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Using Results

Once you have collected information on student demonstrations of learning and made sense of them (ideally using rubrics to make sure you are all on the same page), you come to the part of the assessment process that makes everything you’ve done up until now meaningful and useful. There are two general steps in making good use of assessment results: answering a series of questions and acting on the answers. Because your conversation as a department or program (or your individual reflection as a faculty member considering a specific course) is the most important part of the improvement process, both of these general steps are discussed here in terms of conversational prompts.

First, here are some conversational prompts for responding to your findings:

  • In plain English, what exactly did you find for each learning outcome you considered? Where were students strongest? Weakest?
  • Were your findings straightforward? Complex?
  • Were there any patterns about which students were stronger or weaker on which outcomes?
  • Do you have any sense of why students were stronger or weaker on different outcomes?
  • Do the findings point to any clear steps you can take, either through curricular changes or pedagogical changes, to improve student learning in the weaker areas?
  • Is there anything else interesting or useful about your findings?

Second, here are some conversational prompts for acting on answers to the above questions:

  • Knowing what steps you might take to improve student learning, how exactly might you go about taking them?
  • Are there any considerations that might make the steps more difficult to take? How can you respond to those considerations?
  • Who outside of your department or program (if anyone) would need to be involved in supporting your changes to improve student learning?
  • How quickly can you put these changes into effect? Could some of them go into effect more quickly than others?
  • How will you design future assessment so that you know whether your changes improved student learning?