assessment Basics:

The Assessment Cycle

Most assessment plans follow the same general steps in an iterative cycle which repeats several times before reestablishing outcomes. Here is the cycle and steps that we follow at Arkansas Tech University. 

Assessment Cycle

Develop or review your program or department mission.

  • Understanding your mission and how it aligns with or helps to fulfill the university mission is an important first step in the assessment process. 
  • In the case of:
    • operational assessment: What do you want to achieve in your program,  department, office, or unit?
    • student learning assessment, what do you want students to know or be able to do?  
  • Write outcomes that align with or help to fulfill the department/program and university missions and strategic plans. 
  • This step in the process is the most important because without aligned measurable outcomes, you will not have meaningful assessment results. 
  • Review the mission and outcomes every 4-5 years during your scheduled program review cycle. 

See Academy Module: Writing Effective Outcomes

Develop or review your program or departmental outcomes, measures, and targets for success.

  • The assessment plan includes outcomes, measures, and targets for success.
  • What course, lesson, activity, program, or service will you use to achieve your outcome? 
  • When will it take place?
  • What tool will you use to gauge progress toward achieving the outcome?
  • At ATU, we use an online program called Weave to document this process. Enter your plan as a project in Weave

See Academy Module: Developing Measures and Targets

Provide program/service and collect evidence.

  • Provide the course, lesson, actvitiy, program, or service that is meant to achieve the outcome. 
  • Measure the results. This data is your evidence, so be sure to put it in a form that can be analyzed. 

Organize, analyze, and interpret the results of your measurements. 

  • Meet with assessment team or committee to discuss results.
  • Did you achieve your outcomes? How do you know?
  • Document your findings in Weave. Mark each outcome as “Exceeded", "Met", "Partially Met", or "Not Met" based on the results. 
  • What could have gone better? What should be changed for the next cycle?

See Academy Module: Assessment Data

Make evidence-based decisions to improve.

  • Determine next actions based on last year’s assessment findings.
  • Document the process, the outcomes and evidence, and the action plan for improvement in Weave.
  • This step completes the assessment report, which includes your outcomes, measures, targets, analysis and interpretation of results, plans for improvement, and evidence files to support your findings. 

Incorporate the changes informed by last year’s data into the upcoming year’s assessment plan.

  • Incorporate changes into your Weave project for the next year.
  • Identify or update measures and targets.
  • Assign responsible parties for each outcome.

See Academy Module: Closing the Assessment Loop




Assessment Basics

  1. What is Assessment? 
  2. The Assessment Plan
  3. Misconceptions
  4. Review
  5. Quiz

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