Assessment plans are developed by academic units (schools, departments, programs) with the support, as needed, of the Office of Academic Assessment. Why develop an assessment plan? In general, most endeavors are more successful if they are clearly outlined and planned in advance. Assessment is no different.
An assessment plan and resulting assessment reports can serve a number of functions:
Valuable information can be lost as members of the department change roles, go on sabbatical, move to another university, retire or simply not recall the challenges, successes, explanations for decisions, solutions to problems, etc. that have occurred through the assessment process. Assessment plans and reports document these processes for future members and leaders of the department.
An assessment plan allows all departmental members to share an understanding of the department’s assessment vision. Faculty can comment on and question the plan from an informed standpoint. Faculty are aware of how their courses and educational practices fit in with the rest of the curriculum and what their roles are with regard to assessment.
An assessment plan is an efficient means of communicating a department's assessment activities and educational practices to new and adjunct faculty.These faculty do not need to wait for a committee meeting nor do they need torely on piecemeal information which may leave them with an incomplete or inaccurate depiction of the department's assessment activities.
Departments can share their assessment plans with each other and, in doing so, share successful approaches to assessment, creative solutions to overcoming obstacles to assessment, innovative changes made to curriculum and instruction to improve student learning, etc.
An assessment plan demonstrates to accrediting and funding agencies, parents, students and others that the department has thought through the assessment process and is committed to assessing student learning and to improving the teaching and learning process in the school or department. Assessment reports document evidence of student learning as well as the improvements that have been made to educational opportunities.
Directly linked to an institution's mission and learning goals, academic assessment is the process of researching how well educational programs and opportunities are working to promote student learning, development, and growth. Academic assessment is the process of collecting, analyzing, and using information to determine if students are actually learning the intended objectives of the courses, programs, and schools in which they are enrolled.
Regardless of the scope or topic, all assessment plans include three primary stages: identifying the student learning goals (objectives), collecting and assessing information to see how well the goals are being met, and taking action as a result of the new information gleamed from the research. An assessment is NOT complete without this final "feedback loop," where results are directly used to inform decision-making.
Every institution must clarify for itself an appropriate assessment program, based on its own mission and learning goals. Programs within institutions must similarly craft appropriate assessment plans that link to institution, school, and program goals. This means faculty and instructors remain the key actors involved in the design and implementation of course and program-level academic assessment.
Developing an assessment plan is an ordered, multi-step process: