Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment
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Institutional Effectiveness

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What is Institutional Effectiveness (IE)?

"Effective institutions demonstrate a commitment to the principles of continuous improvement. These principles are based on a systematic and documented process of assessing institutional performance with respect to mission in all aspects of the institution. An institutional planning and effectiveness process involves all programs, services and constituencies; is linked to the decision-making process at all levels; and provides a sound basis for budgetary decisions and resource allocations."

“Student learning and student success are at the core of the mission of all institutions of higher learning. Effective institutions focus on the design and improvement of educational experiences to enhance student learning and support student learning outcomes for its educational programs. To meet the goals of educational programs, an institution provides appropriate academic and student services to support student success. ….The institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of seeking improvement based on analysis of the results in the areas below:

In addition, the “institution identifies expected outcomes of its administrative support services and demonstrates the extent to which the outcomes are achieved.”

The SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement, 2018 Edition

Description of the APSU Institutional Effectiveness Process

The institutional effectiveness (IE)/assessment process at APSU is an annual process that has been enhanced since the institution's last reaffirmation in 2014. The university-wide Institutional Effectiveness Committee (IEC) assists in supporting continuous improvement by reexamining the process itself on an annual basis. This process includes the identification of outcomes, collection and analysis of assessment data, and use of results to make programmatic (or administrative unit) improvements. In the case of academic programs, the dean of the college reviews and provides feedback on the IE plan. The IE plan includes student learning outcomes (or administrative unit outcomes for other units), assessment procedures, and criterion for success (target). Then the academic department, academic/student support services unit, or administrative unit implements the IE assessment plan and submits an annual IE report. The IEC oversees the process and provides feedback for the annual program-level outcomes assessment reports as well as for academic support units, administrative and other non-academic units. The committee membership comprises faculty and staff representing the variety and diversity of programs and units at the University. The process, called the Institutional Effectiveness Process (IEP), is described below and comprises four steps:

  1. Planning: All units create administrative (operational or program) outcomes, and academic programs and selected non-academic units, such as advising within the Center for Teaching and Learning, design student learning outcomes. These outcomes are derived from and intended to support the university’s strategic plan or university mission as appropriate, and mission of the college/unit or program. Academic departments and non-academic units design assessment measures, methods, and criteria for success (targets) in conjunction with setting the outcomes. Academic departments complete these activities—designing assessment measures, methods, and criteria for success, in conjunction with setting the outcomes—during the first department meetings at the beginning of the academic year.
  2. Assessing and analyzing outcomes: Assessment of outcomes is ongoing throughout the academic year. Academic departments and non-academic units summarize and analyze assessment data at the end of the academic year or the beginning of the next academic year.
  3. Improvement: Using the results of the analysis to improve the area or program targeted by the outcome, the academic department or non-academic unit identifies strengths and weaknesses in services, curriculum, or instruction. Each academic department and non-academic unit develops strategies to make changes in the unit operations or the academic program and implements them during the academic year.
  4. Review: Academic departments and non-academic units submit an IEP Report to the campus leadership and to the IEC. The report includes a list of student learning outcomes, a description of assessment procedures, discussion of results and analysis, and actions for improvement based on assessment data. The IEC reviews all reports, by applying a common rubric, and provides feedback to strengthen assessment plans and reports. The IEC feedback is advisory in nature, intended to advance the institution's efforts in promoting a culture of continuous improvement, and to provide specific units or programs with suggestions on how to improve their assessment procedures and use of data. The IEC also can act upon meta-analysis of completed IEC rubrics to plan IE/Outcomes assessment professional development activities for areas or divisions within the University.

This annual process fosters continuous improvement and gives departments the data needed to make informed decisions and enhance their programs and services and improve student learning, thereby providing graduates with the knowledge and skills within the mission of the university.

What are IE Reports?

The IE Report is a valuable opportunity to review accomplishments, enumerate our goals, and refocus our attention on the university's mission. Additionally, working on the report provides time for thoughtful consideration of resources and the articulation of an effective course of action to continue accomplishing our goals. 

IE Reports for each department, college, and support unit are submitted annually as a way to document progress toward achieving unit goals and collectively document progress toward achieving the university’s goals as enumerated in the Strategic Plan.  IE Reports state each unit’s intentions to continue current actions or to implement new objectives, strategies, or assessment measures.  New budgetary needs to support unit objectives are itemized in IE Reports.