As we approach the end of a particularly challenging semester, it's important to pause for a moment to reflect on the student learning that has taken place under these unusual circumstances and to make some forward-thinking plans for how that will be captured in assessment documentation.

Remembering my own experience as a faculty member with additional assessment responsibilities, I thought I would share a few tips for those of you responsible for collecting assessment data and compiling annual student learning assessment documents:

  • Communicate -- If you are working with a large enrollment course with multiple sections, you might consider sending out an email to remind all of the faculty teaching those courses of what they will be expected to provide to you in terms of assessment results and how you'd like them to organize and submit those materials. When we're all juggling a million little close of semester tasks, it's easy to overlook collecting assessment data that won't be required until later.
  • Create a file structure now -- Go ahead and build and label the folders you'll need to archive assessment materials. That way, you have a place to put things as they come in to avoid spending hours later scrolling through past emails and having to re-request things that you may have already received. (Pro tip: Use a Google form to collect assessment results. Others can upload files to the form, and it will automatically be organized in a spreadsheet and folder for you.)
  • Use clear file naming -- Set a pattern that you can follow from semester to semester so that you can see what's in each file at a glance instead of having to open, read, and remember multiple times. Keep it clear and simple, something like Course Code, Course Number, Section Number, Semester, Year Assessment Data.

Another thing you might want to take into consideration is any surrounding information you will need to put the data collected in context, especially considering anything unusual for your course administration this semester. You might want to jot down some notes (and ask others who taught the course to share some notes -- maybe in the Google form mentioned above) about what specific challenges you and your students faced, how those challenges were addressed, and any success stories that emerged. These kinds of details can be helpful in interpreting your data later and thinking about potential action plans for improving student learning going forward.

Best of luck as you conclude your semester!