Continued Improvement and Accountability
Institutional assessment provides a foundation of information useful for improving programs and services and for demonstrating accountability associated with the improved performance of the entire University. Data collected through on-going assessment activities allow for information-based program planning, policy development, and decision-making. Relevant data can reveal who is utilizing campus resources, where performance is exceeding intended outcomes, and where there are gaps between those outcomes and actual performance. Intervention strategies can then be developed to bring performance in all areas up to the standard.
As highlighted in the accreditation recommendations, the university must be able to provide information about our activities that has been gathered through acceptable assessment procedures. This information should reflect how well we assist students in reaching their academic and life goals. The ability to convincingly demonstrate this connection is vital for on-going sustainability of the university.
The University's need for intentional and coordinated assessment activity has been magnified during our recent efforts to effectively utilize resources, improve university programs, justify budgets, and demonstrate accountability to our internal and external constituents. With our new budget model, intended outcomes and program satisfaction will be scrutinized more closely.
As a result, the OSU 2007 Student Experience Assessment Subcommittee has responded to the charge put forth by the OSU 2007 Steering Committee, using a process defined by Larry Roper, Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Sabah Randhawa, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. The working group has developed a contextual framework from which to lead the campus in planning for university-wide assessment activities and to support the campus in individual assessment efforts.
Members of the Assessment Sub-committee contacted 20 other institutions last year to benchmark best practices. In addition, the subcommittee consulted with Dr. Gary R. Hanson, former Research Coordinator for UT-Austin.
Through these efforts and further conversations, it has become clear to the OSU 2007 Student Experience Assessment Subcommittee and the Student Affairs Assessment Committee, that a dedicated office will be necessary to create the quality and quantity of University assessment needed. The Subcommittee proposes that the activity of University assessment be combined with the current Office of Institutional Research. This proposal reflects the initial thinking for a structure of a comprehensive assessment program, and will require additional conversations with other departments and units within the University for refinement.
The members of the Subcommittee feel this proposed office would create the opportunity for greater alignment with regard to academic programs, the student experience, and institutional management. The establishment of the office would demonstrate a commitment to the success of campus-wide and department/office/college specific goals and programs.
This proposal is intended to be a conversation catalyst. It is the intention of the committee that the office's chief roles would be to provide consultation to the various entities in their assessment efforts, coordinate campus-wide assessment activity, implement specific assessment projects, and appropriately disseminate reports on assessment activities to the University community and external constituents. It is not our intent for the office to dictate or prescribe assessment activity within various units.
1) Proposed Unit Name: Office of Institutional Research and Assessment
2) Primary Charge/Mission: The mission of the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment would be to a) coordinate campus-wide assessment projects, b) consult with specific administrative, student support, and academic units relative to specific assessment activities and efforts, and c) implement designated research and assessment projects relevant to the university mission.
3) Suggested Vision Statement (preferred future/aspiration statement): The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment will be responsible for coordinating intentional, research and assessment activities for the University. The Office will assess the quality and quantity of academic programs, develop a deeper understanding of the student experience, and inform the leadership of the university for the purpose of immediate and strategic decision making processes. The office will regularly determine the degree to which the University is achieving intended outcomes while looking at opportunities for continued improvement.
4) Programs/activities for which the unit is responsible (major functions to be performed): The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment would provide leadership, coordination, and support for the university with regard to assessment activity including, but not limited to, the assessment of administrative and academic program effectiveness and efficiency, learning outcomes, utilization, needs and satisfaction. Specific roles and activities would include:
- Serve as an assessment consultant to many areas within the university; provide various levels of expertise; assist with instrument development and implementation.
- Serve as a centralized guide and catalyst for assessment activity
- Inform university leaders to assist in making meaningful decisions.
- Provide data processing support for data collection and statistical analysis.
- Provide report writing of evaluation and assessment projects in a timely and useful manner.
- Conduct designated surveys relevant to campus and/or department/college initiatives.
- Serve as the clearinghouse for information on the students' experience and demographics.
- Provide institutional research.
5) General organization design (organizational chart): Director of the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment Coordinator of Academic Programs Coordinator of Student Experience Coordinator of Institutional Management Research and Assessment Support Administrative Support
6) Suggest specific questions that we should ask others to consider as they review this proposed organizational design:
- Does this organizational structure make sense for the needs of the entire University?
- Do we have the opportunity to create an effort worthy of nationally prominent excellence in the area of assessment?
- How do we address issues of diversity in our planning, implementing, and reporting of assessment?
- How are we going to make sure that assessment activities are balanced for all areas of the University?
- How do we continue to focus on the student's "lived" experience?
- How do we both generate assessment activity for the campus and help to leverage office efforts through training, software and equipment resources, and support?
- How will we coordinate the management of all assessment information (i.e. provide a clearing-house)?
- Should we develop a University Assessment Council representative of the university to advise the comprehensive assessment effort?
- How will this office interface, if at all, with the Survey Research Center directed by Virginia Lesser?
- How will we convene periodic assessment discussions?*
- How will we capture qualitative data?*
- How will we share data-methodology and methods?*
- How will we address the multiple experiences students bring?*
- How will we involve students in the all aspects of the assessment loop?*
- How will we develop an accountability standard for data gathering and sharing?*
- How will we increase collaboration across campus?*
- How will we address the climate of fear related to "bad news?"*
- How will we develop institutional organizing principles?*
- How will we develop a systematic approach to tracking students and their involvement- collaborative effort?*
- How will we provide incentive funds to departments/colleges to support assessment?*
- Should we develop assessment priorities (i.e. What 3-4 factors do use we want to assess in each unit/dept across the university?)?*
- How will we develop a coordinated network/work group/advisory group?*
- How will we complete the loop and share with students the results of assessment and decisions made as a result of their input?*
(*Note: List of "Next Steps" generated at the OSU Assessment Showcase in May 2001) DRAFT 4 9/9/2002