Assessment of Institutional Effectiveness

Document Outline and Links:

  1. Philosophy
  2. Definition of Assessment
  3. Assessment Mission Statements
  4. Goals of Assessment
  5. College Assessment Project Team
  6. Assessment Model and Timeline
  7. Closing the Institutional Assessment Loop

I. Philosophy

The leadership of Arapahoe Community College (ACC) believes that the assessment of institutional effectiveness includes both the assessment of student learning and the assessment of operational units (formerly administrative and educational support units) of the College that directly or indirectly contribute to student success. In doing so, we acknowledge the fact that a well-rounded college experience goes beyond classroom learning to include co-curricular activities and students’ interactions with the service units of the College. All components of the College influence and shape students’ intellectual, social, psychological and personal development. ACC employees have a responsibility in the student learning process, either through the stimulation, facilitation and/or support of student achievement and success.

The Vision of Arapahoe Community College is “To be the leader in community college education in the State of Colorado.” Toward that end, ACC’s Mission is “To provide innovative and responsive educational and economic opportunities in an accessible, inclusive environment that promotes success for students, employees and the community.” Through our assessment process, we are determining what ACC’s primary effect is on our students – and the “primary effect” is in both program and institutional outcomes. ACC’s institutional outcomes are directed toward both student enrichment and process improvement and are referred to as Learning Outcomes. Our Learning Outcomes address the knowledge, skills, and values that are fundamental to the personal and professional growth of our students, employees and community. We expect our students to exhibit these skills at an appropriate level as they complete their work at ACC. Continuous improvement in ACC’s processes is a reflection of the extent to which employees have implemented our Learning Outcomes in their respective work areas. The six Learning Outcomes established for student enrichment and process improvement may be found under “About ACC” on the ACC Homepage.

II. Definition of Assessment

We embrace the concept of assessment as a continuous source of information essential for improving Learning Outcomes, programs, teaching and learning methods/strategies and the College’s processes that stimulate, facilitate and/or support student learning. While there are many similar definitions of assessment, ACC has adopted the following:

  • The collection, review, and use of information about programs and processes for the purpose of improving learning and institutional effectiveness (Marchese in Assessment Essentials, 1999).
  • A process in which the affirmation and discovery of effectiveness supersedes reporting requirements.
  • Assessment is about improving what we do for our students and how effectively we do those things.


III. Assessment Mission Statements

Although the goals of assessment are the same for the assessment of student learning and the assessment of processes in our operational units, the mission statements differ. This is due to the fact that the focus of instructional assessment is educational/student outcomes, whereas within the administrative and educational support units, the focus of assessment is on the process or service the unit intends to accomplish. 

Instructional Assessment Mission – To continuously assess student academic achievement at all levels in order to support and improve student learning.
Administrative and Educational Support Unit Assessment Mission – To continuously assess the processes of administrative and educational support units to improve their effectiveness in light of ACC's Learning Outcomes.

IV. Goals of Assessment

  1. To foster an institution-wide view of assessment as a necessary response to a demand for accountability and an understanding that assessment is a continuous process and source of information for continuous instructional and process improvement.
  2. To respond to accreditation demands, specifically the Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC) assessment criteria, and to State and outside agency assessment/accreditation criteria.
  3. To train faculty and staff in assessment processes and serve as a resources to one another.
  4. To facilitate the feedback of assessment results into program, course, classroom, and institutional planning.
  5. To develop, implement, and improve the assessment process.

V. College Assessment Project Team

Up until the fall of 2015, the Program Assessment Committee guided the assessment of student learning at ACC, while the Core Assessment Team guided the assessment of process improvement in operational units. These assessment committees merged into a single group, the College Assessment Project (CAP), as a result of participation in the Higher Learning Commission’s Academy for the Assessment of Student Learning and to further implement the idea of a culture of assessment at ACC. The College Assessment Project team is comprised of faculty, staff, and administrators from across the institution who serve as Assessment Advisors to Assessment Authors in both instructional programs and operational units. The function of the CAP is to oversee the institutional assessment process by reviewing assessment plans and reports, providing feedback to Assessment Authors, offering training on ACC’s Assessment Management System (Tk20), collecting/compiling assessment data toward continuous improvement in instructional and operational areas.

VI. Assessment Model and Timeline

ACC’s assessment model follows an intentional process of reflecting on the mission of organizational units in light of ACC’s mission and, therefore, the strategic directions and goals of the institution. That process drives the goals of the unit, the outcomes we hope to achieve, how we plan to benchmark/measure our outcomes, and analyze the data for program and process improvement. The following graphic illustrates the overall view of the assessment model at ACC.

Assessment Cycle Promoting Institutional Effectiveness


The timeline for Institutional Assessment at ACC is spelled out in the following table. It follows the typical cycle of Planning, Implementing, Assessing, Reporting/Revising and is designed to impact the strategic planning and budgeting processes to further student learning and success.


  • Review Mission
  • Identify Outcomes to be assessed
  • Select assessment methods/measures
  • Enter Plan in TK20 for review
July/September New assessment cycle begins
July/September Review Assessment Organization mission
September Assessment Advisors assist Assessment Authors in identifying Outcomes to be assessed
September Assessment Advisors assist Assessment Authors in selecting assessment methods/measures; Assessment Authors enter their Assessment Plans in TK20
September/October Assessment Advisors review Plans and provide feedback


  • Collect Assessment data
September - December Assessment Authors collect assessment data


  • Analyze and interpret data
January - March Analysis of assessment data by Assessment Authors, with assistance from Assessment Advisors, if needed.


  • Report findings
March Assessment Authors enter assessment reports into TK20



Assessment Advisors review assessment reports and provide feedback to Assessment Authors

Leadership Team draws themes from assessment results for Institution-wide Learning Outcomes to discuss at All-College meeting in October


  • Discuss assessment themes
  • Adjust for improvements
October/November Employee Forum held to discuss assessment theme
November - January Integrate assessment themes for improvement into Strategic Plan
February/March Adjust institutional budget to reflect changes in Strategic Plan


VI. Closing the Institutional Assessment Loop

Diagrams 1 and 2 capture the timeline and functions of the key organizational entities in ACC’s assessment process and ultimate improvements in instruction and operational processes. Collectively closing the assessment loop involves review of assessment results within individual assessment units (instructional and operational) and, the aggregation/review/analysis of individual assessment unit results by College Assessment Project team members. The purpose, of course, is to determine if students are actually learning what ACC proposes to be teaching them. The College Assessment Project Team communicates their findings to the President’s Cabinet that reviews the assessment results along with other institutional data and significant internal and external factors foundational in designing the strategic plan. The Leadership Team reviews the information synthesized by the President’s Cabinet and identifies assessment themes signaling need for improvement and/or research regarding implementation of best practices.

Assessment themes are communicated to all College employees early in the fall semester, followed by discussion at the all-College forum in mid-October. ACC’s Leadership Team reviews the results of the forum and considers the impact on divisional strategic plans with the various divisional leaders across the College (Instruction, Student Affairs, Facilities, Information Technology, Auxiliary Units, Fundraising, etc.). Implementation of improvements across the College occurs via integration of strategic divisional initiatives into the overall strategic plan and inclusion in the institutional budget – all toward the goal of continually assisting students in the learning process.

Collectively Closing the Loop on Assessment for Institutional Improvement Diagram 1

Collectively Closing the Loop on Assessment for Institutional Improvement Diagram 2


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