8.2 OUTCOMES ASSESSMENT
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.
a. Student learning outcomes for each of its educational programs. (Student outcomes: educational programs)
b. Student learning outcomes for collegiate-level general competencies of its undergraduate degree programs. (Student outcomes: general education)
c. Academic and student services that support student success. (Student outcomes: academic and student services)
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is in compliance with this standard because it has in place a systematic and sustainable process for assessing all academic programs, student support programs, and administrative units. As a result of its commitment to continuous improvement, all academic degree programs and free-standing certificates are annually assessed to determine the extent to which program outcomes and student learning outcomes are being met.
Each student support unit, for example, the Division of Student Affairs and the Center for Academic Excellence are also assessed annually as are all the administrative units on the campus. All assessment data are archived in the outcomes-based assessment tool Taskstream. The assessment reports that are provided in Sections 8.2.a, 8.2.b and 8.2.c demonstrate the attention that is given to assessment and the use of assessment results in improving performance at the university.
The university follows the definition of Institutional Effectiveness offered by SACSCOC, which is "the systematic, explicit, and documented process of measuring performance against mission in all aspects of an institution." The Provost appoints an Institutional Effectiveness Council (IEC), with members from each college and a cross-section of non-academic units, and appoints the Vice Provost for Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness as the chair of IEC. The IEC provides guidance, training, and technical support for the university’s assessment processes. The composition of the IEC is provided in the Charge Letter.
The elements of the university’s assessment process mirror the ones provided in the SACSCOS Resource Manual, p. 67. The university typically sets goals and outcomes as a part of its strategic planning process, done approximately every five years. The most recent planning process was completed in August 2018, leading to A&T Preeminence: Taking the Momentum to 2023; the prior one was completed in July 2011, and led to A&T Preeminence 2020: Embracing Our Past, Creating Our Future. Following the university’s planning process, each unit within the institution updates/refreshes its strategic plan. The strategic planning process is supervised by the Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness (OSPIE) and includes a very broad-based strategic planning committee that is appointed and charged by the Chancellor. The most recent strategic planning committee was co-chaired by the Provost and the Vice Provost of OSPIE. A consultant was engaged to guide the university’s strategic planning process. OSPIE guides the strategic planning processes for the units and provides the technical assistance needed.
OSPIE is responsible for monitoring the strategic plans, gathering and archiving assessment data, and ensuring that all units, including the academic units, are annually gathering assessment data, reviewing the data as units, and using the results to drive improvements.
Step 1: Identify expected outcomes. Outcomes are determined and documented at the level of the unit—typically an academic department or an administrative or student support division. The process in the academic units (departments) includes all faculty members, working with the Department Chairs, in each department. At the Divisions and their sub-units, a broad cross-section of administrators and staff members work together to establish the goals and outcomes, and this is usually done as a part of their strategic planning process. This process includes setting performance targets, which often remain in place for approximately five years, though they are sometimes adjusted earlier based on the progress being made in achieving the goals.
Step 2: Identify appropriate ways to measure the outcomes. The measurements/metrics are determined for each outcome and a timeline is established for gathering the data, usually once per year. The IEC monitors to ensure that assessments are done in a timely manner and the data stored in Taskstream.
Step 3: Assess achievement of the outcomes. In the case of the academic programs, assessment data are gathered with the assistance of faculty who teach the courses. Program-level data, e.g., retention and graduation rates, are calculated by the Institutional Research Unit and provided to the academic programs. Administrative and student support units gather data in a variety of ways, depending on the outcomes that are being measured. The assessment reports explain how the data were gathered and the intervals at which this was done.
Step 4: Determine what the results mean. Each unit, from mid-summer to early fall, when annual retreats are held, take time to review its assessment data and make plans for improvements. Academic units tend to perform this function at the beginning of the fall semester, when faculty are beginning the new academic year. Most data are not available until after the spring semester ends.
Step 5: Use the results to drive improvements. Unit teams determine which initiatives will be added, removed, or scaled up to help ensure the desired results.
Step 6: Repeat the process, annually. The process is repeated, beginning at Step 2 or at Step 3, and includes monitoring and measuring of the new initiatives that are geared at improvements.
1. Charge Letter to the Institutional Effectiveness Council
2. Preeminence 2020—the Former Strategic Plan
3. Preeminence 2023—the Current Strategic Plan