Common Institutional Effectiveness Terms

Assessment: An evidence-based, systematic process of collecting and interpreting information to help inform opportunities for improvement at the programmatic or unit level. This process is ongoing and involves establishing clear, measurable outcomes in alignment with the stated mission. 

Institutional Effectiveness (IE): An institution's ability to "demonstrate a commitment to principles of continuous improvement, based on a systematic and documented process of assessing institutional performance with respect to mission in all aspects of the institution" (SACSCOC, 2018). LSU's commitment is evidenced via the following systematic processes: general education program assessment; degree program and stand-alone certificate assessment; and campus-wide strategic planning across academic, academic support, and administrative units. 

Mission: A concise statement that defines the purpose of a program and includes general values and guiding principles.

Rubric: A scoring tool or guide, typically in the form of a matrix or grid, used to evaluate and interpret student assignments against a set of criteria (dimensions or levels of performance) established by faculty. Using rubrics helps foster scoring consistency in the evaluation of student work.

SACSCOC (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges): One of six regional commissions in the U.S. that accredits degree-granting institutions. SACSCOC accredits approximately 800 institutions in 11 southern states--Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virigina--and in Latin America. LSU is one of the member institutions of SACSCOC and participates in the development, amendment, and approval of accreditation requirements. 

SMART: A helpful reference for developing outcomes or objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Aggressive but Attainable, Results-oriented, and Time-bound.

Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Report (SLAR): A report that describes the results of student learning outcomes assessment activities and strategies for seeking improvement. The Report comprises the student learning outcomes assessed and describes the extent to which each outcome was achieved and specifies the improvement actions to be implemented in response to assessment findings.

  • Assessment Plan: An outline of a program's student learning outcomes and the specific year that each stated outcome will be assessed. An Assessment Plan is intended to allow programs the flexibility to focus on a subset of learning outcomes each year. Programs are expected to assess all stated learning outcomes over a three-year cycle.
  • Curriculum Map: A visual representation of the structure of the curriculum, with a listing of expected student learning outcomes on one axis and the program's courses on the other. Mapping provides clarity regarding where specific outcomes are addressed and developed across the curriculum.
  • Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs): Statements that describe the measurable and/or observable knowledge, skills, and competencies that students are expected to demonstrate upon completion of a degree program.
  • Assessment Methodolgy (Methods): The direct and indirect measures used to assess student achievement of learning outcomes. Direct measures are those that require students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills relative to the expected learning outcomes(s). Indirect measures are those that ask students to reflect on their learning and thus help substantiate/imply learning. Multiple measures per outcome are desirable. The university requires, at a minimum, at least one direct measure per outcome.
  • Findings & Analysis. The results of assessment activities. These include the data generated from implementation of assessment methods and the narrative interpretation of the data with respect to what they suggest about the degree of student learning. In general, assessment results and findings are reported outcome-by-outcome.
  • Action Plan (Use of Findings for Improvement): The specific steps to be taken, in response to assessment findings, to improve student learning. The Action Plan links your assessment results with improvement actions. In that regard, an Action Plan should be developed for each outcome in which a need for improvement was identified in the assessment findings.
  • Follow-up Report (Optional): A summary of the progress achieved and the overall status of ongoing improvement efforts (described in the Action Plan).

Taskstream by Watermark: The Taskstream Accountability Management System (AMS) is the university's system of record for institutional effectiveness, serving as a repository for strategic planning, assessment, and program review materials. The Taskstream portal assists departments and programs in tracking and measuring strategic planning goals and in managing degree-program assessment processes.