Building Strong Geoscience Departments > Program Assessment > Developing an Assessment Plan
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. 1969-1971 Mauna Ulu eruption of Kilauea Volcano. Mauna Ulu dead end; lava flow across the road. June 1969. Photo from the US Geological Survey Photographic Library.

Developing an Assessment Plan

Just as an effective research program grows from a carefully thought out research plan, an effective assessment process begins with effective planning. What is your program trying to achieve, and how will you know if it is successful? What data do you need to collect to measure your success? How will you collect those data?

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is a tool that originated in the business world but is useful for any kind of strategic planning. It's a relatively quick way to look at your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Although it is not a substitute for an in-depth analysis, it can set the stage for one.

Logic Models

Logic models are conceptual models of how a program works. A well-developed logic model articulates, step by step, how a proposed program will achieve its goals. Developing a logic model is an excellent way to check that your program has a strong design: that is, that the program is likely to achieve its goals. Having a logic model makes program assessment straightforward.

Measuring the Impact of Our Programs on Students

Just as we need to assess our teaching to know what our students are learning, we need to assess our programs to know whether our programs are achieving our goals. This presentation, by Cathy Manduca and Ellen Iverson, was given at the January 2007 workshop on the Role of Departments in Preparing Future Geoscience Professionals. It demonstrates, via example, how you can apply your well-honed geoscience research skills to the process of program assessment.

Geoscience Program Assessment Planning Documents

We have collections of mission or vision statements, student learning goals or outcomes statements, and other program assessment planning documents, including institutional guidelines for reviews, assessment plans, and more, contributed by a broad spectrum of geoscience departments. While each department is unique and you will need to develop your own individualized plans, this collection may help you and your department to generate ideas.

Instructional Assessment Resources: Program Evaluation

The University of Texas at Austin has a website of Instructional Assessment Resources, including a comprehensive set of pages on evaluating programs. From planning your evaluation through collecting and reporting your data, this site offers step-by-step suggestions, worksheets, and examples.

References and Additional Readings


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