Cycle of Inquiry and Action

Cycle of Inquiry and Action

Academic assessment is both a systematic collection of information and a framework for focusing institutional attention on student learning. The Cycle of Inquiry and Action outlines the basic steps of how we use the assessment process to improve our programs. Each step of the cycle is described below with links to supporting documents and resources.

Identify Mission & Goals

Craft Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

  • Student learning outcomes describe what students in a particular program will master. SLOs are concise statements describing what we want students to know (knowledge), be able to do (skills) and care about (values). They are more specific than program goals and more general than course objectives.
  • Plan for what student learning outcomes will be assessed using the 5-Year Assessment Outline (Word).

Check Curriculum Alignment

  • A coherent curriculum provides students opportunities to internalize, practice, develop, and master the student learning outcomes.
  • Use a Curriculum Map (Word) to document in what courses students have an opportunity to show evidence of specific student learning outcomes and what level of student performance is anticipated.

Design Assessment Plan

Collect Data

  • Following the assessment plan, gather information that provides evidence of students achieving the learning outcomes.
  • Evidence can be either direct (products of actual work such as papers, presentations, test results, portfolios) or indirect (surveys, interviews, focus groups, reflective essays) measures of student learning. For data collection ideas refer to the Examples of Direct and Indirect Evidence (PDF).

Analyze Data and Reflect on Results

Take Action

  • This is where we close the loop between student learning outcomes and program change.
  • All our efforts have led to this step where we confirm effective practices already in place and change instruction, faculty development, program, courses, or policies to meet student needs.

Report to Stakeholders