The purpose of outcomes assessment is to improve student learning. Outcomes assessment achieves improvement by systematically informing program-level decisions related to student learning with the best available evidence. Even if assessment measures are appropriate and on-schedule, outcomes assessment is not happening unless the assessment data is used to improve student learning.
Using assessment data is best planned as part of a program's unique system for informing learning-related decisions with evidence. In other words, "how to use assessment data" should be an integral part of a program's assessment plan. This handbook includes ideas for using assessment evidence for improvement in the context of creating assessment plans.
Outcomes assessment is a systematic process for improvement, not simply a system for measurement. It is like a closed-loop feedback system in engineering. In engineering systems, measurements are made to inform action. Similarly, in outcomes assessment, assessment measures are made to inform action intended to improve student learning.
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