Learning outcomes assessment serves two main purposes:
- It provides institutional accountability by demonstrating that major programs and other curricular areas engage in ongoing self-examination with an eye toward continuous improvement.
- It facilitates improvement by providing a factual basis for vibrant discussion, within curricular areas, about what works, what needs changing, and how change should proceed.
The first purpose can't be fully realized, and the second can't be realized at all, unless faculty reflect on the assessment results they gather in each assessment cycle.
When recording assessment results, then, it's essential to provide written reflection on these results that indicates, among other things:
- what, in the view of faculty who teach in this area, the results mean.
- what changes to the program faculty would consider making in light of assessment results.
- what changes have already been made in light of previous assessment results.
Changes faculty should consider in light of assessment results include:
- changes to the structure of a curricular area (e.g., the sequence of required courses in a major).
- changes to the content of courses (e.g., including a required unit on library research in XXXX 101).
- changes to learning outcomes (adding, deleting, modifying).
- changes to criteria for success.
Changes of this kind constitute ways of closing the assessment loop.
It would be absurd for a curricular area to be making constant changes. On the other hand, if, assessment cycle after assessment cycle, faculty reflection on assessment results amounts to "Everything's fine; our program is a success," chances are the assessment process is not being carried out in earnest.
Every program at Geneseo must write a self-study for its program review, conducted once every five years. The self-study is required to address student learning outcomes assessment in the program. At a minimum, programs should be able to describe, in each self-study, loop-closing actions taken since the previous self-study.