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The Balance Between Institutional Mission and Institutional Performance

 

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The Institutional Effectiveness Office

The Institutional Effectiveness Office has responsibilities for:

Providing leadership and direction for the college-wide Institutional Effectiveness (planning and assessment) process including:

Compiling and publishing various documents and reports including:

The Institutional Effectiveness Office staff includes the vice president for institutional effectiveness, administrative assistant and institutional researcher. The vice president of institutional effectiveness serves as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), Commission on Colleges accreditation liaison for the college. The institutional researcher is designated as the college's data coordinator and IPEDS key holder.

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What Is Institutional Effectiveness?

Institutional effectiveness is defined as the extent to which an institution achieves its mission and goals . The college's institutional effectiveness process is an on-going, college-wide process of planning and outcomes assessment for the purpose of documenting that the college is achieving its mission and goals and continuously improving its programs and services. The IE process starts with the College Mission Statement, Vision Statement and College Goals. At the unit level, the process includes (a) developing a unit purpose statement and annual objectives and/or student learning outcomes to support of the college's mission and goals (b) developing procedures / assessment methods and criteria for measuring the success of the unit's objectives/learning outcomes and (c) documenting results and use of results to show that the unit is continuously improving its programs and/or services. The institutional effectiveness process at Cape Fear Community College is a continuous planning-implementing-evaluating- improving cycle that is applied at every level of the college.

In 1996, Cape Fear Community College adopted a model for institutional effectiveness and student outcomes assessment developed by Dr. James O. Nichols and often referred to as the 'Nichol's Model". Dr. Nichols conducted a two-day workshop at CFCC for faculty and staff in November 1995. The model that follows depicts the components of the college's planning and assessment process. (Also see the Description of the CFCC Annual Institutional Effectiveness (IE) Implementation Cycle for more information.)

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The Institutional Effectiveness Model

Adapted from: A Practitioner's Handbook for Institutional Effectiveness and Student Outcomes Assessment Implementation by James O. Nichols, Third Edition, 1995, Agathon Press, New York.

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Why Assess Institutional Effectiveness?

The primary reason Cape Fear Community College assesses its effectiveness is to improve programs and services. Cape Fear Community College takes seriously its commitment to student achievement and quality in every aspect of the institution.

In addition, Cape Fear Community College assesses its effectiveness for accountability purposes to the public, the state legislature and various accrediting agencies. For the college to maintain its accreditation status with the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), it must fully comply with The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement. The Principles require that colleges have an on-going, institution-wide planning and evaluation process that results in continuing improvement and demonstrates that the college is effectively accomplishing its mission. The college's institutional effectiveness process is designed to capture, organize and report evidence that CFCC complies with this requirement.

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Description of the CFCC Annual Institutional Effectiveness (IE) Implementation Cycle

The college establishes the overall framework for assessing institutional effectiveness through the development of its mission and college goals. Annually, college planning units develop, implement and evaluate plans that support the achievement of the college mission and goals.

Assessing institutional effectiveness is a cyclical process. An illustration of the annual institutional effectiveness implementation cycle is provided to depict the sequence of reoccurring events in the IE process. However, the events are more dynamic than can be portrayed with boxes and circles and do not always occur in as orderly a fashion as depicted. It is recognized that planning and assessment at Cape Fear Community College takes place in countless encounters, discussions and meetings during the ordinary workday and throughout the year. Using information to make decisions is continuous. Nevertheless, a formal cycle is required primarily to capture, organize, synthesize, and document the results of these on-going exchanges.

Annual Institutional Effectiveness Implementation Cycle

 

Description of the CFCC Annual Institutional Effectiveness Planning and Assessment Cycle

December-February

This phase of the institutional effectiveness implementation cycle includes strategic planning and mid-year budget review. It focuses on the decisions necessary to prepare a detailed annual budget for the next fiscal year beginning July 1.

County Budget Planning : As early as December, the vice presidents and faculty and staff identify and submit county budget requests to the president and vice president of business and instructional services for consideration. County budget funds are used for the maintenance and upkeep of college facilities, maintenance personnel salaries, and utilities, however, local governments are not restricted from providing funds to community colleges for other purposes appropriate to the institution's mission.

In January, the CFCC Board of Trustees approves the New Hanover County and the Pender County budget requests.

State Budget Planning - The vice presidents conduct a mid-year state budget review in January and report to the vice president of business services any changes in priorities that will create shortages or surpluses in current funds. Current budgets are adjusted based on this mid-year review.

The vice presidents with the deans, department chairs, directors and planning units begin making decisions in January about division and department goals and major initiatives for the coming year. These decisions support the achievement of the college mission and goals and are most often guided by enrollment and FTE levels, space needs and loss or gain of facilities, staffing levels, start-up of new programs, and actions associated with modifications to programs and services. Departments consider their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for planning and match those with resources. This step in planning involves strategic decisions that may or may not require additional state funds for implementation. The budget process is guided by college goals and unit objectives. Requests for budget increases must be communicated in the form of objectives. Objectives written for budgeting purposes are most often expressed as "process" objectives that answer the question: What actions must we take to achieve our purpose and objectives? (rather than the IE planning question " How Well are our students learning and our administrative services functioning?).

Once major initiatives are identified for the coming year, budget objectives are developed by the unit managers and each objective is submitted on a "Planning and Budgeting Request Form" to prepare for the college's annual state budget hearing. Each budget request must include the justification for funding, appropriate budget line item codes, and cost. State budget funds may be used for part-time and full-time salaries, instructional supplies, materials, services provided by contract, advertising, printing, annual maintenance agreements, minor equipment, professional development and travel.

Each unit manager is responsible for preparing and prioritizing the budget objectives and receiving approval from their department chair, dean and vice president before the college's state budget hearing. Once the approval steps are completed, the vice presidents send their budget plans to the vice president of business and institutional services so all requests can be tallied before the hearing.

In late February, the president and vice president of business services schedule a College Council state budget hearing that is open to all employees. The goal of the hearing is to reach agreement on the items presented and to cull the requests, based on priority, to fit the projected state budget for the next fiscal year. The vice presidents must justify the increases or decreases to their current budget. Each request is discussed and may be challenged during the hearing. The president and vice president of business and institutional services reserve the right to make budget decisions to maintain the integrity of the budget.

Because the state budget for the next fiscal year is not yet approved by the General Assembly at the time of the hearing, budget projections used for the hearing are based on the FTE earned during the current year, performance funding dollars, carry over funds, growth money the college may receive and other sources of revenue such as special allotments, grants or gifts. More than one budget scenario is projected (from worst case to best case) and considered during the hearing.

Following the budget hearing, the vice president of business and institutional services prepares a summary of the funding decisions made at the hearing and distributes to College Council. When the college receives its final budget, the president approves the allocation of funds by line item and funds are distributed to department budgets.

March - June

This phase of the institutional effectiveness implementation cycle includes preparing division progress reports, conducting the college-wide planning meeting, and "closing the loop" on current assessment plans and preparing new assessment plans.

As early as mid-March, the vice presidents with their planning units begin compiling their "Annual Report of Accomplishments" which includes reporting progress made towards the college goals and the planning priorities for the current year. By April 1, the vice presidents forward their division's annual report to the vice president of institutional effectiveness who compiles the information into one document and forwards to the president. This document is published and included in the president's annual report to the CFCC Board of Trustees in April.

As the end of the fiscal year approaches, the planning units with the vice presidents, deans and department chairs, complete the task of documenting "results" and "use of results" (called "closing the loop") for their current year objectives and learning outcomes and entering new assessment plans for the next year in SPOL. These plans include from three to five measurable objectives or student learning outcomes for assessing the effectiveness of academic programs and the effectiveness of the administrative and educational support services each year. These objectives and learning outcomes should help answer the questions: How well are CFCC students learning and how well are the administrative and educational support units functioning?

By June 30, the administrative planning units should "close the loop" for their current year objectives by entering "results" and "use of results' in the Strategic Planning Online (SPOL) system. The administrative planning units should also enter their objectives for the new fiscal year, including the procedures/assessment methods and the criteria for success, in SPOL by June 30.

Flexibility is provided in the annual planning cycle to coincide with the academic calendar and accommodate the instructional planning units in "closing the loop" and developing student learning outcomes objectives for the next year that are dependent on outcomes data not available until September. Therefore, during this time and as data is available, instructional planning units should begin "closing the loop" on their current year outcomes by entering "results" and "use of results" and begin entering outcomes for the next year, including the procedures/assessment methods and criteria for success, in SPOL. By the end of September, this documentation should be completed. (Faculty, also see 'September' in this document and in the Annual Planning and Budgeting Calendar ).

The Strategic Planning Online (SPOL) system was designed to provide unit managers and supervisors on-line access to their objectives and/or student learning outcomes twelve months of the year and any time of the day. This being the case with SPOL, unit managers may enter and/or edit their objectives, procedures/assessment methods, criteria for success, results, and use of results at their convenience throughout the year. However, deadlines for "closing the loop" for one planning cycle and entering new objectives or student learning outcomes for the next planning cycle are necessary to ensure that planning is accomplished and documented appropriately within the college's annual planning and budgeting cycle.

Several key reports are released annually in the spring semester and that contain information for planning. The Critical Success Factors Report, published by the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS), is received and contains data showing the results for the Twelve Core Indicators of Student Success for Cape Fear Community College and all 58 North Carolina Community Colleges . This data is used for accountability and performance funding at the system level and for planning at the local level.

The college's semiannual Faculty and Staff Survey is administered and results released during the spring semester. Administrative units use the results of the survey to help identify strengths and weaknesses in their programs and support services and to plan improvements where needed.

The annual college wide planning meeting is held the end of May or the first of June. The purpose of the retreat is to provide an opportunity for the vice presidents, deans and designated faculty and staff to present their planning priorities for the coming fiscal year. They may address both strategic planning and assessment. The retreat is a deliberate effort to communicate and increase awareness of planning college-wide and to gain cooperation in achieving team goals. A special effort is made to include a cross-section of faculty and staff. A major outcome of the planning meeting are planning priorities for the coming year that represent every department and address the college strategic goals as appropriate.

July-August

This phase of the institutional effectiveness implementation cycle includes allocating state budget funds, updating three-year equipment plans and conducting the college-wide equipment hearing.

The fiscal year begins July 1. The month in which the college receives its budget is unpredictable because the state budget requires legislative approval and is not final until the North Carolina General Assembly adjourns. Adjournment may be as early as July or as late as October.

Equipment funds are a separate allocation in the state budget. Each division, with their planning units, is required to develop and update a three-year equipment plan to project major equipment needs and costs. Major equipment is considered to be equipment costing $1,000 or more.

When the college receives its state budget, College Council holds an equipment hearing, which is open to all employees. The executive vice president, vice presidents, deans and designated staff present their major equipment requests for the fiscal year. Individual requests for equipment are prepared and submitted on a spreadsheet and must include a full description and justification for funding, cost and priority. The deans, department chairs and other budget managers are required to prepare and prioritize their equipment requests and present to their vice president for approval before the hearing. Once this approval step is complete, each vice president submits their division's equipment requests to the vice president of business services at least a week before the hearing so all requests can be tallied. During the hearing, the priority levels approved by vice presidents are used to eliminate requests when the number of requests exceeds the budget. When there is a considerable gap between the total equipment dollars needed and the actual budget, a second hearing may be held to give the vice presidents opportunity to reconvene meetings with budget managers to decide where to cut.

Following the equipment hearing, the vice president of business services compiles a list of the equipment approved for funding and distributes to College Council. Funds are then allocated to departmental budgets for purchasing equipment.

September-November

This phase of the institutional effectiveness implementation cycle includes reporting data, the completion of "closing the loop" and developing objectives for the current year by instructional planning units and the periodic review of the college mission and college goals.

By the end of September, instructional planning units complete the process of "closing the loop' for student learning outcomes for last year and entering student learning outcomes for the current year. Faculty complete this process in September for several reasons. For example, data pertaining to graduate satisfaction with a program and collected on the Graduating Student Opinion Survey are not reported until the survey results are tabulated in September. Licensure or certification pass rates and other completion data are not available until after students complete their program in August. In addition, some student learning outcomes for the current year cannot be developed any earlier because they originate as a result of data not available until September. For example, if licensure pass rates should drop below an acceptable level for a program, then this data would be useful in planning for the next year.

During the fall semester, Program Review outlines are updated by academic units, academic advisory committees begin meeting, and the results of the Graduating Student Opinion Survey are tabulated and released to faculty and staff. Information gathered from these sources is used to identify program strengths and weaknesses and recommendations for improvements.

By the end of November, the Institutional Effectiveness Committee has completed its review of the college mission and college goals as needed and makes recommendations for updates to the president and college council. . The Institutional Effectiveness Committee, whose membership includes senior staff, deans, directors, and a cross-section of faculty and staff, is responsible for reviewing and evaluating institutional effectiveness procedures and resulting plans, recommending improvements and periodically reviewing the mission and college goals to ensure they remain current. The committee's review of the college mission and goals during the fall semester is in preparation for the budget planning phase beginning in December for the next fiscal year. Updates to the CFCC mission statement and college goals are approved by the CFCC Board of Trustees upon recommendation by the President and College Council.

Footnote: Cape Fear Community College periodically updates information to analyze its situation and plan for the future development of programs and facilities. Cape Fear Community College published its 1997-2017 Strategic Plan in June 1997 to support the CFCC Board of Trustees' request to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners for a bond referendum to fund the purchase of additional property, construct new facilities, and renovate existing space to support current and projected enrollment growth. This plan was updated and published as the 1999-2019 Strategic Plan in May 1999. These documents include information for planning such as trends, potential new programs, twenty-year headcount and FTE projections, and an analysis of space including projections for future facilities and parking. In addition, citizen's focus groups were held in 1996-97 and again in 1999 to help CFCC identify unmet educational and training needs in the service area and critical issues facing the college. The results of the various focus group sessions are included in the 1997 and 1999 editions of the plan. In January 2005, a subsequent update, the 2004-2023 Cape Fear Community College Facilities Planning document , was prepared for the CFCC Board of Trustees.

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Relationship of Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness (Assessment) Planning

The Institutional Effectiveness Implementation Cycle includes both strategic planning, which is means/process oriented, and institutional effectiveness or assessment planning, which is ends/outcomes oriented. The figure below depicts the relationship between strategic planning and institutional effectiveness (assessment) planning.

The Relationship of Strategic and IE Planning

Adapted from The Department Head's Guide to Assessment Implementation in Administrative and Educational Support Units, by James O. Nichols and Karen W. Nichols, Agathon Press, New York 2000.

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Program Outcomes Model

 

INPUTS --------> PROCESSES --------> OUTPUTS --------> OUTCOMES
Resources

Staff
Faculty
Buildings
FTE
State Funds
Faculty/staff expertise,
training, credentials

Constraints
Laws
State regulations

Activities and Services

Advising
Orientation
Registration
Placement process
Educational process –
teaching methodologies
Technology
Student activities
Educational support services

Products or results of
processes and activities

Numbers served
FTE (input the next year)
# classes taught
# students recruited
# who participated
retention rates
# completing program

Benefits for students
/clients

New knowledge
Increased skills
Changes in values
Changes in attitudes
Modified behavior
Improved condition
Both student learning
outcomes and program
outcomes

Cognitive and Affective
Domains

 

 

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Annual Calendar for Planning and Budgeting

A planning and budgeting calendar is provided to outline, month to month, the dates for major planning and budgeting activities and critical deadlines to be met to implement the annual institutional effectiveness cycle.

From December to June, divisions and planning units are in a continuous planning mode for the next fiscal year.

December

By December 31, vice presidents forward their county budget requests for the next fiscal year to the vice president of business services.

January

CFCC county budgets approved by the CFCC Board of Trustees.

CFCC New Hanover County Budget goes to New Hanover County Manager.

Vice presidents, with their planning units, conduct mid-year budget reviews and advise the vice president of business services of any shortages or surpluses.

Planning units conduct budget planning and prepare budget requests for next fiscal year using "Planning and Budgeting Request" forms.

February

Annual CFCC state budget hearing is held. Vice presidents, deans and designated staff present budget requests for the next fiscal year.

 March

CFCC Pender County Budget goes to the Pender County Manager.

The vice presidents, with their planning units, begin preparing an "Annual Report of Accomplishments" to include progress towards college goals and their major planning priorities. This report is compiled before the end of the year so that the President can include a copy of the report or information from the report in his annual report to the Board of Trustees due in May.

April

By April 1 , the vice presidents forward their "Annual Report of Accomplishments" to the vice president of institutional effectiveness who compiles into a final report and forwards to the president, distributes campus-wide, and posts on the IE web page.

May - June

Late in May or first of June - Annual college-wide planning meeting is held. Vice presidents, deans, and designated staff present their major planning priorities for the coming year. They may address both strategic planning and assessment.

Assessment Planning:

  1. By June 30, the administrative planning units should "close the loop" for their current year objectives by reporting "results" and "use of results" and, enter their objectives in SPOL for the next year, including procedures/assessment methods and the criteria for success.
  2. During this time, the academic planning units begin "closing the loop" by entering "results" and "use of results", and begin entering their student learning outcomes for the next year, including procedures/assessment methods and criteria for success in SPOL as data is available to do so. (Faculty, please see "September" in this calendar and further explanation in the Description of the CFCC Annual Institutional Effectiveness (IE) Implementation Cycle ).

Deans, department chairs, directors, and vice presidents should review and approve the objectives and/or student learning outcomes under their supervision by entering a date for each one in the "Approval Status" section of SPOL.

July - August

July 1, college begins new fiscal year.

Planning units should have their 3-year equipment plans updated at this time.

CFCC receives state budget and equipment budget (could be later depending on when General Assembly adjourns).

Annual equipment hearing is held usually in August. Vice presidents and their staff present requests and justification for funds from the college's equipment budget to purchase additional equipment for the current fiscal year.

September

By the end of September

  1. faculty complete "closing the loop" for student learning outcomes from last year by entering "results' and "use of results" in SPOL and,
  2. faculty complete entering their student learning outcomes for the current year, including the procedures/assessment methods and criteria for success, in SPOL.

Dean, department chairs, directors and vice presidents should review and approve the objectives under their supervision by entering a date for each one in the "Approval Status" section of SPOL.

November

College Mission and College Goals periodically reviewed by the Institutional Effectiveness Committee and changes recommended to College Council and the President as needed.

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Organizational Structure for Planning

Following the organizational structure of the college, there are six "budget centers" or divisions for planning and budgeting and they are the President's Office, Instruction, Student Development, Institutional Effectiveness, Business Services and Institutional Services. The president, executive vice president and five senior administrators (VP of Instruction, VP of Student Development, VP of Institutional Effectiveness, VP of Business Services, and VP of Institutional Services) are responsible for all planning and budgeting for their respective divisions.

Within each of the six budget centers there are planning units which have been determined by their purpose or function. Each planning unit has a designated unit manager responsible for preparing plans and/or budgets for that unit.

Click for a list illustrating CFCC's budget centers and planning units.

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What is included in an Institutional Effectiveness (Assessment) Plan?

An Institutional Effectiveness (IE) or assessment plan should provide answers to these questions: (1) Who are we? (2) What are we trying to accomplish? (3) How well are we doing? (4) How can we improve what we are doing? (5) What evidence exists that we have improved?

A good institutional effectiveness or assessment plan should include the following:

  1. a clearly defined unit mission or purpose statement
  2. measurable administrative objectives and/or student learning outcomes that are consistent with the mission or purpose
  3. specific procedures or methods of assessment to be followed for achieving the administrative objectives or student learning outcomes
  4. specified criteria for success which are the targets for evaluating success and the extent to which the objectives and/or student learning outcomes have been achieved
  5. documentation of the results and the use of results for the improvement of academic programs and administrative and educational support services

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