The Office of Institutional Effectiveness (IE) supports a university-wide effort to promote data-informed decision making that leads to institutional improvement and enhanced student learning. To do this, the office also assists the campus community in the areas of accreditation, assessment, analysis, training, and information dissemination.
This year, Institutional Effectiveness (IE) continued its tradition of affirming accomplishment through assessment on Assessment Day. On Wednesday, April 10, academic departments administered their own assessments (with IE handling the logistical details). Twenty co-curricular departments administered online surveys, and 13 conducted a focus group with an overall survey response rate of 52.3 percent, 6,502 survey respondents, and an average of 325 respondents per survey.
IE was pleased to have more departments interested in participating in a survey and/or focus group this year. Departments can use this information to make improvements to services or programs that directly impact students.
Several $100 and $50 gift cards, four iPads, four iPod Touch devices, sixteen Nooks, and a Wii U console were awarded to randomly selected participants.
This year, more students used handheld devices to respond to the online surveys. Twenty percent of all survey responses came from electronics such as iPhones or iPads.
To keep up with the latest in higher-education research, planning, and assessment, and to network with personnel from other universities and accrediting agencies, the Institutional Effectiveness (IE) staff participates in conferences each year.
In October, five IE staff members attended the 2012 Assessment Institute at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). This national conference features pioneering voices in assessment such as Trudy Banta and Thomas A. Angelo. Topics such as “how to implement key performance indicators (KPI’s) at your institution” were discussed.
Three IE staff members — Dr. David Barton, Liz Pyburn, and Charlie Goss — presented at the 2012 Virginia Assessment Group Conference in Richmond. The presentation, “Let the Data Tell the Story: Effective Practices in Presentation of Assessment Data,” covered how to effectively display quantitative and qualitative data in a table.
In January, two IE staff members attended the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Atlanta. The theme of the conference was “The Quality of U.S. Degrees.” In addition, IE staff members attended two-day Skillpath® training seminars covering Microsoft Project Management and Advanced Microsoft Excel Techniques.
Connections 2013 at Virginia Tech provided an opportunity to network with assessment specialists throughout the state. The annual session of the Virginia Association for Management Analysis and Planning (VAMAP) was particularly important this year. The conference, titled “The Three A’s to SACS—Assessment, Analyses, and Accreditation,” featured a special presentation by David Smith, one of the SACS vice presidents. IE staff members had an opportunity to spend time conferring with Dr. Smith regarding expectations for the upcoming SACS 2015 Compliance Certification Report.
Are students and faculty really engaged in academic life?
The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) are designed to gather information which helps universities find answers to this question.
The NSSE measures the engagement levels of both resident and online freshman and seniors, and the FSSE asks faculty members to report on their perceptions of student engagement. Levels of student engagement on campus can reveal how students are spending their time and what they gain from attending college.
While this is the third time Liberty has administered the NSSE, it is the first time that IE has administered the FSSE. The FSSE has been sent to all resident and online faculty who are teaching at least one undergraduate course. IE has purchased two additional modules for both surveys that will allow for the collection of information regarding civic engagement and learning with technology.
So far, the NSSE response rate is above 50 percent and the FSSE response rate is above 65 percent. These are well within the range of acceptability for national assessments. Once the surveys close, IE will compile a combined NSSE-FSSE report. This information will be available to departments for analysis during the summer.
With the recent implementation of the Campus Labs® Compliance Assist module, many co-curricular offices such as Financial Aid are looking to get involved in documenting outcomes and assessments in the Planning module.
Skip Kastroll, director of assessment, is conducting Planning module training sessions on a bi-weekly basis. Anyone interested can sign up for training via the Pro Dev Portal.
In addition, IE is always working to make the planning module even easier to use. Charlie Goss, an assessment specialist, has developed a unique numbering system which helps organize the Planning workspace logically.
For instance, all unit purposes are numbered 100, and all goals are in the 200s. Also, IE is in the process of implementing new dropdown lists including SACS standards and strategic plan goals.
Strategic plans are a vital part of any organization. Recently, the chancellor approved and the Board of Trustees adopted six new themes for the upcoming 2014-2017 Strategic Plan. The themes are:
· Technological and Operational Efficiency
· Advancing Academic Reputation
· Student Access and Success
· Financial and Physical Appreciation
· Capitalizing on Human Potential
· Fostering an Integration of Christian Worldview
The new strategic plan will cover a period of three years. Institutional Effectiveness will provide support over the next several months to vice presidents and deans as they write goals, outcomes, and targets appropriate for their areas of responsibility.
Over the summer, Institutional Effectiveness will provide training that will cover the strategic plan timeline, accessing environmental scan and strategic planning resources, and more. Interested individuals can sign up in the Pro Dev portal.
The deadline for submission of goals, outcomes, and targets to IE is 4 p.m. on September 13. The vice presidents and deans will then have approximately three weeks to participate in a peer review of one another’s materials. Final drafts will be submitted to IE by October 25. A one-day strategic planning retreat will then be held to compile the new plan.
Where would an institution be without policies to guide it? In an effort to document policies more effectively, Institutional Effectiveness and the Business Intelligence Office (BIO) are looking into various software options which would provide a central location to store wide-ranging policies for quick access. Currently, no such central manual exists. A SharePoint form will collect the policies and allow for correcting and reviewing of each as needed.
IE is looking to implement the online policy manual in the fall.
Recently, Institutional Effectiveness (IE) welcomed three new staff members: Robert Talley, James Copeland, and Bryan Frye. Talley is an assistant director for institutional assessment and comes with experience in assessment, course writing, teaching, and faculty development in an adult and online learning context. He is currently a doctoral student in apologetics and theology. Additionally, he has worked as a pastor in the United States and as a missionary church-planter in Europe.
Copeland is also an assistant director for institutional assessment. He came to IE from the Army ROTC Office where he worked as an assistant professor of military science. He holds a master of divinity and a management information systems degree. In addition, he is a licensed pastor at Lynchburg First Church of the Nazarene.
Frye is IE’s first policy specialist. He will support the process by which university policies are developed and approved. He will also be responsible for posting new and revised policies on the soon-to-be completed electronic policy manual. He earned his B.S. in history from Liberty is currently working toward completing his M.B.A.
Institutional Effectiveness (IE) has developed an article on the Campus Labs software package that can be found in the Ask L.U.K.E. IT Knowledge Base. The article explains the intended tasks and users of each module, training, and how to navigate the planning module.
Access the article.
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Congratulations to Assessment Coordinators Sean Beavers and Shelah Simpson for winning the 2012-13 Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching. While assessment can be a very demanding responsibility, these two coordinators demonstrate that the work does not need to interfere with instructional excellence.
Dr. Beavers is an associate professor of music as well as the assessment coordinator for the Music and Performing Arts Department. Ms. Simpson is an assistant professor of English and serves as the assessment coordinator for the English and Modern Languages Department. She organizes the assessment of four bachelor programs and three minors.