Steps to Developing an Assessment Plan

There are several steps to follow in creating a new or improved assessment plan:

  1. Examine the learning outcomes that have been outlined by the department for the course or program to be assessed (these should be taken directly from the master syllabus or program approval documents).

  2. Determine if the outcomes are still meaningful and relevant to the course. If an outcome is no longer relevant, consider revising or deleting it. Outcomes should reflect the most important things that the student will know or be able to do after completing the course.

  3. Select your assessment tool(s): methods or instruments for gathering evidence to show whether students have achieved the expected learning outcomes. Determine if there are existing data sources or tools that may be used or if new tools must be selected or developed. Consider embedded data already used for grading student performance. Make sure that the tool aligns with the verb that begins the outcome. Select those tools that seem most appropriate to the outcome and student population being assessed. For sample tools, see Sample Assessment Methods.

  4. Select the student population to be assessed (e.g. all students in all sections, random sample of 50% of students in all sections, all sections in a 3 year period, etc.). Best practices suggest that whenever possible, assessing all students in all sections will provide the best data. 

  5. Specify procedures for analyzing and interpreting the evidence gathered in assessment. Prior to administering assessments, create a scoring rubric or other method of evaluating results. Locate the standard of success (e.g. 75% of students will score 75% or higher on the outcome-related questions). Confirm that the standard of success aligns with the rubric or assessment results. For example, if using a 4 point rubric, student can achieve a score of 0 (0%) 1 (25%), 2 (50%), 3 (75%) or 4 (100%). It is not possible to score 70%.

  6. Determine how the information that results from assessment can be used for decision making, planning, and course/program evaluation and improvement. Develop means whereby involved faculty can review the data, make recommendations for change as appropriate, and incorporate such changes in master syllabus and the unit's planning cycle. Be sure to share the assessment results with appropriate full- and part-time faculty.