Designing an Assessment Plan

When we conduct assessments, we may want to start by developing survey questions or collecting data. To be effective, it is important to take a broader view and consider the purpose and significance of what you hope to accomplish. The following guide can assist you in planning your assessment.

  1. Why is this assessment important? We engage in assessment for a variety of reasons: to understand student learning, improve teaching, or for accountability purposes such as accreditation.
    1. What are the benefits of completing this assessment?
    2. What circumstances, contexts, pressures may be influencing the assessment?
  2. What is the purpose of conducting the assessment?
    1. What do you hope to know or learn as a result of conducting the assessment? Simply stated, answer this question, “The purpose of my assessment is….”
    2. Do you think you will plan to present or publish these results outside of your department or institution? If so, seek assistance from the Iowa State University Institutional Review Board to understand if you need to IRB approval before conducting your assessment.
  3. Given the purpose of the assessment, what are the critical questions to be answered or what are the key learning outcomes to be measured?
    1. Develop 2-4 questions that are related to the purpose.
    2. Keys to writing strong questions/learning outcomes. For assistance in developing strong learning outcomes, review CELT’s Tips on Writing Course Goals/Learning Outcomes and Measurable Learning Objectives webpage.
  4. Who or what should be assessed?
    1. Most often assessment related to teaching and learning focuses on students or documents/artifacts produced by students.
    2. Who are our participants, sample, and population?
  5. What methods can best answer your assessment questions?
    1. Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods may all be used in assessment.
    2. Common quantitative methods include numeric data gathered from instruments, surveys, questionnaires, or existing data such as those from institutional databases.
    3. Common qualitative methods include interviews, focus groups, observations, and document analysis.
  6. What data will you collect? How will you collect the data?
    1. When developing your data collection method (i.e., survey, interview questions) it is important that your questions align with the purpose of your assessment.
  7. How will you store and analyze the data?
    1. What plans do you have to safely secure data you have collected?
    2. How do you plan to analyze the data? (Remember: Data analysis should also align with your assessment questions).
  8. What are your plans for reporting the data?
    1. How and with whom will you plan to share your results?
  9. What is your proposed timeline?
  10. What additional financial, personnel resources and expertise might you need to conduct a successful assessment? What are your plans for securing these resources?