Welcome to the Office of Institutional Performance and Assessment at Florida State University!
We are dedicated to supporting the University community in our continuous improvement efforts. Our goal is to facilitate systematic, comprehensive, and data-based planning and evaluation processes focused on enhancing institutional quality and effectiveness. We believe that meaningful collaboration and genuine commitment is at the heart of our University’s excellence!
What is the purpose of Institutional Effectiveness?
Institutional Effectiveness (IE) is a cyclical planning, implementation and assessment process that allows us to evaluate whether our practices are meeting our goals. The process reinforces instructional and administrative quality and effectiveness through a systematic review of performance against FSU’s mission.
It is important to understand that we already, on a regular basis and mostly informally, evaluate and enhance how well our departments and offices provide direct and indirect support to students and faculty. Structured, formal assessment allows us to be more organized and intentional in documenting and telling the story of the valuable work we do.
The IE process is a key way to measure how well we are meeting important program goals. The main reason for IE assessment is to self-evaluate and improve services for the benefit of faculty, staff, and students. Assessment helps quantify the daily work that is put into advancing the educational mission of FSU. Assessment helps us know, for a fact, that our university services help students learn and develop as individuals and prepare them for a successful post-graduation launch. Assessment also informs us of where we are already excelling and where we need to focus next.
As a by-product and a consequence of our assessment and quality enhancement work, we also meet important expectations that various state, regional and national organizations have for FSU as an institution of higher learning. Over the last few decades, accountability for public funds has increased and expectations became more output-focused. In the state of Florida, the Board of Governors determines funding based on how well each public university meets specific student success benchmarks. IE assessment strengthens our position in demonstrating the products of our efforts to the public and campus community.
Furthermore, by engaging in the systematic, explicit and documented assessment of IE, the university meets several accreditation requirements. In the United States, regional accrediting organizations are charged with the oversight of universities’ quality and effectiveness. Federal funds, such as research grants and student financial aid, are tied to accreditation. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states, which includes FSU. SACSCOC’s accreditation standards require evidence that the university engages in genuine, systematic and ongoing reflective evaluation practices and uses the results of these assessments to enhance instructional and student support services. FSU will seek its next reaffirmation of accreditation in 2024.
“Student outcomes – both within the classroom and outside of the classroom – are the heart of the higher education experience. Effective institutions focus on the design and improvement of educational experiences to enhance student learning and support appropriate student outcomes for its educational programs and related academic and student services that support student success. To meet the goals of educational programs, an institution is always asking itself whether it has met those goals and how it can become even better” (SACSCOC Resource Manual, pages 66-67).
How do we assess Institutional Effectiveness?
IE is typically assessed at the level of individual academic, academic and student support services (A&SSS), and administrative units, which are defined as the basic units of organizational hierarchy, usually with a director as the head of the unit/office and an assessment coordinator leading the process for academic programs. A full list of units can be viewed in the IE Assessment Status Report visualization and under the Org Tree tab.
All university units define and set annual performance goals that are measured and evaluated to determine how well they performed in a given year. These goals are referred to as Program Outcomes (POs) and are the broader goals of the unit. They may either directly align with, or indirectly support, FSU Strategic Plan implementation, state funding metrics, strategic/operational plans of the unit or its division, and/or the unit’s mission, vision and values statements.
Academic units develop Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) in addition to POs that specify knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that students will attain throughout their studies in a program or in a specific course. Assessment methods and desired levels of student competencies are established in accordance with discipline-specific expectations and levels that are appropriate for post-graduation success. If appropriate, SLOs can be written to conform to the requirements of discipline-specific accrediting agency.
Who governs Institutional Effectiveness?
The Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs is responsible for the overall coordination of the university IE assessment processes. The Office of Institutional Performance and Assessment (IPA) within the Office of the Provost provides oversight, quality maintenance, training, and assistance to all reporting units during all stages of their IE assessment cycle. The final review and approval of IE assessment reports is the responsibility of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs or authorized designee(s).
At the level of individual units, the IE assessment process is a shared responsibility between the division’s senior leadership, department heads/directors, unit assessment coordinators, IE representatives, and staff members. As such, they are all involved in an annual workflow that assures that defined outcomes are appropriately designed, measured, analyzed, improved and reported in timely fashion. Each unit creates an assessment governance structure most suitable to its size and function.
Typically, for each A&SSS and administrative unit there is one assessment coordinator who leads and manages the assessment process and implementation of improvements. This individual can also function as the unit’s IE representative, who is responsible for documenting the unit’s IE assessment in the university IE portal housed in the Nuventive platform. In units with few employees, the head/director of the office can assume all three roles: function as the unit’s assessment coordinator, IE representative and the unit’s head/director who approves final IE assessment narrative. Regardless of the unit’s size, it is expected that all employees of the unit understand, provide input for, agree with, and participate in the IE assessment and improvement process.
Typically, each academic program designates one or two faculty members as assessment coordinators who lead and manage the assessment process and implementation of improvements at the level of their academic program. Prior to or shortly after academic program assessment coordinators submit the description of the IE assessment components into the IE portal, department chairs or designees review and approve the submissions. The final review and approval should be conducted by the dean of the college or authorized designee. Suggested rubrics for evaluating the IE submissions are developed and distributed by the IPA Office on its website.
Who are Institutional Effectiveness stakeholders?
The stakeholders of the Institutional Effectiveness process include FSU students, faculty and staff, as well as national, regional, and state entities.
We provide information about SLOs and POs to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. SACSCOC accreditation is required to maintain eligibility for federal funding, including student financial aid and research grants.
Per Regulation 8.016, Florida Board of Governors (BOG) requires all institutions in the State University System of Florida to establish a process for certifying that each baccalaureate graduate has completed a program with clearly articulated expected core student learning outcomes. These outcomes constitute state-mandated Academic Learning Compacts (ALCs).
Many national discipline-specific accrediting bodies also require FSU academic programs to document and achieve a range of student educational outcomes and to provide evidence of efforts toward continuous improvement.