Accreditation Compliance Institutional Effectiveness


October, 2002

Assessment Activities in

University Planning and Analysis

Mission

The mission of University Planning and Analysis (UPA) is to help decision makers make informed decisions.

         Through planning, we help the university and its constituent parts articulate strategies that address critical challenges and exploit opportunities, so that decisions are consistent with an overall vision.

         Through institutional research, we provide information and analysis, so that decisions are based on the facts.

         Through evaluation, we help the university and its parts determine and demonstrate the effectiveness of their initiatives, programs, and services, so that decisions reflect what really works.

UPA's clients include NC State's executive officers, deans, department heads, faculty, and students; UNC-General Administration, Board of Governors, and North Carolina legislators; federal agencies and accreditors; and other universities, the media, and the general public.

UPA is the source of official university reports on student and personnel data, such as: admissions, enrollment, academic progress, student interests and satisfaction, and faculty productivity and workload. UPA also designs and facilitates strategic, compact, and enrollment planning processes; facilitates and supports program evaluation and assessment; and monitors the university's progress and achievements through benchmarking and peer comparisons. Every year, UPA prepares about 150 files and reports, including about 50 mandated by UNC-GA, and responds to more than 1,000 ad hoc requests for information and consultation.

Monitoring UPA's Effectiveness

Because our mission is to help our customers make informed decisions, we monitor our effectiveness by asking our customers whether our products and services have actually improved the quality of their decisions. More specifically, we use customer feedback to find out if our support has been useful, timely, and accurate.

In the early 1990s UPA assembled an extensive menu of alternative evaluation strategies ranging from a customer survey to an audit performed by the Office of Internal Audit. Throughout that decade UPA implemented several items from that menu, choosing to vary its evaluation strategy each year according to current needs, rather than using a consistent evaluation tool every year:

         focus groups with primary clients, including UNC-GA, Provost's Office, and selected NC State administrators (1994).

         survey of Integrated Departmental Database recipients (1995).

         survey of department heads about the value and use of student surveys (1998).

         a log of ad hoc projects that allows us to monitor what questions clients are asking, when, and how long it takes us to respond (1998).

         interviews with clients about the functionality of our web site (1999).

The major findings and use of these assessments included the following:

  • UPA submits clean data on time to UNC-GA. No follow up required.
  • Campus customers want faster response time and easier access to data in electronically manipulable formats. Early in the decade, campus customers did not want to replace paper reports with web reports, but later in the decade, customers wanted all data easily accessible via the web. UPA has moved all of its routine reports to the web and has experimented with a variety of web-based strategies to allow customers to find what they're looking for easily through improved navigation and query tools. Most web reports can be downloaded into spreadsheets for local tailoring. As a result of the 1999 evaluation of our website, UPA completely overhauled its site in fall 2000 and initiated a query-based site in spring 2002.
  • Campus customers want more trend data. More reports now include historical trends, and we have improved navigation tools to allow faster retrieval of data from historical reports.
  • Alumni and employer survey program should be implemented. UPA has now conducted two alumni surveys and is preparing for the third. We surveyed employers in 1998 but discontinued the employer survey due to high cost and low return.
  • The planning process needs to be communicated better. The web provides an excellent tool for communication.

In 2000, UPA turned to a regular survey of its clients, including university-level administrators, deans, department heads, senates, and selected committee chairs. The first survey was implemented in spring 2001 and focused on whether UPA's products and services (institutional research, planning, and assessment) are intelligible, relevant, timely, and accurate, and solicited advice on how we can improve them. A summary of results is attached. The results were reflected in UPA's 2001 compact plan. In spring 2002 UPA administered a second survey focused on its new website. The results will help shape the compact plan developed during 2002-03.

Evaluating Progress Toward Goals

Another way of monitoring UPA's effectiveness is by determining whether we meet the objectives set forth in our compact plans.

Particularly noteworthy are compact initiatives associated with improving UPA efficiency. Chancellor Fox asked UPA to eliminate some of our routine reports, and we used feedback from our 2001 customer survey to identify which reports were least used by our customers. We eliminated several routine reports and the transfer student survey.

Attachments:

2001 and 2002 UPA survey instruments

2001 and 2002 UPA survey results

2000 compact plan and progress reports (May 2000, November 2000  )

2001 compact plan and progress report