Assessment is a mechanism that allows us to measure the impact of our work at Washington University in St. Louis and to tell our story in a way that is systematic and compelling. These steps can help to serve as your guide to creating an assessment.
Step One: Identify Learning Outcomes
Ask yourself: what are the most important things a student should know or be able to do or demonstrate after completing your program?
As you answer this question for yourself, make the learning outcomes you identify as specific, focused and clear as possible. Importantly, the learning outcomes should be measurable.
Read more about learning outcomes in Writing Learning Outcomes for Your Programs/Services (PDF) from Michael Shutt, PhD.
Step Two: Ask the Right Questions
To determine which questions to include in your assessment, ask yourself: What decisions need to be made? What information do we need to inform these decisions?
In your survey, start with questions that are easy to answer, straightforward and uncomplicated. Such questions may include: year in school, academic major or other factual information. Place sensitive information later in the assessment.
To learn more how to write good survey questions, sign up for the Assessment 101 workshop.
Step Three: Create Your Assessment Instrument
Online surveys are a fast and inexpensive way to collect a lot of data. Washington University subscribes to Campus Labs, an online survey provider that streamlines survey creation, administration and data analysis. Campus Labs automatically analyzes quantitative data and presents it in graphs that are easy to download or copy into presentations. This service is available to anyone collecting data relevant to undergraduate students at Washington University. Surveys can be created in Microsoft Word and uploaded to Campus Labs.
To learn more about the utility of Campus Labs, sign up for the Intro to Campus Labs workshop.
Step Four: Identify your participants and administer your assessment
Usually, you can get the information you are looking for by asking a small subset of the population instead of everyone. CAUSE now maintains a database that keeps track of which students are sent which surveys to minimize the frequency with which any individual student is sent a survey request.
To ensure that your assessment is not “competing” with others, upload your assessment to the assessment calendar and see what else is going out—and to whom—at that time.
Step Five: Analyze your data and report your findings
The final step in the assessment process is reviewing your data and gathering insights from what you have learned. If you would like guidance on what to do with your findings or practice talking about them, feel free to stop by a CAUSE meeting to get feedback from committee members. We meet every other Friday from 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.