Step 1 – Develop three to five administrative objectives.
Administrative objectives should be linked to an supportive of the university mission and one or more of the university’s strategic goals. These administrative objectives may be “process oriented” objectives or may be “outcomes oriented.” Process oriented objectives delineate functions, services or processes that the administrative unit wants to improve. “Outcomes oriented” objectives focus on outcomes for the student after having received services by the administrative unit. Process oriented objectives will often describe the level or volume of the unit’s activities, e.g. the number of students served. An outcomes oriented objective would describe what a student can do after receiving the services of the unit. e.g. complete a resume on-line. In the development of administrative unit objectives, it is important to write objectives that reflect what the staff value and believe it is important to accomplish.
The number of administrative objectives should be no more than three to five. The identification of more than three to five objectives simply becomes too unwieldily to measure and manage. The assessment efforts of the unit and ultimately of the entire university will cease if these efforts are buried under a mountain of paper. As administrative objectives are assessed and results used to improve unit performance, new objectives can be identified and can replace existing ones. It may seem obvious, but is also important in developing a unit assessment plan to “just begin”. At times the desire to develop the “perfect” assessment plan results in the implementation of no assessment activities. Remembering that the overall purpose of assessment is improvement, it is not unreasonable to expect improvement in the plans and assessment activities themselves.
Step 2 – Identification of appropriate methods of assessment.
There is no single best way to measure objectives. The methods of assessment chosen should be those that best answer the unit’s questions. Methods of assessment may include but are certainly not limited to: undergraduate and graduate student surveys, alumni surveys, employer surveys, direct measures such as counts or unit activities, response times and the use of external evaluators. Every effort should be made to use at least two different methods of assessment.
Step 3 – Establish criteria for intended educational outcome.
Criteria for intended objectives need to be set that establish a reasonable level of service improvement given resources and current personnel. The criterion should not be so low as to not show improvement nor so high that it is unattainable given current resources.
Step 4 – Collect data using the methods of assessment identified by the unit according to established time-line.
The assessment plan must identify the methods of assessment and how frequently and from whom the assessment information will be obtained. Some assessment methods may be done annually, others may be done less frequently. In addition, some assessment results may be obtained from a sample of students while in others cases all students will be assessed.
Step 5 – Record observations (data) from assessment activities and use results of assessment to improve academic degree program.
The importance of “closing of the feedback loop” can not be over emphasized. It is imperative that the results of assessment be used to inform and improve the functions and services of the administrative or educational support unit. If the results of assessment consistently indicate that the unit needs no improvement, it is suggested that the unit either raise the criterion or look for new objectives. Again, an important purpose of institutional effectiveness planning is program improvement.
Step 6 – Format of Plan