Guidelines for the Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness

Last revised:
Fall 2015 
Southeastern Green Seal

 

Institutional effectiveness is integral to the maintenance and development of high- quality academic and service programs as well as to SACSCOC accreditation. The Institutional Effectiveness Committee (IEC), with rotating faculty, staff and student membership, is appointed by the Provost.  The charge of the committee is to develop, review and recommend policies and procedures for institutional effectiveness. On a periodic basis, the committee reviews the University's policies and procedures to determine what revisions, additions, and clarifications are needed. The IEC has three standing subcommittees appointed by the Provost: the University Academic Assessment Subcommittee, General Education Assessment Subcommittee and the University Support Services Assessment Subcommittee.

After a review of the current status of the assessment process used for the evaluation of institutional effectiveness, the IEC revised these guidelines, reflecting upon current best practices. The guidelines were presented to Deans’ Council, Council of Department Heads, Faculty Senate, and finally to the President’s Staff Group for approval.

 

What is Institutional Effectiveness?  

Institutional effectiveness is the systematic and ongoing process of collecting, analyzing and acting on data and information relating to the goals and outcomes developed to support the University's mission and purpose. Thus, institutional effectiveness is oriented towards measuring results and using those results to aid in decision-making and improvement.

Institutional effectiveness is a cyclical process in which continuous improvements and refinements on goals and methods are undertaken on an ongoing basis.

Furthermore, institutional effectiveness, like the University itself, is an ever- changing and evolving process. Thus, it needs to be revisited continuously to ensure that the needs, purpose, and mission of the University are being met.

 

Why Should Southeastern Assess Institutional Effectiveness?

There are two general purposes for institutional effectiveness: improvement and accountability. For institutions of higher education in the 21st century, both of these purposes are important.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) expects that institutions identifies expected outcomes, assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of improvement based on analysis of the results in each of the following areas (SACSCOC The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement, 3.3.1.1, 2011, p. 27):

  1. educational programs, to include student learning outcomes
  2. administrative support services
  3. academic and support services
  4. research within its mission, if appropriate
  5. community/public service within its mission, if appropriate

In addition, the University must comply with 3.5.1, ”The institution identifies college-level general education competencies and the extent to which graduates have attained them.” (SACSCOC The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement, 3.5.1, 2011, p. 29).

Louisiana Board of Regent’s identifies General Education competencies for all state universities. Southeastern maps these competencies to courses within the General Education core. A separate General Education Assessment Subcommittee, a subset of the Institutional Effectiveness Committee, is responsible for assessing, documenting, and reporting findings.

 

The Institutional Effectiveness Cycle

The overall institutional effectiveness process includes an ongoing planning- assessment- improvement cycle. Each instructional program and unit (administrative, educational support, research, and public service) is required to define outcomes, perform an annual assessment of its degree programs or operations, and report results and improvements from this self-assessment.

 

Institutional Effectiveness Cycle

 

 

Academic and support units are expected to complete assessment of all outcomes within a three-year cycle. However, findings and improvements based on results are reported yearly in WEAVE, an assessment and planning management system that houses all assessment plans and reports for Southeastern.

Planning 

  • Identify expected outcomes aligned with the departmental/program primary functions and the University's
  • Assign specific assessment activities for measuring each
  • Check for alignment of outcomes with curriculum (Academic units)

Assessment 

  • Conduct assessment
  • Evaluate the data to determine the extent to which outcomes have been
  • Identify possible explanations for results

Improvement 

  • Develop and implement specific strategies for program enhancement and/or improvement based on assessment
  • Modify expected outcomes based on improvements to repeat the cycle

 

The Institutional Effectiveness Model and Process

Southeastern has developed a standardized process for implementing and reporting assessment activities that provides consistency and uniformity among the diverse reporting units. All units use a conceptual model for assessment plans/reports that includes:

  • Purpose/Mission. Statement of unit’s mission and linkage to the University’s mission and strategic plan
  • Mission-driven, broad statements about what services or processes the unit will accomplish with respect to each of the constituencies they serve.
  • Measurable Outcomes/Objectives. Clear concise statements that describe outcomes or objectives for educational programs, educational and administrative support units, and public service and research centers
  • Assessment Description of the procedures that will be used to collect information.
  • Targets: Criteria for An overall level for satisfactory performance on a Measure-Outcome/Objective combination
  • Summary of assessment data collected and its analysis.
  • Action Plans (Use of Results). Identification of the improvements in programs and services that resulted from data collection and analysis.

This conceptual model is supported by the template in WEAVE Online.

 

Committee Structure

The assessment process is coordinated through the Institutional Effectiveness Committee and its subcommittees. The Institutional Effectiveness Committee has three standing subcommittees to evaluate all assessment plans and reports.

Committee Structure 

 

All assessment plans and reports are peer reviewed by the appropriate IEC subcommittee using defined criteria (see Appendix A and B in the PDF version of these guidelines) to increase the reliability of feedback given to the units. These reviews are posted in the Annual Report section of WEAVE Online.

The University Academic Assessment Subcommittee will evaluate all academic plans and reports. The University Support Unit Assessment Subcommittee will evaluate assessment plans and reports of those non-degree granting units that play a substantial role in furthering the mission of the University.  These units are typically not associated with a specific academic college or department. These areas will include administrative support services, education support services, research, and community/public service.

Both subcommittees recommend improvements in the assessment process and informally assist units in planning and conducting assessments by sharing ideas and procedures.

 

Assessment Cycles

The cycle for assessing outcomes spans three years. Specifically, all units have three years to make sure all outcomes have been assessed at least once. However, findings and analysis of findings are reported yearly.

Units provide evidence of improvement based on analysis of assessment results in WEAVE in both the action plan and analysis questions.  The goal is to document improvement over time.

Assumptions Underlying Southeastern's Program of Institutional Effectiveness

  1. The main purpose of Institutional Effectiveness is program improvement. While Southeastern recognizes that the institution must be accountable to accrediting agencies, the legislature, the public, and students, accountability is secondary to program improvement.
  2. Institutional effectiveness results are to be used for program/ department/unit assessment and improvement They are not to be used for tenure and/or promotion review, merit review, or any other personnel decisions.
  3. Southeastern Louisiana University has focused on outcomes assessment as one of the key components of our commitment to excellence. Considerable effort has been focused on refining and implementing a comprehensive, effective, and efficient assessment program to determine the extent to which students’ learning needs are met. Assessments may consist of activities such as standardized tests, computerized exit surveys, paper-and-pencil questionnaires, exit interviews, and other means. Although not all students complete the same set of assessment activities, all students will be asked to participate at some points in their academic careers. Since student involvement is critical to the success of outcomes assessment, student participation in assessment activities is both necessary and required.

Current Evaluation Rubrics for Academic Units and Support Units are located at http://www.southeastern.edu/admin/ir/inst_eff/index.html