Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Daniel C. Robinson


Successfully completing the assessment process and using the resulting findings to inform institutional decision-making processes is one of the most difficult, least understood, and least researched phases of the assessment process. Difficult though it may be, closing the loop, as it is commonly called, is necessary for improvement to occur. Accreditation agencies recognize the importance of closing the loop and now mandate that institutions document how the results of the assessment process are being used for institutional improvement. This exploratory study sought to identify which areas of institutional decision-making the results of the assessment process are being used in the most/least and how extensively the following five variables (called collectively the "BLCCK Variables," pronounced 'block') influence the use of such results: (1) funds budgeted for assessment; (2) upper administration's leadership in/support of assessment; (3) institutional assessment culture; (4) institutional communication regarding assessment; and, (5) assessment leadership's knowledge of assessment. This study is based on the premise that successful implementation of an outcomes assessment plan is dependent upon the continuous completion of an outcomes assessment process, including using the results to inform institutional decision-making. Chief academic officers of community colleges accredited by the North Central Association Higher Learning Commission primarily provided the data for this research. Of the 302 chief academic officers surveyed, 216 (72%) responded. This study identified 20 areas of institutional decision-making in which the results of the assessment process are used. Analysis of the data revealed that results are most used in: (1) curriculum planning/evaluation; (2) improvement of teaching and learning; (3) program evaluation; and, (4) reports to accrediting agencies and upper-level administration. Areas in which results are least used include: (1) gift solicitation; (2) student recruitment; (3) job placement of graduates; and, (4) faculty evaluation and hiring. Further, the findings revealed that all of the BLCCK Variables significantly impact the use of assessment results in institutional decision-making with institutional assessment culture and assessment budget most impacting the use of results. This study is significant because institutions of higher education throughout the United States are struggling to successfully complete the assessment process.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Janet Lynn Woldt



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

135 pages