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Office of Assessment for Curricular Effectiveness Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement

Use of Assessment

Program assessment activities and results are intended to inform regular faculty reflection and discussion about effective teaching, learning, and curricula, and ultimately contribute to decision-making to support student learning.

Decisions may include intentionally choosing to continue current effective practices, making changes to the program, and/or building on the program’s existing strengths. Importantly, use of assessment can occur at any point in the process of collecting, analyzing, or discussing direct and/or indirect measures of student learning.

Value of Use of Assessment

Program assessment activities and results can provide valuable information to faculty and program leadership to assist in making informed decisions and taking actions to provide students with the best possible educational experience. While all forms of program assessment can provide useful information for program improvement, using assessment aligned with specific learning outcomes is crucial to supporting quality undergraduate curricula and student achievement.

In this context, using assessment to inform decision-making can:

  • Help programs demonstrate or build on academic strengths
  • Help programs set priorities for improvement and feasible action
  • Allow programs to act on matters of vital interest, including curriculum design, instructional practices, student development, and issues of equity
  • Support accountability to others (e.g, external accreditors) about educational quality and program improvements
  • Offer a meaningful and systematic collaborative process for shared decision-making and actions, with involvement from, and intentional consideration by, program faculty and leadership

Use of Assessment at WSU

WSU undergraduate degree programs are responsible for regularly using assessment activities and results to support decision-making related to curriculum, instruction, assignments, and program assessment processes. That is, program faculty are expected to use their assessment system to collect evidence related to student achievement of learning outcomes, which informs decisions about the design and delivery of high-quality undergraduate curricula.

As outlined in WSU’s Educational Policies and Procedures Manual (EPPM), WSU seeks to ensure that assessment occurs consistently and systematically and that its results contribute to university-wide planning that supports quality education. To underscore the value of genuine inquiry into student learning achievement that supports educational quality at WSU, the EPPM states that 1) assessment results identifying areas for improvement should be viewed positively, as an opportunity, and should never be used punitively; that 2) assessment results should not be used to evaluate an individual student, faculty member, or staff member; and that 3) assessment results by themselves should not be used for high-stakes decisions, such as program closure.

Use of Assessment Toolkit

The resources below are intended to help departments and programs as they consider their use of assessment. ACE is available to collaborate with undergraduate degree programs to facilitate faculty discussions related to using assessment to inform decision-making; contact us for additional information.

Sort by Type, Author, or Title to find what you need.

TypeAuthorTitleDescription
Quick GuideACE - WSUUsing Assessment DataPDF resource with good practices for considering how to use assessment data
Guiding QuestionsUniversity of Northern IowaOn Using Assessment Information and Closing the LoopPDF resource with a variety of questions to stimulate conversations and suggest starting points for action on information gained from assessment activities; divided into three sections: reflecting on assessment data, assessing the assessment, responding to the data
ExamplesVarious WSU ProgramsWSU Examples of Use of AssessmentWebpage featuring a selected sample of uses of assessment from WSU programs in various disciplines, collected annually since 2015

Additional Resources and Scholarship

Articles

Baker, G., et al. (2012). Using Assessment Results: Promising Practices of Institutions That Do It Well. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).

Jonson, J., et al. (2014). An Integrated Model of Influence: Use of Assessment Data in Higher Education. Research & Practice in Assessment.

Montenegro, E. & Jankowski, N. (2020). A New Decade for Assessment: Embedding Equity into Assessment Praxis (Occasional Paper No. 42). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).

Books

Note: Please contact ACE to borrow a book.

Suskie, L. (2018). Chapter 26: Using evidence of student learning to inform important decisions. In Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Walvoord, B. (2010). Assessment Clear and Simple: A Practical Guide for Institutions, Departments and General Education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Other

Suskie, L. Blog posts categorized ‘Sharing and Using Results’, A Common Sense Approach to Assessment in Higher Education Blog. Available at: https://www.lindasuskie.com/apps/blog