“Closing the loop”: Types and Examples of Changes

The purpose of assessment is to identify strengths and weaknesses in our practices, and to implement changes to improve the program. This critical step in assessment is often referred to as “closing the loop”.

After collecting and analyzing assessment data, decisions need to be made collectively to determine whether/what changes will be made. If the data suggest that the outcome is met, the plan for the subsequent year could either be to continue monitoring the outcome to ensure consistency in quality, or to celebrate and move on to another set of outcome(s). Again, all SLOs need to be assessed in a multi-year assessment cycle (determined by the department/program), but not all SLOs need to be assessed at once.

If the data suggest that the outcome is not met, changes or improvement actions should be planned for the subsequent year. Keep in mind that the implemented changes need to be monitored as well to see if they actually lead to improvement. One recommended way of doing so is to follow the same assessment plan as used previously (i.e. prior to changes), and compare the results to see if there is any difference. Within a multi-year assessment cycle, SLO should continue to be assessed and improved until “the loop is closed” (i.e. the outcome is met).

Here are some common types and examples of changes that assessment results lead to (adapted from Allen 2011):

Types of Change Examples
Curriculum Change prerequisites or GE requirements; Add required courses; Replace existing courses with new ones; Change course sequence; Add internships, labs and other hands-on learning opportunities
Faculty Support Provide targeted professional development opportunities; Increase number of TAs or peer mentors; Add specialized support to faculty (Library, Academic Technology, etc.); Increase support to promote dialogues and community among faculty
Pedagogy Change course assignments; Add more active-learning components to course design; Change textbooks; Increase opportunities for formative feedback and peer-assisted learning
Student Support Increase tutors; Add more online resources; Improve advising to make sure students take the right courses; Provide resources to encourage community building among students and between students and faculty
Resources Change the course management system; Improve or expand lab spaces; Provide resources to support student independent research
Assessment Plan Refine SLO statements; Change methods and/or measures; Change where (e.g. courses) the data are collected; Collect additional data; Improve data reporting and dissemination mechanisms