October 11, 2011

Procrastinate and Perish

As an experienced assessment professional, I often get calls to help institutions and/or programs with their student outcomes assessment plans as they are preparing for an accreditation visit.  Without exception (well, almost), my phone rings a year before the report is due.  Unfortunately this is an indication that this process is treated as an event instead of a process

A well-developed assessment plan is a continuous process.  This does not mean that you assess every outcome continuously.   What it does mean is that you have a systematic plan that enables you to smooth out of the workload over time.  There are well-defined cycles of data collection with defined timelines and areas of responsibility.  For example, if you have six learning outcomes and you have a three-year cycle, you would assess two outcomes every year.  This does not mean that there is no activity related to the outcomes for four more years.  To see an example of what a systematic cycle might look like, see an example table below:

Notice that data are collected in '10-11, evaluated in '11-12 and action taken with implementation of recommendations taken in '12-13 and a second cycle of data collection in '13-14.  The cycle is: outcomes defined into measurable statements (performance indicators), curriculum mapped, decision made about where to collect the data, data collected, evaluation of results and processes, recommendations for improvements, improvements designed and implemented, data collection. 

When last minute processes are developed, it becomes chaotic and puts an undue burden on faculty.  Also, it generally results in massive data collection which is difficult, if not impossible, to interpret.  Plan wisely!

1 comment:

mdshell said...

I agree that well developed assessment is continuous process.

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