Elements of Quality Assessment Plans

Essential Elements (Dimensions) of Quality Assessment Plans:

1.       Clear Expression: The report is organized and steps have a clear, coherent flow.  Projects are fully detailed and described, including why the assessments are important to the program and its students, how the assessments will be completed and by whom.  Analysis and improvements are fully developed and coherent given the data.

2.       Focus on Learning:  Overall, the value of the assessment project rises above merely meeting assessment responsibilities.  The projects clearly focus on knowledge, skills, and/or values that are important for students’ success in the major and their professional career.   The best projects dig into deep learning and assess higher order skills, such as students’ ability to apply knowledge, synthesize, evaluate, or create meaning.  The assessment results will be shared with the students and will help students develop and improve. 

3.       Creativity of the Assessment Projects:  At least one project involves unusual, but relevant, methods.  For instance, the assessment might involve a new project that will dig into deep learning or projects that help students take ownership for their learning or evaluation that uses highly qualified outsiders such as advisory committee members or experts in the field.  The improvement plans might lead to new ways of teaching and/or gathering evidence of student learning.

4.       Collaboration: The assessment activities are clearly departmentally owned and have driven department conversations about improving learning and/or assessment methods.  For single-member departments, collaboration with advisory committee members or field experts strengthen the depth and quality of the assessment and student learning.

5.       Quality of the Analysis:  The analysis of the data is logical and does not leap to unsupported conclusions.  The analysis triangulates the evidence/data from multiple projects to strengthen the conclusions.  The analysis is deep enough to reveal the subtle possibilities of meaning without limiting its focus to minor points.

6.       Improvement Plans: Both the learning and assessment improvement plans clearly follow from and are supported by the data.  The learning improvement plans identify some new ways to instruct students and develop their learning and skills, especially methods that are cognitively more challenging for students.  The plans are coordinated with all the relevant department members.

7.       Closing the Loop: The report describes the integration of the improvement plans into the instructional and assessment processes, and the analysis section describes the impact of the improvements on student learning and assessment.

8.       Reflects Well on VU: This “overall” or “all-of-the-above” category that helps distinguish among the best of the programs.  This criterion considers the perspective of an outsider who might be reviewing the instruction, activities, and learning, and considers how the assessment report reveals the quality of instruction and learning.