Exploring the Relationship Between Academic Program Assessment Practices and Institutional Performance

Nicholas T. Christian, Wright State University


Researchers (Stanny & Bryan, 2021; Tinto, 2012) have claimed without empirical evidence that academic program assessment is important to student success. This study used structural equation modeling (SEM) to identify the relationships between academic program assessment practices and institutional performance based on responses from faculty at U.S.-located four-year institutions of higher education. The theoretical foundations of best practices in program assessment, organizational learning, faculty motivation, and institutional performance were examined and included as the primary variables. Assessment practices in higher education are best summarized by the assessment loop: articulating the intended learning outcomes; selecting appropriate assessment measures; developing curriculum and learning activities; and closing the loop. In the final model, 23.6% of the variance in institutional performance was explained by the other variables, providing empirical support that implementing assessment best practices does contribute to institutional performance. An update to the established assessment loop was proposed to better extricate what “closing the assessment loop” entails based on organizational learning (Dixon, 1994).