The Assessment Cycle at DU
The program assessment cycle at the University of Denver is aligned with the academic calendar, involving a significant number of faculty and staff who work to ensure the process focuses on improving student learning. The process is outlined as a six-step cycle below. At each step, faculty lead assessment work for reflecting on teaching and learning at the course and program level.
The Six Steps
During the past two years, the Office of Teaching and Learning has requested that reports be submitted through the Qualtrics survey platform. In their reports, assessment leaders share evidence and narratives regarding program work for the previous year. Reports are submitted with a cover letter from an academic supervisor, usually a department chair or associate dean.
* To learn more on how to submit your annual report, check out the Annual Assessment Report webpage.
Following submission, the Director of Academic Assessment and appropriate academic leaders offer constructive feedback for directions program leaders may take going forward. One way the Director of Academic Assessment offers feedback is by using a rubric to score each report on assessment qualities.
Through various formalized meetings and consultations, faculty work with academic leaders, including the Director of Academic Assessment, to interpret the feedback and data from the assessment report to discern the future of the program. This phase helps participants interpret and consider the various data points helpful to improving the program.
The discernment phase invites faculty and staff to devote time and effort to deciding how to proceed with findings from the collaboration stage. In this phase, participants make data-informed decisions about next steps for the program. For example, one program may decide to share narratives of student success in promotional materials. Another program may make curricular changes based on their findings. Curricular changes range from updating an assignment, changing a learning outcome, or rearranging course offerings. Each of these might require new processes or resources. In all cases, the significant work of assessment must take place for programs to decide how best to proceed.
After discerning the best next steps, each program should develop an implementation plan. For some, this will require working through university-related committees and councils. Others will need financial resources or assistance from departments to enact their goals. Whatever decisions are made, implementation is critical to track. “Closing the loop” is the process of tracking how assessment results are employed to improve student learning. Even as plans change, having an initial vision of how the discernment will be put into action is important for meaningful assessment growth.
Finally, as the next assessment report comes due, each program should review the previous report to check how their implementation has occurred. The review phase allows participants the opportunity to reflect on how decisions have affected student learning and the program’s future.