Non-Academic Assessment for Rockland Community College

Winning Hearts and Minds:
Successful Strategies for Service
Area Assessment
Mary McLean-Scanlon
Director of Institutional Effectiveness
Michael Dunn
Coordinator of Data and Administrative Assessment
Finger Lakes Community College
A little about us…
• Mary:
• Director of IE at FLCC since August 2013. Held prior roles as Director of IE and Assistant Director of
Research and Planning for two community colleges in Chicago
• Doctoral candidate in executive leadership; Masters in political science
• Instructor for the SUNY CPD Institutional Effectiveness Program
• Adjunct political science instructor
• Mike:
• Coordinator since January 2015
• M.P.A. graduate
• Data nerd
IE is Cyclical and Interdependent
• Cyclical, documented process of continuous improvement
• Institutional Effectiveness cannot
be achieved without connection,
consistency, and commitment
between all four areas
Service Area
• Assessment: “Assessment is any effort to gather, analyze, and interpret
evidence which describes institutional, departmental, divisional or agency
effectiveness” (Upcraft and Schuh, 1996)
• Assessment is formative: ongoing; intent is to improve; process orientated
• It is NOT summative
• Assessment is NOT evaluation
• Evaluation is summative: final, arrive at a judgement or overall score
Central Themes
• Collaboration
• Leadership support
• Assessment is NOT evaluative
• Connection to budget
• Data driven decisions
Communicate the Value of Assessment
• Gets staff across departments talking about their goals for their respective departments and
• Increases our confidence that we are putting our time and resources into activities that we
value as an institution
• Gather and use data that will enable us to make decisions that lead to improved processes,
informed decision making, and efficient policies
• Have ready access to data that will meet accrediting agency requirements
• Gather and use data that will strengthen arguments for increased funding and/or resource
allocations to areas that are meeting outcomes or need resources to meet outcomes
Who is involved?
• The entire college or university community
• It is vital that every level of the organization participates in continuous
improvement and that it is modeled from the top
• Support from senior administrator is essential
• Institutional Effectiveness is sometimes an office, or it can be several offices
serving an overall purpose
• If areas are spread out, you still need someone responsible to bring them together
Best Practices
• Assessment Plan
• Program Review
• External Review
• Discovery Report
• Annual momentum
• Governance
Assessment Plan
• Assessment Plan VERSUS Operational Plan
• Goals need to align to something stable, such a learning values
Aligning with SP okay, but poses challenges
Institutional Learning Outcomes
• If technology is possible, buy it!
Trying to manage these plans in word or excel is horrible
Technology creates a collaborative environment
• Start with assessment plans for all non-academic areas
May require areas to put processes into place to collect data
• Rubric
Assessment Plan
• Components:
Implementation Strategy
Measurement Tool
Data Collection and Process
• Data is used to improve processes and drive decisions
• Determine what is working well and where can the unit improve
Program Review
• Every five years, a comprehensive review of the unit
• Critical review of resources and processes
• Goals:
• Determine what is working well and provide evidence of this
• Identify areas that could be improved and create a plan to address these
• Service as evidence for funding, staffing, technological, and space needs
Program Review Report
• Create a handbook
• Chapters:
One: History
Two: Mission, Vision, and Goals
Three: Department Resources – Personnel
Four: Department Resources – Budget
Five: Department Resources-Facilities, Technology and Equipment
Six: Outcomes
Administrative Support
• Both the assessment plans and the program review reports need to be
created collaboratively, with senior administrators approving the reports.
• We use an escalation feature in our assessment platform to do this
• Lesson learned: some cabinet members have been more supportive than
others. In divisions without cabinet support, some staff have remained
disengaged, or became disengaged, because they did not feel support from
their cabinet member
External Review
• Meetings: PRM, Department, Cabinet member, and stakeholders
• Process for choosing reviewers
• Provide:
• Manual
• Honorarium
• Template for report
• One or two day visit
• Take home report writing versus afternoon writing
Discovery Report
• AKA Closing the loop (hate that name!)
• Addresses what was learned in the process
• What areas are a strength?
• What areas could be improved?
• What resources are needed to improve?
• Use external review report as EVIDENCE of needed resources
Annual Summary Report
• Annual report completed in bulleted format that follows the same format as
the program review
• Department fills in what went on that year in each area
• This report will be used when the actual program review is written
• Major pitfalls of program reviews:
• they do not cover a full five years
• someone leaves and takes institutional memory with them
• Annual Summary Report
• Update Assessment Plan
• After program review, update on recommendations and changes in a special
section of the assessment plan
Response Letter and Presentations
• Cabinet member writes letter to unit addressing the discovery report
• Cabinet member meets with unit
• Unit has the optional opportunity to present their findings to the cabinet and
Board of Trustees
• This is highly recommended, as it strengthens arguments for funding
• Both academic and non-academic assessment should have committees that
are part of the governance process
• The chair of each of these committees is either faculty (academic) or staff
• Assessment plans and program reviews are endorsed/approved by either
Senate or College Council
Overall Challenges
Flying the plane while building it
No assessment capacity on the non-academic assessment side of the house
Not having institutional learning outcomes
No technology to support process
Not enough staff
Brand new committee with no experience
Length of process
FLCC’s Story, Cliff Note Version
Positives of this Experience
• Committee was very involved in the creation of the process
• Group One became a pilot group where we modeled “assessing the
assessment process”
• We didn’t fall into the planning rut that many college’s fall into
• Purchase of assessment software and creation of new staff position
• Very robust process has been created that many colleges (and middle states)
are impress with!