Assessment is not simply a single step done at the conclusion of a program or initiative to determine effectiveness. Instead, it should be thought of a continuous cycle that is part of every step in a project’s life. This cycle can be broken down into five primary stages.
Stage 1: Strategize
As you are building a program, think about the desired outcomes. Ask yourself how and when you might be able to conduct an investigation. If you want to find out if a specific program had an impact on student familiarity with a topic, you may want to implement a pre/post test survey. This requires an assessment before your program even takes place, something that would not be possible if assessment is left until the end.
Stage 2: Investigate
There are various methods of gathering information through assessment. These tools or investigations are things like surveys, focus groups, and individual interviews. You want to make sure that you pick the most appropriate format for obtaining answers to your questions, which can vary depending on the frequency, size, and type of program.
Stage 3: Analyze
Once you have conducted an investigation it is important to spend time analyzing the information. You want to review your data and determine how it answers your questions and goals. Areas to consider are efficacy, satisfaction, learning outcomes and group differences among students/attendees.
Stage 4: Share
Once you have conducted an investigation and analyzed the data, it is important to share that information with other partners that may benefit from it. How results are disseminated will vary based on your audience. This could range from a small summary statement to a detailed report containing graphs and charts.
Stage 5: Take Action
The final stage of the assessment cycle is to take any information that you have gained as a result of the assessment process and take action on it. This could mean that you adjust particular aspects of a single program or rethink an entire strategy. The important part is that you are using the information to improve the effectiveness of the program to better serve the student.