The Assessment Steering Committee was asked, “ I am starting to get questions from faculty members about how they should go about changing learning outcomes – either changing the outcome entirely, or modifying it in some way (where it is assessed, how it is assessed, etc.) Is there an appropriate process for going about this, especially with regard to updating information in Compliance Assist?“
It is expected that faculty will modify program learning outcomes from time to time in response to assessment results; to clarify its language; to reflect changes in the goals/ focus of the program; or to better align with specialized accreditation mandates. There is a range of changes to outcomes from simple edits to retiring the outcome. Whatever the situation, outcome revisions should be made with the following in mind:
Program mission: Are the revised outcomes consistent with the program’s mission and values?
Rationale for the change: Was the change grounded in sound reasoning? Was it based on assessment of student learning (results and analysis of the findings). These edits/revisions are part of the actions taken. Is the rationale clearly described in the previous year’s report? How does it foster improvement of learning?
Continuity: How will the change affect the program’s assessment of learning longitudinally?
Faculty buy-in: Are the changes faculty driven? Does the faculty support the changes?
When is the right time for revisions?
In most cases, decisions about revisions should be made at the end of the annual cycle and described as “Actions taken.” For instance, changes to this year’s assessment plan should be noted in the Actions or Notes sections of the 2013-14 program.
If the changes are truly simple edits of the wording, you can go into Compliance Assist and make the appropriate edits. In the Notes field of the form, provide the old outcome, indicate the revisions made, and provide an explanation as to why the change is made. This is really for archival history for the program faculty.
If the decision is to make major changes, such as eliminating the outcome, it should be based on assessment of student learning. In these cases, 1) use the Notes field of the outcome being deleted to provide the explanation why it is being retired. 2) Attach any supporting documentation. And then, 3) mark the Progress field as “Retired.” You would then create the new outcome, using the same outcome number. This will help college and institutional reviewers understand what is happening with the program’s assessment plan.
If the decision to change an outcome is based on changes in professional standards (for those programs that undergo programmatic accreditation or the discipline has individual certification standards), 1) use the Notes field of the outcome being deleted to provide the explanation why it is being retired. 2) Attach any supporting documentation. And then, 3) mark the Progress field as “Retired.” You would then create the new outcome, using the same outcome number. This will help college and institutional reviewers understand what is happening with the program’s assessment plan.
If the changes are to the assessment methods, this should be described in the field “Direct Assessment Method(s) Description.” An explanation for why the changes are made should be included. Supporting documentation should be attached.
If you or your faculty have any questions, please feel free to contact Corinne Nicolas, [log in to unmask] in the Tenn TLC, Michael McFall, [log in to unmask] in the OIRA, or Mary Albrecht, [log in to unmask] in the Office of Accreditation.
Mary Lewnes Albrecht, PhD
Associate Vice Provost for Accreditation
University of Tennessee
Office of the Provost
527 Andy Holt Tower
Knoxville, TN 37996-0152
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"Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education .... The human mind is our fundamental resource." John F. Kennedy