DePaul University Center for Teaching & Learning > Assessment > Resources > Assessment Planning

Assessment Planning

What is an Assessment Plan?

An assessment plan is an outline that includes all relevant portions of an assessment project, tying together each step of an assessment project in consideration of the context in which the assessment will occur.

Why Create an Assessment Plan?

There are a variety of reasons why it is a good idea to create an assessment plan in your program. A few examples are:

  1. Having a well-written assessment plan reduces the amount of time you will ultimately have to devote to conducting your assessment project, since it can clarify tasks and timelines.
  2. An assessment plan provides a framework to guide your assessment project, ensuring everyone is on the same page and is clear on their individual responsibilities and the overall timeline.
    • Allows for the consideration of all parts of an assessment project and critical analysis of how the different pieces fit together and can best be implemented to achieve the desired goals of assessment.
    • May help predict potential issues with the project, allowing for correction before implementation rather than responding reactively.
  3. An assessment plan provides a dynamic map for your assessment project, allowing for better flexibility as you implement your project and more reasoned responses to issues that may arise.
  4. An assessment plan is a good way to start conversations among relevant stakeholders (i.e. faculty, staff, students) about not only assessment, but also about teaching, learning, curriculum, etc. in your program.
  5. Clear assessment plans also provide dedicated time and space to consider the continuity of your overall assessment plan:
    • How does this year’s assessment project connect to previous assessment and the program’s plans for future assessment?
    • Is the program assessing all learning outcomes in an adequate time frame (5-7 years and/or within the HLC mega-cycle)?
    • How does assessment fit into other aspects of the program and programmatic priorities for the future?
    • Is your assessment program well-aligned with external expectations (for example, strategic planning initiatives or other institutional directions, professional standards, etc.)
  6. An assessment plan is an opportunity to ensure that you have “your ducks in a row.”
    • What resources will be required to carry out the assessment project?
    • Do you have the appropriate resources (ex. faculty time, financial resources, space, etc.) lined up to implement your assessment project?

Critical Elements of an Assessment Plan

  • What question(s) are you asking about students’ learning?
  • Is there any literature to support your assessment project (i.e. frame the question, provide context for your assessment project, inform your methodology or analysis/interpretation)?
  • How does assessment of the learning outcome(s) you will assess fit into strategic directions for your program (and/or the unit/college/institution)?
  • When will each step of your assessment project occur?
  • It is important to be realistic about your timeline!
  • Who will be involved in the assessment project?
  • What will each individual’s responsibilities be (tied to the timeline)?
  • What learning outcome(s) are you interested in assessing?
  • Why is the assessment of the particular learning outcome(s) timely for your program?
  • How will you collect information about students’ achievement of the learning outcome(s) of interest?
  • Does your methodology include at least one direct assessment?
    • Are you already collecting information from students you can use to assess your learning outcome(s)?
  • It is important to consider scope:
    • What specific population of students will you assess?
    • Of the total population what percentage will be invited to participate?
    • Will the potential set of data adequately answer the assessment question?
  • How will the data collected help you understand how well students are achieving the learning outcome(s) you are assessing?
  • What method(s) will you use to analyze the data you collect? (Simpler is often better!)

Keep in mind:

  • Data do NOT make decisions; YOU make decisions
  • Data must be restructured into information that:
    • Provides a balanced view of the situation
    • Identifies issues and establishes progress
    • Is relevant to and sufficient for addressing key issues
  • How will you interpret the results of your analysis?
  • Who will be involved in the interpretation?
    • How can you involve as many stakeholders (faculty, staff, students) as possible to give you the best perspective on the results?
  • How will you decide the implications of your results?
  • Who will determine the actions that can or should you take based on the results you obtained?
  • Who should receive the results of your assessment project?
  • How will you communicate your results to different stakeholders?


If you would like a consultation on assessment planning, please get in touch with our office.