The Assessment Cycle

Effective outcomes assessment follows a sequential, intentional and reflective process of careful consideration with regard to student learning and development and how to measure success. Assessment within SAUP Departments follows the JMU seven-stage continuous assessment cycle (pictured below). This cycle is built on seven distinct but interrelated actions. Results at one stage guide activity at the following stage. The reporting template we use in SAUP (the Learning And Development Outcomes Report (LADOR)) is organized around this assessment cycle.

The Assessment Cycle (each phase is described in detail in the text below)

Overview of the Assessment Cycle:





Stages of the Assessment Cycle: LADOR Definitions and Tutorials



Specifying Student Learning Outcomes

Student learning outcomes refer to what students should know, think, or do as a result of participating in the program. The longest amount of time in the assessment cycle should be dedicated to establishing realistic learning outcomes, because all other aspects of the assessment cycle will be tied to these outcomes since they are the foundation.

Create and Map Programming to Outcomes

Mapping the program to the outcomes refers to specifically identifying how the program components (e.g. activities, curriculum) relate to each learning outcome.

Select/Design Instruments

To measure the program’s learning outcomes, instruments need to be identified by selecting existing instruments or developing new instruments. CARS can help with this section unless otherwise indicated.

Examine Implementation Fidelity

Implementation fidelity refers to the alignment of the planned program and the implemented program. Therefore, this section documents the program that was actually delivered.


Collect Outcomes Information

Collecting information refers to the actual data collection process.


Analyze Data, Report Results, and Maintain Information

In order to determine the effectiveness of a program, data analysis is necessary. Present and interpret results in a way that stakeholders can understand and use. Provide information about how and where data are stored.

Use Results for Program-Related Decisions

It is critical to determine how to utilize the information obtained through data analysis, statistical results, and interpretation of the results.

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