In assessment work, "closing the loop" means taking what you've learned from your assessment results, using that information to inform subsequent actions or improvements (also known as “interventions”), and re-assessing to see whether those actions were successful.
Much has been written on the difficulty of closing the loop, and many assessment projects neglect this step or choose to narrowly interpret it as merely reporting out the assessment results.
Closing the loop will look different depending on your project and your motivation for conducting assessment.
Here are some examples of what closing the loop might look like for different assessment projects:
A. Are you doing assessment primarily to improve library operational effectiveness?
- Your assessment results should lead to some ideas for improvements of your operations, and, once those improvements have been implemented, you will re-assess to gauge their effectiveness.
B. Are you focusing on student outcomes?
- If your assessment shows, for example, that students are not achieving your specified learning outcomes at sufficiently high rates, you might modify instructional techniques and later reassess to determine the impact of your changes.
C. Are you trying to show the value of the library to the university?
- If your results show a positive effect of library programs and services on student success, you might consider how to extend those services to reach more students. If no effect is found, consider what changes you might make to your programs and services to have a greater impact on student success. Also keep in mind that sampling error and flawed research designs may lead to results that do not accurately reflect the effect that the assessment was hoping to measure. Re-assessing after any changes are made is an important part of closing the loop.
D. Are you reporting to WASC or another accreditation agency?
- WASC will want to see evidence that the lessons learned from one accreditation cycle have been used to make improvements for the next cycle, and that there is a plan to re-assess those improvements.