If we always do what we’ve always done, we will get what we’ve always got. ― Adam Urbanski
Why Should Administrative Offices Conduct Assessment?
Each administrative unit has a unique role at the college – a distinct and important mission. But, how do we know if our mission at the college is being met? In higher education, there is a growing need for a culture among administrative offices that values self-examination, strategic planning, evidence-based decision-making, and the continuous pursuit of excellence.
“The effectiveness of the University relies on the contribution that each of the University’s programs and services makes towards achieving the goals of the institution as a whole.” – MSCHE Standard VII
Engaging in administrative assessment affords staff the opportunity to identify challenges, address concerns, and be more deliberate about solutions. The process can also improve office moral, provide opportunities for professional development, and offer evidence for needed resources. Moreover, by systematically improving the quality of our services and operations, administrative assessment contributes to overall institutional effectiveness.
The Administrative Assessment Process
Assessment encourages us to reflect on how well we are meeting our goals and directs our efforts towards meaningful improvement. Administrative assessment is a process by which the non-instructional areas of the college (including student-support and non-student-facing offices) engage in and document cycles of continuous improvement. Because assessment is crucial to the effectiveness of the college and the success of its students, all administrative offices at QC engage in assessment.
Essentially, the administrative assessment process addresses the following questions:
What are we trying to accomplish and why?
How well are we doing it?
How can the student experience be improved?
How can we improve current processes?
(Adapted from Hutchings & Marchese, 1990)
The assessment process begins with articulating a mission statement, establishing the goals of the office, and setting measurable objectives. Importantly, this first phase is conducted from a student-centered perspective. An office then conducts an assessment activity, which entails gathering and analyzing data. An assessment cycle is completed when an office closes the loop, or uses assessment findings to inform and document decisions that will lead to improvements in operations and/or the student experience.
Support for Administrative Assessment
The Office of Institutional Effectiveness (OIE) aims to promote a culture that values self-examination, evidence-based decision-making, and the continuous pursuit of excellence. As such, OIE offers guidance to support the assessment efforts of administrative offices across the college, including:
- Orientation to the administrative assessment process
- Coaching and assessment methods expertise
- Feedback and editing support on missions, goals, and project planning
- Data analysis and data displays
- Survey development
Administrative Assessment FAQs
What is a mission statement?
A mission statement is a general statement that succinctly outlines the overall purpose and function of the unit at the college. Mission statements describe what the unit does and for whom, and every unit’s mission should be aligned with the college’s mission. Mission statements change only in the event of fundamental changes to the role or purpose of the administrative unit.
To learn more, see our Mission Statement Worksheet.
How are goals different from objectives?
Goals are broad statements about the desired ends to which a unit aspires—a vision for how the unit will fulfill its mission. Goals should align directly with the unit’s mission statement. Together, the goals of a unit form a comprehensive outline of the unit’s main functions and make explicit a unit’s operational goals and student goals. Hence, goals are more specific than mission statements, but still general enough that an office can use them for many years. Essentially, mission goals provide direction for the unit when setting measurable objectives.
An objective is a specific, measurable step that can be taken to meet a goal. Often, objectives describe how a goal will be accomplished – the intended outcomes of activities or processes that have been implemented to make progress towards a mission goal. To learn more, see our Goals and Objectives Worksheet.
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What are some tips for designing an administrative assessment activity?
- Involve all members of your staff in the process of establishing a mission statement, and office goals and objectives. Staff participation and ownership are key to effective assessment.
- Write clearly and concisely. Do not use jargon or professional terms that someone outside your area of expertise will not understand.
- Be sure that your goals and objectives are not tasks. Why is it important to you to complete a certain task? That is likely your objective.
- Be sure that your objectives are measurable. How will you know that the objective has been achieved?
- After the mission, goals and objectives have been established, use our logic modeling and assessment activity planning worksheets to describe an assessment activity in terms of concrete steps.
- Provide at least one direct measure for each objective being assessed.
- If you cannot specifically describe how the findings from your assessment activities can be used to improve your program, services or operations, reconsider your proposed means of assessment.
- Think about how assessment findings will be used to ‘close the loop’. Showing how the results of assessment are used for improvement is the most critical component of an assessment report.
Is there a single document I can refer to for guidance on the assessment process?
All QC forms and worksheets may be accessed via the Guidelines for Administrative Assessment.
For questions related to other assessment activities, see our Frequently Asked Questions page.