Closing the Loop
Keeping your department’s resources in mind, you can now begin to think about which actions would be most feasible to enhance student learning. You must first establish a timeline and a means to evaluate your actions. In most cases, this will take several years, so recording your department’s assessment meetings will be vital for future assessment practices. Recording your assessment practices will be useful for both internal and external uses. Additionally, you want to be able to tell a story about your department’s program so as to clarify what follow-up actions your department has taken to improve student learning. This narrative will inform future participants in your academic program that can further add to your department’s assessment story.
In order to establish if your actions have improved student learning, your department must take action and follow-up on the efficacy of the implemented changes. Keep in mind that learning is fluid, and so are the variables that make up the assessment cycle. For example, faculty turnover makes it important to have the recorded narrative of your department’s assessment practices so that any faculty member can pick up where your department has previously left off. Other factors that may change include institutional requirements, the students, leadership, or funding. For all these reasons, it is vital for your department to decide which evidence is best to include in your records, and which actions are most feasible to improve student learning. Once these actions have been taken, your department must evaluate the efficacy of those actions to assess whether the changes had the intended results. Follow-up action doesn't necessarily mean drastic change, but rather an ongoing attention to those actions.
The ideal actions from the assessment process include faculty development, policy adjustments, curriculum changes, or restricting academic programs. However, the assessment process can also include drawbacks if no actions are taken following compliance with external demands. Don’t overcomplicate the process or gather data with no follow-up actions. Remember that the assessment process should be feasible and accessible to every participant in the department.
Reference: Walvoord, 2010