When conducting assessments, we approach our process through the lens of continuous improvement. As such, our assessment cycle is essentially never ending with the results of the current cycle resulting in improvements and changes for the next cycle.
Step 1: Identify Need/Want: I have identified an area/program we want/need to assess
Step 2: Conceptualization/Planning: I have begun thinking about how we may want to approach an assessment of a program/area
Step 3: Pre-implementation: I have begun developing/designing assessment tools and planning how we will conduct the assessment
Step 4: Implementation/data gathering: I have distributed the assessment tool and/or have been collecting data
Step 5: Post implementation evaluation: I have completed collecting data for and am reviewing the result
Step 6: Redesign: After completing the assessment, I have started to make changes to improve the process.
When determining what changes need to be made in the redesign phase, areas for improvement fall into two separate but related categories: process improvements and content improvements.
Any assessment requires the implementation of a process to gather the evidence you need in order to evaluate your outcome. The method you use to gather your evidence, store it, and subsequently utilize it to make claims about achieving your outcome will influence the quality, and perceived difficulty, of your assessment. When possible, we address any potential barriers to the ease and quality of our assessment processes through multiple methods. A few of our standard changes include utilizing technology to automate manual processes, implementing data protocols, and ensuring joint access so that data is not lost and/or forgotten.
Content improvements are necessary to ensure the validity of the claims we make about achieving our outcomes. At the end of each assessment project, we ask ourselves: Does the results of this assessment address the question I really want to know? If the answer is no, we take the time to re-evaluate the question we are asking, the outcome we are measuring, the data we are gathering, and the way we are utilizing the data to pinpoint where adjustments are necessary to ensure that, during the next cycle, we are able to produce results that lead to meaningful changes.