Closing the Loop

Closing the LoopClosing the loop is the most important step in the institutional effectiveness cycle – it involves analyzing data and then modifying strategies as needed to better achieve measurable objectives. Plans and assessments are not judged by whether or not measurable objectives were achieved – but by whether or not a documented effort was made, data analyzed, and appropriate changes made to the strategies in order to better achieve measurable objectives in the future.

The following table provides guidance on how to close the loop in a variety of situations.

Presenting Situation Potential Action
Results are difficult to interpret Invest time to review the assessment method selected. It may be necessary to change the assessment instrument and/or to revise the scoring guide/rubric.
Results can be interpreted but do not provide sufficient detail to inform a meaningful decision Think about the scoring strategy(ies) currently in place. It may be necessary to develop or revise the scoring guide/rubric to provide more meaningful information.
Improvement noted but criterion was not achieved Consider adding action steps (e.g., professional development of faculty, revision of course content) that increase the likelihood of attaining the desired outcome. Adjust the criterion level if warranted.
Criterion was achieved Celebrate your achievement and determine if the criterion should be adjusted to a higher standard or if sustainability efforts should be put into place to maintain the level of performance noted.
Criterion achieved consistently
(over more than one cycle)
Consider removing the student learning outcome from your institutional effectiveness plan and replacing with another outcome that will assist faculty with addressing meaningful program improvement targets.

Closing the Loop Decision Making

How faculty respond to assessment results may vary widely - from an adjusted quiz question to a major curricular change. Following are some examples.

Curricular changes

  • Adding or changing an assignment
  • Adding or changing prerequisite
  • Updating course content

Pedagogical changes

  • Guest lectures
  • Small group activities
  • Web-based instruction

Student support

  • Tutoring
  • Help session
  • Remediation

Faculty support

  • Professional development
  • Technology assistance
  • Online resources

When documenting closing the loop efforts, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Results are reported in aggregate form because the results represent the program or unit rather than individuals
  • The anonymity of all participants (students, staff, faculty, other constituents) should be maintained and no individual results should be identified
  • Clearly state how and when findings were reviewed
  • Clearly state changes implemented as result of the findings
  • Include plan for how success of implemented changes will be tracked


The institutional effectiveness cycle involves the assessment of the prior plan and production of the next year’s plan. Faculty and staff are integral to the assessment process. For academic plans, all faculty members should participate in the process, not just department chairs. For nonacademic units, broad input is expected.

The university operates using annual institutional effectiveness cycles that correspond to academic years. However, closing the loop may occur as often as assessment methods and data collection allows. It is important to keep in mind that the institutional effectiveness process is iterative, with focus and priorities changing over time.