Writing the Use of Results
In writing the “use of results”, there are essential steps that should be considered before determining what actions should be taken to improve the program or learning assessed. Below are helpful hints that may be useful in guiding faculty and staff in determining how to use the data collected to improve the program and/or services offered.
Step 1: Have a Department Meeting (Where Applicable)
Gather the members of the department to review the data and determine a “sustainable, reasonable course of action to improve student learning” and/or the program (Walvoord, 2010, p. 69). Make sense of the assessment results and try grouping the data by theme when data is collected from multiple measures or assessment methods (Jankowski, 2013)
Step 2: Determine the Focus of Improvement
As a team, based on the results, determine what should be the focus of improvement. That is, examine the data for areas of importance to the unit, areas that show the greatest need for improvement, and areas that are currently feasible to improve. It is also important to review the results for any “bad” or erroneous data that was possibly collected.
Step three includes questions that facilitates defining a focus.
Step 3: Questions to Consider
How can the department improve the areas identified?
Did the data reveal areas where performance is somewhat acceptable, but a higher level of performance is desired or needed?
Will additional information (data) be needed before actual improvement actions can be determined? (Walvoord, 2010)
What trends have been examined and what do they reveal?
Are additional assessment methods necessary? Did the assessment method used provide useful data that can be used to improve the program?
Does the department need to review best practices or the literature to determine how to improve the program?
Questions Specific to Student Learning Outcomes
What does the data say about student’s mastery of the subject matter? (Southeast Missouri State University, n.d.)
Where in the curriculum are students receiving instruction and practice about these concepts? (Walvoord, 2010)
Does the curriculum need to be adjusted in order that students learn these particular concepts? Does the program have enough data to make this determination?
Does the data reveal a lack of core or fundamental skills that students need for mastery of the outcome assessed (e.g., critical thinking, oral communication, written communication, quantitative reasoning, etc.)?
What do the data say about your students’ preparation for taking the next step in their careers? (Southeast Missouri State University, n.d.)
Step 4: Write the Use of Results
After carefully reviewing pertinent questions in “Step 3”, determine what actions are needed to improve the program. Essentially, this is using the information from the answered questions to determine your response.
For example, if the department determines that additional information or assessment is needed before improvement actions can be identified or implemented, this should be thoroughly discussed in the narrative for the “use of results”. Details should be provided that includes what will be done, when it will be done, and how it will be done.
Likewise, if data has been reviewed and clear actions have been determined by the department, this should be delineated in the narrative for the “use of results”.
All write-ups or narratives for the “use of results” should include 1) the specific action to be taken (e.g., curriculum change, service adjustment, professional development, etc.), 2) when it will be taken—that is, a timeframe, and 3) how the action will be taken. A mature action plan also includes a feedback mechanism.
Jankowski, N. (2013). Showing an impact: Using assessment results to improve student learning. Retrieved from National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment website http://www.learningoutcomesassessment