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Institutional Research & Effectiveness

 

The role of the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness at Western Texas College is to provide timely, accurate and institutionally relevant data to support decision-making processes. Responsibilities include:

  • Providing leadership and direction for the college-wide Institutional Effectiveness process
  • Monitoring the college’s data reporting schedule
  • Providing assistance to college divisions for planning and assessment
  • Conducting planning and information sharing activities
  • Assisting faculty and staff in collecting and organizing data for assessment
  • Providing periodic reports at specified intervals such as term grade distribution summaries and term enrollment summaries
  • Working with various offices and departments within the college to identify areas of needed research
  • Developing, in consultation with offices and departments, surveys to investigate specific college functions or processes and to meet accountability requirements
  • Providing current information for media as requested
  • Producing progress reports on college goals and college-wide accomplishments
  • Helping coordinate data collection for state and federal reports, including those for Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Educational Data System (IPEDS).

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. One purpose is documenting that the college is achieving its mission and goals and continuously improving its programs and services. In brief, the IE process starts with the College Mission Statement. At the department level, each budgetary unit submits annual objectives (goals and/or student learning outcomes). For each of these objectives, the department develops assessment methods and criteria for measuring the success of the unit’s objectives. These objectives and assessment criteria are submitted before the budgeting process begins for the next fiscal year. During the year, departments work to achieve these objectives. After the year has been completed, each department documents the results and the use of results to show that the unit is continuously improving its programs and/or services. The institutional effectiveness process at Western Texas College is a continuous planning-implementing-evaluating-improving cycle that is applied at every level of the college.

Why assess Institutional Effectiveness?

Western Texas College assesses its effectiveness to improve programs and services. WTC is serious about its commitment to student achievement and quality in every aspect of the institution. In addition, WTC 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 Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), it must 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 WTC complies with this requirement.

What is included in the WTC Institutional Effectiveness Plan?

An Institutional Effectiveness Plan should provide answers to these questions

  1. Who are we?
  2. What are we trying to accomplish?
  3. How well are we doing it?
  4. How can we improve what we are doing?
  5. What evidence exists that we have improved?  

A clearly defined mission statement answers the first question. The WTC Mission Statement is used as the basis for its strategic planning.

The use of measurable objectives (goals and/or student learning outcomes) that are consistent with the mission statement will answer the second question. For each objective, specific procedures or methods of assessment are identified.

To be included in the Institutional Effectiveness plan, an objective must be measurable and the strategy for measuring the success of the objective must be provided. By analyzing the results, we are able to identify how well we are accomplishing our goals.

To ‘close the loop’, departments must identify whether or not their objectives have been met. During the process, departments often discover new ways to improve what they are doing. Through reporting these goals and results, other departments are more aware of what is occurring throughout the campus.

Institutional Research helps provide documentation of the results and use of the results for the improvement of college functions. Throughout the year, numerous state and federal reports are prepared and submitted. Ad hoc reports are generated. In these reports, we are able to compare our current status with past results.

In summary, WTC is a small institution. As a result, top-level administrators are constantly in communication with each other. We have a strategic plan, we know where we are headed and everyone collaborates. The Institutional Research and Effectiveness department helps by providing data and informational analysis that helps identify the needs and document the results. Planning and assessment at WTC takes place in countless encounters, discussions and meetings during the ordinary workday and throughout the year. Using information to make decisions occurs continuously.