Review Assessments and Determine Improvements

Once the assessment data is collected, it should be shared broadly with program faculty who will decide if the results indicate the need for modifications to the program. In cases where students have not met performance targets, the faculty decide what specific modifications may lead to improved learning.

Negative assessment results may be rooted in the learning objectives, the learning opportunities, or the assessment itself. For example, you may determine that the program objective needs improvement, or perhaps isn’t really important after all. In this case, your strategy would be to re-write, replace or delete the objective. Or, you may hypothesize that the objective isn’t being properly addressed in the course(s). Perhaps students aren’t getting enough practice, for example, or there isn’t enough emphasis by an instructor. Alternatively, it may be that the assessment itself is not constructed in a way that best addresses the objective. Perhaps the assignment directions and/or rubric need to be revised. For multiple choice questions, it isn’t uncommon for test questions to be worded in a way that results in many students missing the question even if they know the material. Item-writing rules, can be helpful when constructing a multiple-choice test. Analyzing test questions can be done using a statistical procedure called item analysis.

Negative results may also be a result of program policies or lack of adherence to policies. For example, if pre-requisites are not being adhered to, students may be moving through the curriculum unprepared.

Articulating specific modifications, such as including an additional assignment in a specific course to address a gap in student knowledge, is better than a vague idea such as “improve the way a topic is taught.”

If students have met expectations at the current level, faculty could choose to assess another PLO the next year. If, however, students are not meeting expectations, faculty may choose to assess in an earlier course to determine the point in the program where students may not be getting the practice needed to master the knowledge or skill.