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As assessment professionals we are challenged to be critical, analytical, creative, and realistic about what we either do or do not know, and to mine data to support our epistemic limitations. When assessment is done well, it transforms data into information into knowledge that aids good judgment and decision-making. These judgments are used on smaller scales to solve every day operational tasks or on larger scales to determine the fate of academic programs. Both usages provide accountability to our stakeholders. But too often assessment is stuck in a rut and becomes mechanical to a point where the value of assessment itself as a key endeavor is lost.

In these instances, it feels no different than if we were staring at a difficult jigsaw puzzle with a ton of missing pieces and no picture on a box to even perceive what the end goal should resemble. How should we approach these crucial moments with such important stakes? I believe that two of the most important things to do during such a time is: 1) Come to terms with the fact that when truly done well, assessment has no end goal, and should be more realistically thought of as a complex loop rather than a linear process; and 2) Use available but appropriate tools to gather data and revolutionize our processes if and when necessary.

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