An Integrated Model of Influence: Use of Assessment Data in Higher Education

Jessica L. Jonson, Tim Guetterman, and Robert J. Thompson Jr.   |    Volume Nine  |    Email Article Download Article

A fundamental goal of student learning outcomes assessment in higher education is to use student learning evidence in decision making to improve educational programs. Such use of assessment findings, however, is atypical. This article argues that a narrow conception of use contributes to this conclusion and an accurate appraisal of the contribution of assessment requires a reconceptualization of the aims of assessment and a more inclusive model of possible uses of assessment evidence. To evaluate the heuristic value of a more inclusive model of influence adapted from the field of evaluation, a content analysis was undertaken of program assessment reports at a research university. Results indicate that existing definitions of use suffer from construct underrepresentation; assessment evidence may be more influential than realized, particularly with regard to enhancing understanding of how student learning occurs; and the more inclusive model has potential utility for faculty, administrators, and accrediting bodies.

« Back to Archive