In 2008, President William R. Harvey charged the Vice President for Administrative Services with developing a “Comprehensive Plan for the Implementation of a Sustainable Institutional Effectiveness System using an on-going program of assessment for all academic and non-academic areas.” It was noted that such a system must incorporate means for assessing continuous improvements within and across all areas and incorporate the University’s current and future Integrated Strategic Planning process.
The Plan presented was designed to address these areas while presenting a detailed approach for the actual implementation, taking into consideration all deadlines pertaining to institutional and programmatic accrediting agency review cycles. Specific recommendations were:
- That the planning and data gathering system be maintained with the addition of an assessment component and the elimination of hard copy submissions.
- That all reporting be incorporated into an automated system for
- Data collection from all academic and non-academic units,
- Assessment of outcomes/results from all academic and non-academic units,
- Documenting all academic unit Intended Student Learning Outcomes, and
- Documenting quality improvement through Key Performance Indicators in support of university goals.
- It was also recommended that the University create or adopt the use of an Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment Principles, Resources and Procedures Manual.
The University was already engaged in extensive annual program planning and outcomes reporting activities but needed a way to assess how well outcomes were being achieved and to what extent plans were developed that would initiate continuous improvement throughout the system
Institutionalizing the above recommendations meant implementing a data management and assessment system for the purpose of continuous improvement, thus addressing the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools (SACS) Core Requirement 2.5 (and SACS Resource Manual for the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement, SC 184.108.40.206 [Student Learning Outcomes] March 2012):
“The institution engages in ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide research-based planning and evaluation processes that (1) incorporate a systematic review of institutional mission, goals, and outcomes; (2) result in continuing improvement in institutional quality; and (3) demonstrate the institution is effectively accomplishing its mission. (Institutional Effectiveness)
Institutionalization of this system also meant that a sustainable process would be in place that allowed for the most extensive unit, programmatic, AND institution-wide reporting and monitoring of Student Learning Outcomes and Key Performance Indicators.
In conjunction with the Office of the Provost, research was conducted by a campus-wide committee on several data management systems. Namely, 1) BlackBoard’s OutcomesSystem, 2) Datatel, 3) Chalk and Wire, 4) LiveText, 5) Nuventive’s TracDat, 6) TK-20 CampusTools, and 7) Weaveonline. The two with the most promise were Nuventive’s Tracdat and TK-20’s CampusTools. The campus constituents voted overwhelmingly for TracDat for several reasons:
- It has been around longer than all the other programs (1998).
- It was being used in higher education institutions around the world, including Colleges and Universities in the United States,
- It was the system that was recommended by SACS,
- It was available through SunGuarde Banner,
- Tracdat was highly adaptable in fitting HU’s existing systems for planning and assessment.
- It would be up and running in time for accreditation reviews beginning Fall 2008.
- Equally as important, it had a proven track record, it was affordable, and the data would remain housed on-campus.
An Implementation Team was established in 2008 to implement the charge from the President. This team met and continues to meet every Wednesday morning throughout the academic year, including summers. The Team has:
- Conducted training sessions for faculty – on TracDat and Intended Student-Learner Outcomes
- Created and published Tutorials for data entry into TracDat
- Published a case-study on the Implementation of TracDat
- Established and trained Assessment Facilitators throughout all academic units
- Established and trained a TracDat Oversight Committee to monitor correct data entry
- Held TracDat workshops during faculty Institutes
- Appointed school representatives to attend TracDat Planning meetings once monthly.
- Coordinated the academic deans in the establishment of core standards for measuring Key Performance Indicators: 1) Increased Research, 2) Quality Teaching, 3) Student Recruitment, 4) Increased Fundraising, and 5) Service.
Fall 2013 Update
To date, October 2013, the University’s Data Management and Assessment System has become institutionalized.
- All Academic and Non-Academic Units are submitting updated data on Key Performance Indicators and Intended Student-Learning Outcomes every six months
- The system is designed to incorporate and report annually on the implementation of the University’s Strategic Plan
- Data in TracDat is set up beginning with the University’s Mission Statement followed by
- Office of the Provost Mission and General Education objectives and Intended Student Learning Outcomes
- Quality Enhancement Plan – Objectives, Intended Student Learning Outcomes, Assessment Methodologies and Results/Outcomes
- School / Colleges – Overall Objectives and Intended Student Learning Outcomes
- Academic Program specific – Objectives, Intended Student Learning Outcomes, Assessment Methodologies and Outcomes/Results.