The National Alliance of Community and Technical Colleges (NACTC) defines institutional effectiveness as the process of articulating the mission of the college, setting goals emanating from that mission, defining how the college and the community will know when goals are being met, and using the data from assessment in an ongoing cycle of goal-setting and planning (PDSA). Putting it another way, effectiveness suggests that a college has a discernible mission, is producing outcomes that meet constituency needs, and can conclusively document the outcomes it is producing as a reflection of its mission (AACC Special Report No. 4). Sinclair's eighteen (18) year history of assessment initiatives has provided a strong foundation for the institution in developing an institutional effectiveness model. Recognizing that the PDSA process is as central to institutional effectiveness as it is to the measurement of student academic achievement, Sinclair began to link its assessment process to the development of a model for institutional effectiveness.
A basic element of an effective assessment program is the identification of "critical success factors" and the design of appropriate tools to collect data which documents that the college and departments are achieving their mission and goals linked to student academic achievement. Ten "critical success factors" have been defined by the College to document how well Sinclair is achieving the goals, objectives and purposes related to student academic achievement. They include: basic skills, general education skills, learning outcomes in the major, student satisfaction, transfer success, student goal attainment, graduate placement, employer satisfaction, graduate success/satisfaction, and licensing/accreditation.
Faculty and staff have accepted the possibility of change and improvement through assessment as a challenge for excellence rather than as a threat. The exact nature of the changes and improvements that have taken place to date vary from program to program and department to department. This of course is to be expected. Each department has been empowered to establish learning outcomes, to design its own assessment instruments, and to determine the changes and improvements to be made in view of the analysis of assessment data and activities.
The extent of the changes and improvements thus far is affected by the fact that the assessment process has been implemented over a period of time. There are departments which are completing the initial phase of assessment; modifying/refining learning outcomes, developing assessment instruments, etc. Most have developed a plan and are administering assessment means for data collection. Still others are changing courses/curriculum based on their evaluations of the results of summative assessment. Some have completed one full cycle or more and are beginning to re-assess and revise learning outcomes or instruments. The significant fact is that faculty are using the assessment process to work together to change and improve and strengthen their programs. In spite of the variations in assessment techniques, the analysis of assessment data and projects often reveals that many of the changes have common themes. For instance, advisement, communication, and curriculum have been recognized by many departments as areas in need of change. The similarities in the changes, regardless of discipline, are often striking. Through their assessment projects some departments discovered that their students are not articulating the skills and knowledge required for future employment. This necessitated changes in curriculum. These changes in curriculum are just a sampling of improvements that have been implemented as a result of assessment efforts. Other efforts have resulted in changes which are distinct to their disciplines. More detailed information about changes/improvements/affirmations is located in each Department's learning outcomes report which can be accessed by clicking on the buttons above.
"How does a teacher (and his/her department) get "smarter and better" at prompting student learning? Up front, getting smarter and better has to be your goal - it all starts with an ethic of continuous improvement. Then the means follow; with clarity all around about the intended learning; with data and close observation at the classroom and curricular levels; with constant, experimental adaptation of best practices from elsewhere; with deep reflection and public conversation about results; and by making students more self aware and responsible in their role as learners.Teaching and learning, in this paradigm, are inseparable - like inhaling and exhaling. They describe an activity and an ethic of faculty and students alike. Good teachers reflect upon and seek constantly to advance their craft, thus to claim better futures for students, for the society we serve, and for ourselves as a profession."
- Ted Marchese, CHANGE Magazine, September 1995