Developing Action Plans (Closing the Loop)

Closing the loop occurs after all the reports have been generated and submitted.  Thus, there may be a propensity on the part of the faculty to ignore this step after they have spent a substantial amount of time on earlier steps.  However, closing the loop is an important step in the assessment cycle.  In closing the loop, the assessment team will lay out the plans for how the results of assessment are to be shared with the faculty.  They should also plan on the type of changes that may result based on assessment.  These changes may include changes in the curriculum, teaching materials, or mode of instruction.  In doing so, this last step is important in setting the goals for the next assessment cycle.

The findings of this process will lead to the plans for the next assessment cycle by a change in the assessment plan or the curriculum.  For example, if the report indicates that all the learning outcome benchmarks have been met, it may indicate that the benchmarks are low and need to be improved.  The change in the assessment plan could lead to a revision of learning outcomes, measurement approaches, data collection methods, benchmarks, or sampling.  The changes in curriculum may point to course delivery methods, prerequisites, course sequences, course content, or addition/deletion of courses.  The faculty may also decide to change the academic process by a revision of admission criteria, advising process, use of technology, change in personnel, or frequency or scheduling of courses.

Plan for Dissemination

The assessment committee should document a plan for dissemination and use of assessment results with the faculty members in the form of a formal presentation. This presentation can be conducted in a faculty meeting or through a faculty retreat.  It is recommended that the presentation take place prior to submission of the report to the Provost so that all the faculty members are agreeable to the report.

Action Plan

The assessment process will point out the percentage of students who perform at a select benchmark level. The criteria for success is met if the percentage of students performing at (or above) the benchmark is higher than what was specified in the benchmark. Invariably, it will take more than one assessment cycle to establish appropriate benchmarks.

An important point to consider in selecting benchmarks is that they should be reasonable in terms of students’ capabilities.  Benchmarks with too high or too low performance targets may not be as useful.  It is also important to emphasize that the faculty are made aware that the performance data is not to be used in evaluating the faculty members to ensure that the benchmark target is fair and unbiased.

Based on the review of performance, the benchmark may be adjusted for the next assessment cycle.  Another point of self-reflection could be to make sure that all the sections of different courses are consistent and to suggest possible improvement in the courses that may not have met the benchmark.

It will be a good goal to close the loop on each program learning outcome at least twice in each five year period.