Power of the Assessment Process
Mention the word “assessment” to most anyone in higher education, and you’re likely to be met with a groan, an eye roll, or perhaps a snort. While it does have its loyal supporters, assessment is often maligned as a required but ineffectual process. Not only do I engage in assessment efforts at my institution, I also teach a doctoral course on this very topic. My experience has shown that the assessment cycle has tremendous applicability outside of higher education. Virtually any organization can use this cycle to determine — in an organized and orderly fashion — how well an initiative has performed and to use that data in making decisions. Here’s a quick review of the steps in the process:
1. Confirm the goal: What’s goal of the initiative? To which organizational goal is it tied? (If the initiative isn’t tied to or in support of a larger organizational goal, then you probably want to ask why you’re doing the initiative in the first place.)
2. Determine key data collection decisions:
a. What data are you going to collect from the initiative? Is it qualitative, quantitative, or a mix?
b. When will the data be collected and by whom?
c. Where it be stored and how can it be retrieved?
3. Analyze data: Are the results comparative, descriptive, or do they demonstrate impact? Is that the type of analysis that you wanted for this initiative? Is it what you need?
4. Use data to make decisions:
a. What is the impact of any potential changes?
b. How do you prioritize those changes?
5. Repeat these steps to assess the resulting change(s).
While certain of these steps seem obvious, the power lies in the totality of the process. If you’re not engaging in detailed and ongoing systematic reviews of the programs, people, and initiatives of your organization, you’re likely wasting time, money, and energy on activities that don’t advance your goals.
With clear processes and precise steps, H.O.W. Highly Organized Woman can help keep assessment of your initiatives organized and your entire organization on track to meet its goals.