Sharing Assessment ResultsReferences:
Upcraft, M. Lee., and John H. Schuh. "Reporting and Using Assessment Results." Assessment in Student Affairs: a Guide for Practitioners. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass, 1996.
Upcraft and Schuh find five major steps/questions to consider when preparing reports from assessment results:
1. Who is/are the audience(s)?
- May be more than one audience
- Often best to write one main report and then create smaller, catered subreports for individual audiences
2. Determining the appropriate format
- Based on audience
- Some options:
- Tables: Good if audience knows the topic, some brief explanation should be included
- 1-2 page Executive Summary: purpose, methods, findings, and recommendations
- 3-5 page Short Report: Mix between executive summary and full comprehensive report
- Supplemental Reports: This is particularly good with larger assessments that cover a variety of topics. The topics can be broken down (read: functional areas, departments, etc.) and thus the audience is not burdened with unrelated information.
- Complete Report: What was done?, Why was it done?, Discussion of findings, and Conclusions. This may not actually be sent to anyone but is good to have as a resource instead of having to reexamine the results…it is all there for you in a more accessible format
3. Include all components
- Catchy title: sounds cheesy but draw in the reader…make a good first impression
- Executive Summary: MOST IMPORTANT part because it is often the most reviewed – while it needs to be brief ensure that it is still accurate and doesn’t make overwhelming generalizations
- Statement of Purpose: why did you conduct this assessment?
- Design: What was it? Why did you choose this method of data collection? Not only should you include methods but limitations of the given method should also be explained.
- Results: Quantitative – explain results concisely in body, further charts and graphs can be appendices; qualitative – general themes and select quotes is best practice
- Summary of Results: also very important because it should concisely bring together all of the results.
- Recommendations: make sure to tie any recommendations directly into findings; speculation is allowed so much as it is clearly labeled as such
4. Make it interesting!
- Use headings to break it up!
- More casual tone than a formal study or doctoral dissertation
- Find a way to craft a narrative
5. What to do with “difficult” findings?
- Use praise as well as criticism
- Phrase potentially controversial results gently
- Avoid blaming anyone
- Let the audiences know before publicly sharing results