The most basic question can also be the most difficult to answer: How do we know? In higher education, we think we’re fulfilling our mission. We’re sure students are learning and growing. We’re confident we’re achieving what we said we would. But it isn’t until we ask and answer “How do we know?” that we can unleash our college’s or university’s promise and potential.
Institutional effectiveness planning is a higher education institution’s effort to organize evaluation, assessment, and improvement initiatives so the institution can determine how well it is fulfilling its mission and achieving its goals.
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Creating an institutional effectiveness plan helps colleges and universities get a clear picture of their performance and use data to inform decisions. It moves institutional effectiveness from an externally focused compliance exercise to a key capacity for success.
Institutional effectiveness planning also helps institutions:
Assessment and evaluation efforts happen in almost every unit on campus. When these efforts are siloed, they are inefficient and more focused on fulfilling external reporting obligations than on using data to improve institutional performance. Integrated planning for institutional effectiveness makes assessment more efficient and more useful to the institution.
Institutional effectiveness planning is often managed by a central office, such as an office of institutional research. While evaluation of programs is also conducted at the unit level, the organization and timing of these efforts is often controlled by the office of institutional research.
Institutional effectiveness planning often uses a yearly cycle with certain activities, like re-accreditation, following a multi-year process. Data are collected in an ongoing fashion, and specific reporting windows are informed by state and federal guidelines.
A review of the institutional effectiveness model or processes usually occurs every five to 10 years but may also be triggered by:
Institutional effectiveness planning is often less about starting a new process and more about bringing current, ongoing assessment processes together into an overarching institutional effectiveness model. Typically, it involves:
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