Measuring what we do, not what we have. #highered

Among the forward-thinking aspects of Affirm, Assure, Assess, Augustana’s new strategic plan, is the effort to shift our thinking from measuring what we have (i.e. student-to-faculty ratio, endowment per student, US News ranking, etc.) to what we do.  In our particular case, the president charged the Strategic Planning Task Force with developing an “outcome-oriented dashboard of indicators.”

This outcome-oriented dashboard was meant to supplement an input-oriented dashboard of indicators that has guided decision-making for the last decade. You may view Augustana’s dashboard here Augie dashboard. While it is a useful tool and does measure key performance metrics, it does little to actually measure what it is we do and seek to do at Augustana College.

With each of the eight strategic imperatives, President Bahls asked that we not only reach our goals within three to five years, but also measure success against those goals over time. Doing so will require a new measurement tool, which—unlike the current dashboard that lists inputs and their values—will measure “outputs” and outcomes, or real results. To assess our institutional effectiveness in this way, individuals and groups across campus all will have a role in measuring and contributing results.

For example, greater diversity among our employee base and student body would be evidenced by greater percentages of students indicating extent of serious conversations with people of differing race, ethnicity or values/beliefs on campus, as well as greater percentages of contact among students of different backgrounds (both in the National Survey of Student Engagement). To ensure the experiences that lead to such percentage growth, we would request evidence of actions at several levels across campus.

Three of those levels—to continue the example—would be academic affairs, academic departments and department faculty.

Faculty responsibilities would include, among others, participating in the admissions recruitment process and articulating how their courses fit into department goals and outcomes. Likewise, their department would be responsible for ensuring ongoing discussion of the department’s roles in relation to the broader college mission, and mentoring new faculty. Finally, academic affairs would review the outcomes of more intentional recruiting, teaching and mentoring to attain greater diversity through yearly department assessment reports—and then systematically gather and report this data for the national surveys.

Information gathered and assessed through our new measurement tool will be shared with all college stakeholders and the public through an annual report on Institutional Effectiveness and Mission Fulfillment. This annual reporting represents a new path for the college by aligning strategy and expectations in a new way. It also demonstrates a commitment to transparency and accountability seldom seen in higher education.

I think this is likely to be the most transformative part of the plan once people fully comprehend what we are trying to do and measure.

Working with Mark Salisbury, director of institutional research and assessment, we have inventoried our outputs, which you can review  here Effectiveness measures (mark s). As you will see, there are several areas we believe important to assess but for which we currently do not have measures. We will need to develop these in the coming months to ensure we are able to offer a clear assessment of Augustana’s effectiveness.

What do you think about the move from measuring what we have to what we do?

W. Kent Barnds

VP Enrollment, Communication and Planning


1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

One Response to Measuring what we do, not what we have. #highered

  1. Leslie DuPree

    I think it’s going to be a good challenge. Businesses and institutions usually measure what they HAVE because that’s fairly easy to do (like newspaper circulation, for example). Measuring what we DO is a much better idea but needs some yardsticks we all recognize. “Increased name recognition and brand loyalty (measure TBD) ” indeed! It would be nice if we set up yardsticks that we can use without the use of outside assistance (consultants).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *