Florida Gulf Coast University |
SACS Self Study Report
Section III Institutional Effectiveness
IntroductionThe concept of institutional effectiveness is at the heart of the Commission's philosophy of accreditation and is central to institutional programs and operations. It pervades the Criteria for Accreditation. This concept presumes that each member institution is engaged in an ongoing quest for quality and can demonstrate how well it fulfills its stated purpose. The quality and effectiveness of education provided by each member institution are major considerations in accreditation decisions. Although evaluation of educational quality and effectiveness is a difficult task requiring careful analysis and professional judgment, each member institution is expected to document quality and effectiveness by employing a comprehensive system of planning and evaluation in all major aspects of the institution.
The Commission advocates no single interpretation of the concept of institutional effectiveness. It does, however, expect each member institution to develop a broad-based system to determine institutional effectiveness appropriate to its own context and purpose, to use the purpose statement as the foundation of planning and evaluation, to employ a variety of assessment methods, and to demonstrate use of the results of the planning and evaluation process for the improvement of both educational programs and support activities. Educational quality will be judged finally by how effectively the institution achieves its established goals.
The following three sections Institutional Effectiveness at FGCU, Planning, and Assessment Activities summarize the overall FGCU commitment to institutional effectiveness and planning and provide a description of major assessment activities undertaken to date. It should be noted that, as a new institution, assessment activities began before the formal opening of the university and before the development of the Institutional Effectiveness Plan. The university's institutional effectiveness procedures have now begun to embrace evaluation activities started earlier and to coordinate and advance the entire evaluation process.
Institutional Effectiveness at FGCU
Florida Gulf Coast University has been conceived and developed as an institution that considers institutional effectiveness as one of its core values. Indeed, one of the university's eight guiding principles, developed early in the university's existence, affirms the centrality of institutional effectiveness:
Assessment of all functions is necessary for improvement and continual renewal. The university is committed to accounting for its effectiveness through the use of comprehensive and systematic assessment. Tradition is challenged; the status quo is questioned; change is implemented.
Structurally, the university is organized to reflect this principle. A separate Office of Planning and Evaluation, at the dean level, has been created to ensure that institutional effectiveness remains a visible and significant aspect of the university's culture. The mission of the Office of Planning and Evaluation clearly identifies its role:
The Office of Planning and Evaluation (OPE), a unit within Academic Affairs, uses both planning strategies and assessment to assist the university to provide excellent educational programs and services and to achieve accreditation. In fostering accountability and excellence, the OPE provides guidance and mechanisms for assessment in such areas as educational outcomes, effectiveness in teaching and learning, distance learning, and faculty productivity. Through its institutional research function, the OPE provides university management with information and analysis that supports planning, policy formation, and decision making. The OPE coordinates responses to inquiries for university-related information and is the repository for official university data.
To begin to formally operationalize the guiding principle on assessment, the dean of planning and evaluation convened an Institutional Effectiveness Task Force in the summer of 1997 to guide the development of an institutional effectiveness plan. The task force, which included representatives from the faculty, administration, and student body, developed the Florida Gulf Coast University Institutional Effectiveness Plan. Adopted in September 1997, the plan broadly outlined the university's institutional effectiveness process and established a standing Institutional Effectiveness Committee, with representation from the faculty, administration, and student body. The plan, asserts that the university as a whole and its component units/operations, are required to establish missions, formulate goals, assess the attainment of goals, and use the evaluation results to enhance operations. In addition, the plan calls for an integration of the evaluations required internally and those mandated externally by the state or by professional accrediting agencies to avoid duplication of effort and to maintain coherence of assessment activities. As these external mandates become effective in the future, the Institutional Effectiveness Committee will play a major role in assuring the use of evaluation results for improvement of programs and operations.
Since its creation, the Institutional Effectiveness Committee has played a prominent role in operationalizing the Institutional Effectiveness Plan. It has also provided oversight in the process of reviewing the institution's mission and in the creation of university-wide goals. Following is a description of how the mission and goals were reviewed and approved.
The SACS Candidacy Committee, in its October 1997 report, suggested that Florida Gulf Coast University consider consolidating its founding mission statement and guiding principles. The university's Self-Study Institutional Purpose Committee was charged with beginning this task in February 1998. That committee convened a University Goals Forum, consisting of 45 faculty, administrators, staff, and students, to review the mission and begin the process of developing university-wide goals. The forum affirmed all the elements of the founding mission, except the statement limiting graduate enrollment to 15 percent of total enrollment. In addition, 25 draft goals were identified and subsequently edited by a writing team composed of faculty and staff. In March 1998, the Self-Study Institutional Purpose Committee presented the consolidated mission/guiding principles statement and nine university-wide goals to the Steering Committee. This committee charged the Institutional Effectiveness Committee to develop a process for review of the consolidated mission statement, subsequently named the vision, purpose, and Commitment statement and the university goals. Both documents were reviewed by the faculty and deans. The Institutional Effectiveness Committee did a final review and revision of these two documents and submitted them to the Executive Staff for final approval. The Executive Staff approved the vision, purpose, and commitment statement on August 11, 1998, and the university goals on November 4, 1998.
As a member of the State University System (SUS) of Florida, most of Florida Gulf Coast University's planning in the area of educational programs and support services is conducted within the context of state initiatives.
In 1992, the State University System of Florida adopted the Ten Year Development Plan for a New University in Southwest Florida based on BOR recommendations made in January 1991. The Ten Year Development Plan for a New University in Southwest Florida outlined programs underway at the Fort Myers campus of the University of South Florida and programs to begin at the new university. Additionally, it focused on faculty selection and transition, staff transition, long range enrollment planning, library plans, continuing and extended education, weekend college program, distance learning, accreditation, international perspective, and public service. The mission statement, approved by the BOR in September 1991, served as the basis for recommendations and decisions.
The Board of Regents mandates several planning and evaluation processes and guides overall system-wide development for all universities within the SUS. Other Board of Regents mandated plans include the Strategic Plan, the Enrollment Plan, the Facilities Master Plan, the Comprehensive Campus Master Plan, and the Information Resources Management Plan. The enrollment plan includes projections for each institution by student level. This plan is used to forecast statewide budget needs since enrollment is a major parameter in establishing funding levels for each university. The Strategic Plan outlines educational goals for the SUS system and is the mechanism by which each institution determines the new degree programs it will initiate in the future. The Facilities Master Plan is tied to both the Enrollment Plan and the Strategic Plan since changes in either programs or enrollments affect facilities needs. Unlike existing universities where new buildings must be designed to coordinate with existing buildings, Florida Gulf Coast University was constructed on an undeveloped parcel of land. Consequently, the development on the campus defines a spatial organization around which the campus can grow and develop. The construction of the campus was planned to start at the "great space" located at the center of the academic core so that, from opening day, the university will have a strong sense of place and its own special character. The physical development of the campus incorporates all aspects of the university mission, enrollment, programs, services, and work force.
As indicated above, institutional effectiveness has been an underlying value of the university from its inception. Thus, even before the Institutional Effectiveness Plan and Institutional Effectiveness Committee were established, assessment activities were conducted as needed by different offices or units of the university. Following is a sample of assessment activities that have been undertaken to date. Others are described in Sections 3.1 Planning and Evaluation: Educational Programs and 3.2 Planning and Evaluation: Administrative and Educational Support Services.
Needs Surveys. Prior to Florida Gulf Coast University's opening, the university, concerned that programs and curricula should respond to the needs of the five-county area, retained the Florida Atlantic University/Florida International University Joint Center for Environmental and Urban Problems to develop a demographic profile of the region, and to conduct needs analyses. The FAU/FIU Joint Center Academic Program Needs Assessment for Florida Gulf Coast University Final Report presented baseline demographic data for the region. An enrollment analysis reviewed, inter alia, aspects of enrollment in state universities, nearby community colleges, and private universities. Academic programs authorized by the Board of Regents for Florida Gulf Coast University were described and articulation with Edison Community College was discussed. The report ended with a needs and cost analysis of academic programs.
Between March 1994 and May 1996, a consultant to Florida Gulf Coast University conducted research to identify regional needs in allied health, criminology and criminal justice, and education. Findings are presented in three reports: Program Needs in Allied Health (September 1994), Program Needs in Criminology and Criminal Justice (June 1995), and Community Perceptions of Program Needs in Education (June 1996).
Deans and faculty members arriving at Florida Gulf Coast University for the opening of the campus (fall 1997) made extensive use of both the joint center's final report and the program needs reports. The findings and recommendations of these reports were an important factor in devising programs and developing curricula at undergraduate and graduate levels.
Course Evaluation. To emphasize the inter-relatedness of knowledge across disciplines, Florida Gulf Coast University created a university colloquium, which involves students from all four colleges in an interdisciplinary learning experience. This required course has been offered every semester. To evaluate the colloquium, faculty worked with the Office of Planning and Evaluation to design and administer tests and surveys. Some tests have measured student attitudes to the colloquium. The survey model, refined over the past year, uses a pre- and post-test design, with a control group, and seeks to measure the effect the colloquium had on student learning.
Student Evaluations and Surveys. Florida Gulf Coast University also utilizes the findings of end-of-semester evaluations of faculty and courses by students. These are conducted for every course taught at the university. Results of the surveys are used in evaluation of faculty teaching.
The FGCU annual survey of students, faculty, and staff was implemented in spring 1998. Survey results have been distributed throughout the university and have been used particularly for the SACS self-study.
In addition, freshmen entering in fall 1997 and fall 1998 participated in the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) Freshman Orientation Survey. In fall 1998, questions specific to Florida Gulf Coast University were also asked. These questions dealt with several issues including computer literacy and Internet use; reasons for electing to enroll at Florida Gulf Coast University; plans to enroll in distance learning courses; sources of information about the university; preferences related to residence on campus, class times, and extra-mural programs; and quality of service received from the Office of Admissions, Registration and Records.
Performance Evaluation of all Deans, Directors, and Chairs. In spring 1998, the Office of Planning and Evaluation conducted performance evaluations of deans, directors, and chairs. Results are used in the evaluation of the academic administrators by supervisors.
Study of Advising. The Office of Planning and Evaluation, after studying the results of the FGCU annual survey, decided that student advising warranted closer consideration. Interviews with certain advisers and others related to the process were held, and these enabled investigators to develop a model of the existing process and generate a further set of questions about advising. These questions were used later in a focus group session in which all Florida Gulf Coast University advisers participated.
A report, entitled An Examination of the Academic Advising Process at Florida Gulf Coast University, was prepared and presented to deans. It contained a brief presentation of student responses to the spring 1998 surveys, a synopsis of the interviews, a timeline describing the advising process, the original/improved models of the process derived from interviewees' descriptions, a report of the focus group investigation, insights about enhancing the quality of student advising derived from these responses, and a discussion of advising in relation to the marketing of the university. Investigators recommended that fuller attention be paid to advising, in particular to facilitating, supporting, and enhancing the process.
The Deans Council reviewed the university's advising procedures in the light of these observations. A special committee consisting of the four college deans and the dean of student services was established with a view toward establishing a more effective advising operation and, in particular, ensuring proper articulation between advising done at the lower and upper divisions.
With the establishment of the institutional effectiveness process, orderly and rational assessment procedures have been implemented. Sections 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3 of the Self-Study Report will examine operationalizing the Institutional Effectiveness Plan in the areas of educational programs and administration and educational support services, as well as the area of institutional research.
3.1 Planning and Evaluation: Educational Programs
DescriptionEducational activities of an institution include teaching, research and public service. Planning and evaluation for these activities must be systematic, broad-based, interrelated and appropriate to the institution. The institution must define its expected educational results and describe its methods for analyzing the results. The institution must:
1. establish a clearly defined purpose appropriate to collegiate education,
2. formulate educational goals consistent with the institution's purpose,
3. develop and implement procedures to evaluate the extent to which these educational goals are being achieved, and
4. use the results of these evaluations to improve educational programs, services and operations.
The institution must develop guidelines and procedures to evaluate educational effectiveness, including the quality of student learning and of research and service. This evaluation must encompass educational goals at all academic levels and research and service functions of the institution. The evaluation of academic programs should involve gathering and analyzing both quantitative and qualitative data that demonstrate student achievement.
Measures to evaluate academic programs and general education may include the following: evaluation of instructional delivery; adequacy of facilities and equipment; standardized tests; analysis of theses, portfolios, and recitals; completion rates; results of admissions tests for students applying to graduate or professional schools, job placement rates; results of licensing examinations; evaluations by employers; follow-up studies of alumni; and performance of student transfers at receiving institutions. The institution must evaluate its success with respect to student achievement in relation to purpose, including, as appropriate, consideration of course completion, state licensing examinations, and job placement rates.
With the assistance of the Institutional Effectiveness Committee, the Office of Planning and Evaluation is working with the major units of the university to ensure, in accordance with the FGCU Institutional Effectiveness Plan, that units at all levels have appropriate missions and goals and that these are properly linked to the university's mission and goals. The first phase of this process began in the spring of 1997.
During March 1997, the Office of Planning and Evaluation sponsored a workshop on institutional effectiveness and assessment strategy development. Dr. Jim Nichols, director of university planning and institutional research at the University of Mississippi, conducted the workshop. Each unit leader within the university attended. The workshop provided a model matrix for goals development tied to the university mission. An assessment plan for three to five goals per year was proposed to include a feedback process for continuous program improvement. As of October 1997, most educational programs had submitted their department mission statement, objectives, and means of assessment. Examples of assessment measures included, but were not limited to, evaluation of instruction, standardized tests, completion rates, course completion, and state licensing examinations.
The educational programs that did not have their mission statement, objectives, and means of assessment completed by October 1997, provided a statement regarding the timeline and plan for their completion. An institutional effectiveness folder was established on the 'fgcu-marlin' share drive to maintain the reports from each educational program.
Beginning in summer 1998, the Office of Planning and Evaluation began the second phase of the process. This phase began with a review of existing unit missions and goals and an examination of how the evaluation process has proceeded in each unit. The second step consists of meetings between planning and evaluation staff and the 12 major university units (president, vice presidents, and deans) to update all unit missions and goals and to move forward with evaluations and plans for use of data for enhancement of performance. The Office of Planning and Evaluation reports regularly regarding these activities to the Institutional Effectiveness Committee, which monitors the process.
In addition to establishing goals for each individual unit, the university has developed student learning outcomes for both undergraduate and graduate students, and it is expected that these outcomes will be linked to academic programs.
From October 1996 to January 1997, a focus group of faculty members worked on refining undergraduate student learning outcomes (initially developed by academic administrators) that were tied to university's guiding principles. A writing group was established to develop the outcomes determined by the focus group. The Florida Gulf Coast University faculty approved the student learning outcomes in January 1997. These university-wide outcomes are the framework within which the colleges and departments are developing undergraduate program and course outcomes. In developing undergraduate courses and programs, Florida Gulf Coast University is giving attention to integration of instructional and assessment activities to ensure that students will master the prescribed learning outcomes.
The Graduate Curriculum Team began work on the graduate student learning outcomes in spring 1997. The final version of the goals was reviewed and adopted by the Faculty Senate in January 1998. To date, faculty in the graduate programs have generally been dealing with professional accreditation and certification issues and consequently have not yet linked the graduate student learning outcomes with their programs.
The evaluation of the university's teaching, scholarship, and service is conducted through the process established in the Faculty Performance Evaluation Document (FPED), developed by the faculty. This process was extensively debated by the faculty within the context of the university's mission that emphasizes the centrality of teaching.
As a comprehensive public university, Florida Gulf Coast University embraces the tripartite responsibility of teaching, scholarship, and service. The FPED notes that "while teaching is central to the university's mission, individual faculty members may engage in the activities of teaching, scholarship, and services in different degrees and intensities." It further indicates that the expectations in each of these areas will be documented in each faculty member's Professional Development Plan. Each college has developed specific performance expectations or desired outcomes in the areas of teaching, scholarship, and service. Faculty teaching, scholarship, and service are evaluated in accordance with these criteria.
The FPED also stresses the importance of objective evaluation. It affirms that "to ensure quality and equity, faculty evaluations must include peer reviews and appropriate validation procedures," and further that "this principle applies to all areas of evaluation, including teaching, scholarship, and service."
A major focus of the Florida Gulf Coast University mission involves the use of distance learning. Prior to opening and during the first year of operation, each college had worked independently on its distance learning goals, identifying programs and courses that would be offered through distance learning. In the fall of 1997, a Distance Learning Task Force was convened to develop a university-wide strategic plan for distance learning. In June 1998 a draft of the Distance Learning Strategic Plan was reviewed by a panel of consultants, members of the faculty, the Deans Council, and the Executive Staff. The consultants presented recommendations to the president for operationalizing the plan. The plan was approved by the president, and work is now underway on the establishment of indicators for each of the goals in the plan and a timeline for implementation.
The FGCU annual survey, conducted in March 1997, showed that 98 percent of the faculty, 84 percent of the staff, and 56 percent of the students were familiar with the Florida Gulf Coast University mission statement. Fifty-three percent of the faculty, 61 percent of the staff, and 60 percent of the students reported that they had had the opportunity to participate in the development of Florida Gulf Coast University's mission, goals, and/or outcome measures. When asked if the overall planning at Florida Gulf Coast University was effective, 48 percent of the faculty, 66 percent of the staff, and 79 percent of the students indicated agreement. Only 30 percent of the students stated that the mission was an important consideration in choosing Florida Gulf Coast University.
The Institutional Effectiveness Plan requires each educational unit to develop a plan for evaluation. As of October 1997, most educational programs had developed:
1. The unit mission statement, based on the broader institutional mission statement.
2. The intended educational objectives.
3. The means of assessment for success.
The next stage in the process is to review and update the current plans to ensure that all units are participating in the process and to define outcomes measures.
The results of the FGCU annual survey of faculty, staff, and students show that almost all faculty and staff and over half of the students are aware of the Florida Gulf Coast University mission. Search committees routinely included discussions about the mission in the selection process for faculty and staff, and many people chose to accept positions because the mission was consistent with their personal philosophies. Survey results indicate that more work needs to be done to inform students of the mission and learning outcomes.
Student achievement of the undergraduate university learning outcomes is measured at the educational program level in each college, but the methods are not consistent across degree programs. Assessment data must be collected to ensure that the university learning outcomes are achieved. Feedback from the assessment must be used to continuously improve each program's ability to achieve the learning outcomes. Faculty in graduate programs are dealing with learning outcomes within the context of professional accreditation. The Graduate Curriculum Team needs to review the issue to determine how best to coordinate outcomes measurement required by the university and accrediting agencies.
Scholarship and public service goals that have been written as part of each faculty member's professional development plan are being assessed, using the guidelines and procedures in the Faculty Performance Evaluation Document and the evaluation criteria established by the colleges.
Overall, it appears that more coordination and leadership of the evaluation of educational programs is needed. While planning, evaluation, and improvement are found throughout the university, the evaluation process is uneven.
S3.1-1 The Steering Committee suggests that the Institutional Effectiveness Committee, consistent with the FGCU Institutional Effectiveness Plan, take the following steps to further the institutional effectiveness process:
a. Continue to develop and offer training support to assist educational units to develop, revise, and implement their institutional effectiveness plans as needed.
b. Assist educational programs to develop indicators for assessment to ensure that appropriate data are collected.
c. Develop an assessment strategy to measure the extent to which students meet the university student learning outcomes.
d. Establish a structure for reporting assessment results to ensure use of the results for program improvement.
e. Develop a means to assess the needs of the educational programs with regard to facilities and educational resources.
S3.1-2 The Steering Committee suggests that the Graduate Curriculum Team determine how outcomes measurement required by the university and accrediting agencies can best be coordinated.
3.2 Planning and Evaluation: Administrative and Educational Support Services
DescriptionIn addition to providing evidence of planning and evaluation in its educational program, the institution must demonstrate planning and evaluation in its administrative and educational support services. For each administrative and educational support service unit, the institution must
1. establish a clearly defined purpose which supports the institution's purpose and goals,
2. formulate goals which support the purpose of each unit,
3. develop and implement procedures to evaluate the extent to which these goals are being achieved in each unit, and
4. use the results of these evaluations to improve administrative and educational support services.
Each unit, in its planning and evaluation processes, should consider internal and external factors and should develop evaluation methods which will yield information useful to the planning process of that unit.
At Florida Gulf Coast University, administrative and educational support services operate in organizational divisions under the direction of three vice presidents: the vice president of administrative services, the vice president of development, and the vice president of academic affairs. All the units within these three divisions are included in the institutional effectiveness process.
With the assistance of the Institutional Effectiveness Committee, the Office of Planning and Evaluation is working with the major units of the university, including administration and support services units, to ensure, in accordance with the Institutional Effectiveness Plan, that the units at all levels have appropriate missions and goals and that these are properly linked to the university's mission and goals. The first phase of this process began in spring 1997.
During March 1997, the Office of Planning and Evaluation sponsored a workshop on institutional effectiveness and assessment strategy development. Dr. Jim Nichols, director of university planning and institutional research at the University of Mississippi, conducted the workshop. Each unit leader within the university attended. The workshop provided a model matrix for goals development tied to the university mission. An assessment plan for three to five goals per year was proposed to include a feedback for continuous program improvement. As of October 1997, most administrative and support services units had submitted their department mission statement, objectives, and means of assessment.
The administrative units that did not have their mission statement, objectives, and means of assessment completed by October 1997, provided a statement regarding the timeline and plan for their completion. An institutional effectiveness folder was established on the 'fgcu-marlin' share drive to maintain the reports from each unit.
Beginning in summer 1998, the Office of Planning and Evaluation began the second phase of the process. This phase began with a review of existing unit missions and goals and an examination of how the evaluation process has proceeded in each unit. The second step consists of meetings between planning and evaluation staff and the 12 major university units (president, vice presidents, and deans) to update all unit missions and goals, and to move forward with evaluations and plans for use of data for enhancement of performance. The Office of Planning and Evaluation reports regularly regarding these activities to the Institutional Effectiveness Committee, which monitors the process.
All units within the Division of Administrative Services have developed missions and goals. As an initial step in the evaluation of performance, a customer satisfaction survey was developed by this division to help evaluate the effectiveness of customer service provided by each component department. The survey data were compiled and distributed to all departments in the university. The findings from these data indicated that users did not understand the policies and procedures implemented by Division of Administrative Services, and, therefore, that the greatest need was for increased training opportunities for FGCU employees.
To improve employee awareness of administrative services, policies, and procedures, the division has offered an extensive training program for all faculty and staff. Within each department, a training program was developed, and the associate vice president of administrative services was responsible for coordinating the training effort. The training programs developed included the areas of university procedures, hiring practices, coaching and mentoring of employees, employee orientation, use of technology, and campus safety. Participants in the training programs were asked to evaluate the quality of the program's presentation and content and the facilities used. These data will be used to refine the programs, develop new programs, and eliminate those no longer needed. In addition, to improve understanding and accessibility of administrative services policies, the division revised them and made them available on the Internet through the FGCU Web site.
The Division of University Development has developed a mission statement, goals, and assessment criteria and procedures. A primary goal of this division was to raise $17 million by June 30, 2000. The goal was met a year and a half early. Based on the evaluation of the results of this fundraising campaign, a new development plan was adopted with a new goal of $60 million by December 31, 2003.
The four service offices under the vice president for academic affairsthe Office of Instructional Technology, Library Services, the Division of Student Services, and the Office of Planning and Evaluationhave developed mission statements and goals. For a description of the Office of Planning and Evaluation mission and goals, please see Introduction to Section 3 Institutional Effectiveness and Section 3.3 Institutional Research.
Fundamental to the operation of the Office of Instructional Technology is the university's Strategic Plan The Use of Technology. The plan, adopted in January 1996, is linked to the university's mission and establishes the centrality of technology in the development of the university. In addition, it provides overall technological goals and objectives within which the component units of the university, including the Office of Instructional Technology and Library Services, operate. One of the plan's goals calls for the continual evaluation and updating of the plan itself to support advancement of the university's mission.
The Office of Instructional Technology adopted a mission statement and 11 goals for 1997-98. An ad-hoc committee of IT personnel identified procedures to evaluate the extent to which these goals were achieved. Data on use of the student computer labs are provided monthly and used as a basis for establishing and revising lab procedures. In addition, students who returned in fall 1998 for a second year were surveyed through the fall registration process and faculty who used IT services in 1997-98 were surveyed to measure satisfaction and quality of products and services. These data will be analyzed in fall 1998 and used to update current practices and revise the departmental goals.
Library Services has established a mission and vision statement, as well as goals for library services for 1998-99. Library Services has also developed institutional effectiveness measures (June 1998) linked to the goals. These measures are used in library planning sessions and will be the basis for evaluation of the library and its services in spring 1999.
Finally, the Division of Student Services has developed mission and goal statements for the entire division, the dean's office, and for each major component unit/service, including Admissions, Registration, and Records; Career Development Center; Counseling and Student Health Services; Financial Aid and Scholarships; Multi Access Services; New and Transfer Student Orientation; and Recreation and Leisure Services. In addition, for each objective, a specific strategy for achieving the objective is established.
Review of departmental effectiveness plans revealed that most administrative and educational support units have clearly defined purposes that support the university's purpose and have goals that support the university's mission. Non-academic units generally specify goals relevant to their support functions within the institution. The review of effectiveness plans revealed that planning and evaluation are proceeding in the administrative and educational support units.
While planning and evaluation has been established in all administrative and educational support services units, clearly some units have advanced further in the process than others. As the second phase of the university's institutional effectiveness process moves forward, it will be necessary to ensure that all units establish an appropriate timeline for evaluations and use of evaluation results to enhance performance.
S3.2-1 The Steering Committee suggests that the Institutional Effectiveness Committee, consistent with the FGCU Institutional Effectiveness Plan, take the following steps to further the institutional effectiveness process:
a. Continue to develop and offer training support to assist administrative and educational support units to develop, revise, and implement their institutional effectiveness plans as needed.
b. Assist administrative and educational support units to develop indicators for assessment to ensure that appropriate data are collected.
c. Establish a structure for reporting assessment results to ensure use of the results for program improvement.
3.3 Institutional Research
DescriptionInstitutional research must be an integral part of the institution's planning and evaluation process. It must be effective in collecting and analyzing data and disseminating results. An institution must regularly evaluate the effectiveness of its institutional research process and use its findings for the improvement of its process.
The institutional research process may be centralized or decentralized but should include the following activities: ongoing timely data collection, analysis and dissemination; use of external studies and reports; design and implementation of internal studies related to students, personnel, facilities, equipment, programs, services and fiscal resources; development of data bases suitable for longitudinal studies and statistical analyses; and related activities in support of planning, evaluation and management.
Institutions must assign administrative responsibility for conducting institutional research, allocate adequate resources, and allow access to relevant information.
The official institutional research function of the university is located within the Office of Planning and Evaluation. The office has established its mission and goals, which indicate that it is responsible for conducting research for institutional analysis and decision making and that it assumes a lead role in providing data and statistics about Florida Gulf Coast University to internal and external constituents. The office also serves as a university resource in evaluation and assessment.
As the institutional effectiveness process moves forward, the office will play a lead role in assisting in the development of indicators of success for the university and unit goals; facilitating the involvement of all stakeholder groups in approving these indicators; identifying data sources for these indicators; designing formats for data presentation; assisting units in analyzing the data; and supporting planning activities that will lead to goal achievement.
To date, the office has conducted several university-wide opinion surveys including the first FGCU annual survey of faculty, staff, and students; a transfer student orientation survey; and the CIRP Freshman Survey. The data derived from these surveys have been used for analysis in the SACS self-study process, review of the transfer orientation process, and development of a marketing policy. Through the use of survey instruments, the office has conducted the evaluation of deans, directors, and department chairs, and administered the state mandated student evaluation of faculty. Results of these surveys have been used to evaluate administrators and faculty. The office also coordinates responses to external questionnaires and data requests from college guides.
However, responsibility for data collection and generation is decentralized to three offices: the Office of Planning and Evaluation (described above), the Division of Administrative Services, and the Division of Student Services.
The Board of Regents requires that each SUS institution have a data administrator to fulfill the state data reporting requirements. This post has been filled for over three years (more than two years before the university opened). In 1998-99, the data administrator is scheduled to provide over 25 reports to the Board of Regents and related offices. The data administrator has access to the Board of Regents files, which is a rich source of information useful to the university for planning purposes. For example, the data administrator provided information regarding enrollment of students from Southwest Florida in programs at other SUS institutions, which was critical to planning for the university's degree programs.
Enrollment management and reporting functions are based in the Division of Student Services. The operation is supervised by a computer operations specialist, who has the support of four staff members who also have other main responsibilities in student services. The computer operations specialist works with the data in the Banner student information system to provide information, such as enrollment reports that facilitate enrollment planning.
Florida Gulf Coast University's institutional research process is in a position to satisfy the requirements for effectiveness. It can be documented that already, in the first year of operation, it is carrying out a large proportion of the activities normally associated with institutional research departments in universities. Furthermore, offices at the university involved in institutional research activities are organized and are being staffed to accomplish these objectives.
Present assignments of responsibility, however, are a function of early evolution and not necessarily the best arrangement for efficiency. Maintaining good communication among the three data collection offices is sometimes difficult. At present the responsibilities that are distributed among the Office of Planning and Evaluation, the Division of Student Services, and the Division of Administrative Services are not clearly delineated.
Because the university is still very new and relatively small, ad hoc arrangements worked out at the initiative of key university staff have, for now, ensured that cross-communication among data managers has occurred. In the meantime, Florida Gulf Coast University should continue to monitor the current decentralized arrangement to ensure continuing efficiencies of operation and accomplishment of all required institutional research responsibilities. Even though the university has a small enrollment, the tasks in institutional research are smaller only in terms of the number of students and employees involved, but not similarly decreased in terms of the number of tasks required. Because of the university's newness and small size, these three offices are staffed at a level well below those of other universities in the state system. To meet the expanding workload, the Office of Planning and Evaluation has hired a part-time institutional effectiveness coordinator. In addition the Division of Student Services is in the process of hiring another full-time computer operations specialist.
R3.3-1 The Steering Committee recommends that as the institutional research office becomes fully established, the institutional research process be periodically evaluated.
S3.3-1 The Steering Committee suggests that the university develop a plan that prioritizes institutional research responsibilities and activities, and establishes a mechanism to ensure clear designation of responsibilities and coordination among the offices involved in data collection, analysis, and reporting.
Supporting Documentation for Section III
Academic Program Needs Assessment for Florida Gulf Coast University
Administrative Services Customer Service Satisfaction Survey and Result
An Examination of Academic Advising Process at Florida Gulf Coast University
CIRP Freshman Survey
Community Perceptions of Program Needs in Education
Comprehensive Campus Master Plan
Course Syllabus, IDS 3920, University Colloquium
Distance Learning Strategic Plan
Evaluation of Deans Survey
Facilities Master Plan
FGCU Annual Survey
Information Resources Management Plan
Institutional Effectiveness Plan
Prioritized Master Plan Requests
Program Needs in Allied Health
Program Needs in Criminology and Criminal Justice
State University System Student Assessment of Instruction (SUSSAI)
SUS Strategic Plan (Master Plan)
Ten Year Development Plan for a New University in Southwest Florida
© FGCU 1998. This
is an official FGCU web page.