Define Focus for Inquiry

What do you want to know?

Define focal question(s) for this cycle of inquiry


    • Draw focal question from the program assessment plan, as possible. 
    • Learn from the past: use results of previous cycle to inform next inquiry (aka avoid reinventing the wheel).
    • The purpose of learning outcomes assessment is to improve student learning.

    Define focal question(s)Assessment Cycle Image - Define Focus

    The questions you ask determine the types, sources, and amount of evidence you'll need to gather and analyze.

    Remember that the purpose of learning outcomes assessment is to identify ways to support program effectiveness and improve student learning. 

    Sample questions

    • Where in the curriculum do students seem to "stumble"? What factors might contribute to those bumps in the program?
    • What percentage of our graduating students meet (or exceed) our expectations, as expressed in the program learning outcomes statements? 
    • How well can students demonstrate particular skills at different points across the curriculum?
    • What can we learn—from the data we have—about students’ achievement of course, program, and/or campus goals?
    • What are our incoming students’ areas of strengths and weaknesses? 
    • How have recent curricular or pedagogical changes affected student performance in relation to the program learning outcomes?
    Learn from the past
    • Before beginning a new assessment inquiry project, reflect on what the program learned as a result of the previous cycle. 
    • Review guiding question(s); outcome(s) assessed; evidence gathered and analyzed; and findings.
      Consider curricular innovations the program undertaken since the last assessment cycle (e.g., curriculum redesign, online delivery of instruction, internship programs). What prompted the innovation? How has the department / program determined whether the curricular innovations have been effective and/or have resulted in growth of student learning?