Assessment is a systematic and ongoing process of gathering and interpreting information to discover if programs/services are meeting the intended outcomes and then using the information to enhance/improve the programs/services (adapted from Virginia Commonwealth, 2002 and Marchese, 1987).
Assessment serves institutional effectiveness through its four main purposes, it:
- Improves programs/services through assessment results that indicate areas for change.
- Informs students, faculty, staff and other stakeholders of the state of a program/service and its impact.
- Validates that a program/service is accomplishing what it says it is accomplishing through a demonstration of assessment results.
- Supports campus-decision making processes, strategic planning, program review and additional accountability activities such as SACSCOC reaffirmation and re-accreditation of academic programs by professional accrediting bodies (adapted from Selim et. al., 2005 & Virginia Common Wealth, 2002)
Annual reports are peer-reviewed by the Institutional Effectiveness Committee to provide feedback for departments/units/programs and to summarize assessment data for the Senior Leadership Team for institutional budgeting and planning processes.
Institutional effectiveness assessment further supports the institution’s accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC):
Excerpted Principles related to making a case for institutional effectiveness:
Section 7. Institutional Planning and Effectiveness (effective Jan 1, 2018)
- The institution engages in ongoing, comprehensive, and integrated research-based planning and evaluation processes that (a) focus on institutional quality and effectiveness and (b) incorporate a systematic review of institutional goals and outcomes consistent with its mission. (Institutional Planning) *Core Requirement*
- The institution has a Quality Enhancement Plan that (a) has a topic identified through its ongoing, comprehensive planning and evaluation processes; (b) has broad-based support of institutional constituencies; (c) focuses on improving specific student learning outcomes and/or student success, (d) commits resources to initiate, implement and complete the QEP, and (e) includes a plan to assess achievement. (Quality Enhancement Plan)
- The institution identifies expected outcomes of its administrative support services and demonstrates the extent to which the outcomes are achieved. (Administrative effectiveness)
Section 8. Student Achievement (effective Jan 1, 2018)
2. The institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of seeking improvement based on the analysis of the results in the areas below:
a. student learning outcomes for each of its educational programs.(Student outcomes: educational programs)
b. student learning outcomes for collegiate-level general education competencies of its undergraduate programs. (Student outcomes: general education)
c. academic and student services that support student success. (Student outcomes: academic and student services)