Writing Assessment Results
In writing assessment results, there are essential components that should be included in the narrative to ensure that a complete record of assessment activity is available for decision-support. Below are helpful hints that may be useful in guiding faculty and staff in analyzing and interpreting data and writing the narrative.
Step 1: Gather Materials
Gather the raw data from the assessment instrument (e.g., rubric, survey, examination, etc.) that was administered. Conduct a data analysis.
Step 2: Analyze and Interpret the Data
Analyzing and interpreting the data provides departments or units with an idea of their performance in the area measured. Analyze the data from the lens of why the assessment was conducted. Ask questions like, what are the strengths, what are the weaknesses, what are the needs.
Step 3: Write the Results
In writing the results, be sure to include the following information in your write-up or narrative. These items are not included in any particular order of relevance.
I. Achievement of Benchmark: Clearly state at the beginning of the narrative if the established benchmark was achieved. For example, if the benchmark was “70 percent of the students will score at the ‘acceptable level’ or above in each category on the Research Process Rubric,” then indicate whether or not the benchmark was achieved. If it was not achieved, indicate such and provide the overall average or result.
II. Description of Participants: Include a brief description of the participants (i.e., who they are, how many participated, etc.) in the narrative. For example, if a survey was administered, indicate the number of participants the survey was administered to (if available) and the number of participants who returned the survey. Likewise, if the assessment measure was an exam, indicate how many participants took the exam. If any results were discarded for a participant(s), indicate such. As the assessor, determine what other information will be useful in interpreting the assessment results.
III. Assessment Methodology: Briefly state how the assessment measure was used to assess the outcome. For example, if a rubric was used as the assessment measure for a research paper, succinctly describe the assessment process (i.e., origin of the papers, number of assessors or scorers, process for scoring, how and when the data was collected (if substantive and applicable), etc.). Note, when routine, this information can be included when describing the assessment measure and can typically be summarized in one or two sentences.
IV. Highlight Findings: Discuss the assessment results in relationship to the benchmark. That is, what is the expected or desired performance level and what were the actual results. In addition, the basic results of the assessment measure should be included in the narrative. For example, if a rubric was used to assess a student learning outcome (SLO), student performance in each rubric category germane to the SLO should be included in the narrative. The level of detail to be included in the results narrative beyond this should be determined by the assessor. Consider the following in making this determination:
a. Previous assessment/trend data: if an outcome has been previously assessed, the trend data should be briefly mentioned in the narrative. For example, if a survey has been administered over the past two years, this data can be mentioned in the narrative in relationship to the current results.
b. Outliers: perhaps the benchmark was achieved, but through the analysis of data, the assessor identified data that were outliers or anomalies. Some examples include a content area where student performance was considerably low or high, a test question(s) in which all students got correct or incorrect, a survey item that each participant rated poorly, etc.