Institutional Research and Planning

Institutional Effectiveness: Assessment

UNCW is committed to continuous improvement efforts that are based on assessing institutional performance with respect to our mission in regard to Administrative Unit AssessmentEducational AssessmentGeneral Assessment, Outcomes AssessmentInstitutional Effectiveness Handbook, and The UNCW Assessment Council.


Administrative Unit Assessment

Administrative units contribute to the success of the institutional mission and the 2016-2021 Strategic Plan. Working toward shared goals and strategic targets allows each administrative unit to share in the achievement of institutional effectiveness, as well as greater efficiency and customer satisfaction. 

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Educational Assessment

All educational programs from every school and college, on campus and at a distance, and across all levels, are included in the outcomes assessment process. For the purposes of this initiative, reports on progress toward program and student learning outcomes are specific to degree and certificate educational programs. 

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General Assessment

General education is the foundational component of an undergraduate degree program through which students come in contact with the basic content and methodology of the principal areas of knowledge, such as humanities and fine arts, the social and behavioral sciences, and the natural sciences and mathematics.

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Outcomes Assessment

Institutional effectiveness activities in higher education are intended to inform stakeholders and decision-makers of the contributions and impact that the university, college, program or unit is making toward its priorities. Often in response to external reviews by accreditors or oversight bodies directed by state and/or federal agencies, efforts related to institutional effectiveness demonstrate our accountability to the community at large, including our students, their families and taxpayers. Institutional Effectiveness works to compile and organize evidence used by decision-makers regarding campus issues. As a best practice, UNCW, like other higher education institutions, utilizes outcomes assessment, as a part of the institutional effectiveness initiative to provide feedback and feedforward to our students, faculty, staff, friends, and campus community. Questions that drive this initiative include, but are not limited to:

  • What are we doing well? 
  • What problems exist? 
  • How do we use information to improve and celebrate success? 
  • Do the improvements we make contribute to the development and growth of our students? 

Institutional Effectiveness Handbook 

The Institutional Effectiveness (IE) Handbook details the outcomes assessment process at UNCW, and it involves all academic programs, key administrative services, and many campus-wide constituencies. This process is linked to decisions made at all levels; and provides a sound basis for fiscal decisions and resource allocations. UNCW is committed to continuous improvement efforts that are based on assessing institutional performance with respect to our mission. The areas of focus in the handbook include the support of methodologically sound assessment techniques, appropriate use of data, and meaningful interpretations of assessment results. IE assessment encompasses defining clearly articulated outcomes, implementing strategies to achieve these outcomes, assessing achievement of those outcomes, and using results to seek improvement in programs, units, services, learning, planning, resource allocation and decision making. 

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The UNCW Assessment Council  

It is the University Assessment Council's responsibility to monitor the institution's evaluation and planning processes and ensure that the results of the planning and evaluation processes are used for the improvement of both educational programs and support services. The Assessment Council is convened by the Associate Provost of Institutional Research and Planning to make recommendations concerning learning and administrative assessment and evaluation to the University Cabinet, the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the Faculty Senate University Studies Committee and others as warranted. The Council is the coordinating body for learning and program outcomes assessment and evaluation efforts on campus, defined as the systematic collection, evaluation, and use of information or the purpose of improving student learning and enriching the student experience. The Mission of the University Assessment Council is available here. The University Assessment Council dedicates one meeting per year specifically for the purpose of critiquing the assessment system. Important questions for this group include:

  • Who will see the assessment results?
  • Who will make recommendations based on these results?
  • Who will take action based on the recommendations? 
  • How can we focus on improvement more and assessment less?