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, building on the program’s existing strengths, and/or making changes to the program. Importantly, use of assessment can occur at any point in the process of collecting, analyzing, or discussing direct and/or indirect assessment.

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 of specific program-level student learning outcomes to inform decision-making 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 performance on program-level student learning outcomes to inform decisions about the design and delivery of high-quality undergraduate curricula.

As outlined in WSU’s Educational Policies and Procedures Manual (PDF), 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 Educational Policies and Procedures Manual 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 programs and faculty 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.

Quick GuideACE - WSUQuick Guide to Using Assessment to Inform Decision-making (PDF)Resource intended to help WSU programs and faculty consider good practices for using assessment to inform decision-making
Guiding QuestionsUniversity of Northern IowaOn Using Assessment Information and Closing the Loop (PDF)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


Baker, G., et al. (2012). Using Assessment Results: Promising Practices of Institutions That Do It Well (PDF). 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 (PDF). Research & Practice in Assessment.

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


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.


Suskie, L. Blog posts categorized ‘Sharing and Using Results’, A Common Sense Approach to Assessment in Higher Education Blog.