • When concluding that… no changes are necessary at this time… • Standards may have been met but… • There may nonetheless be many students failing to meet expectations • How might they be helped to perform better? • There may nonetheless be ways to improve the program Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    32. Facilitating Use of Findings • Laying Appropriate Groundwork • Assessment infrastructure • Conducive policies • Linking assessment to other internal proceses • (e.g., planning, budgeting, program review, etc,) • Establish an annual assessment calendar Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    33. Factors that Discourage Use of Findings • Failure to inform relevant individuals about purposes and scope of assessment projects • Raising concerns and obstacles over unimportant issues • Competing agendas and lack of sufficient resources Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    34. What You Can Do (Fulks, 2004) • Schedule time to record data directly after completing the assessment. • Prepare a simple table or chart to record results. • Think about the meaning of these data and write down your conclusions. • Take the opportunity to share your findings with other faculty in your area as well in those in other areas. • Share the findings with students, if appropriate. • Report on the data and what you have learned at discipline and institutional meetings. Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    35. Group Practices that Enhance Use of Findings • Disciplinary groups’ interpretation of results • Cross-disciplinary groups’ interpretation of results (library and information resource professionals, student affairs professionals) • Integration of students, TAs, internship advisors or others who contribute to students’ learning Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    36. External Examples of Closing the Loop • University of Washington • Virginia Polytechnic University • St. Cloud State University • Montana State University (Chemistry) Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    37. Closing the Loop:Good News! • Many programs at SNC have used their results to make program improvements or to refine their assessment procedures Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    38. Local Examples of Closing the Loop • See HLC Focused Visit Progress Report Narrative on OIE Website • See Program Assessment Reports and Program Review Reports on OIE Website Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    39. Ask your colleagues in … about their efforts to close the loop • Music • Religious Studies • Chemistry • Geology • Business Administration • Economics • Teacher Education • Student Life • Mission and Heritage • Etc. Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    40. One Example of Closing the Loop • Psychology • Added capstone in light of curriculum audit • Piloting changes to course pedagogy to improve performance on General Education assessment • Established PsycNews in response to student concerns about career/graduate study preparation • Replaced pre-test Major Field Test administration with a lower cost, reliable and valid externally developed test Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    41. Conclusions Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    42. Conclusions • Programs are relatively free to choose which aspects of student learning they wish to assess • Assessing and reporting matter, but . . . • Taking action on the basis of good information about real questions is the best reason for doing assessment

    43. Conclusions • The main thing… • …is to keep the main thing… • …the main thing! Douglas Eder, SIU-E Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    44. Conclusions • It may be premature to discourage the use of any method • It may be premature to establish a specific target criteria • It may be premature to require strict adherence to a particular reporting format • Remember that sample reports discussed here are examples not necessarily models Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    45. Oh, and by the way…Document Your Work! Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    46. Additional Resources • Internet Resources for Higher Education Outcomes Assessment (at NC State) Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.

    47. Concluding Q & A:A One-Minute paper • What remains most unclear or confusing to you about closing the loop at this point? Raymond M. Zurawski, Ph.D.