Institutional Research and Planning

Institutional Effectiveness:
Administrative Unit Assessment

What is an Administrative Unit?

UNCW procedures require every unit on campus to work toward continuous improvement during each annual assessment cycle. Units who report their outcomes, action steps and progress toward achieving their unit's mission are guided by a campus-wide administrative unit assessment process. 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. 

What do Administrative Units Assess?

Administrative units, including student support services, identify outcomes and measure the extent to which these goals are achieved. These outcomes include goals related to service quality, efficiency, compliance, the volume of unit activity, effectiveness, customer satisfaction, and staff development, as examples.

These divisions may also measure student learning outcomes. As an example, the Office of Financial Aid may measure students’ knowledge of responsible borrowing, and the Office of Campus Recreation may measure students’ competencies in CPR.

Furthermore, administrative units seek improvement by analyzing data from their assessment of operational and student learning outcomes and develop strategies to improve learning, services, and client/customer satisfaction. The success of these action steps helps to inform the refinement or creation of outcomes for the next assessment cycle. The planning and assessment of administrative outcomes involve all the primary functions of the unit and are aligned to the institutional mission and strategic plan.

What does SACSCOC say about Administrative Assessment?

SACSCOC 7.3 The institution identifies expected outcomes of its administrative support services and demonstrates the extent to which the outcomes are achieved. (Administrative effectiveness) This means that the efficient operation of all administrative units is critical whether these functions are provided internally or outsourced to a contractor.  There should be evidence of goal-setting and assessment activities for each unit, and unit heads and their staff should be able to meaningfully determine whether expectations were met. 

How does the Administrative Unit Assessment Process Connect to Individual Performance Evaluations?

Assessment in administrative units can be defined as the systematic and ongoing method of using measured outcomes, gathering, analyzing and using information about an administrative unit, in order to improve outputs, increase efficiencies, and/or enhance customer satisfaction, as examples. The assessment of the unit’s outcomes during the time-bound assessment cycle is not meant to serve as the performance evaluation of an individual(s). People may be assigned to monitor outcomes, measures and/or strategies found within the Assessment Plan. Yet, the assessment process is not intended to lead to an individual indication of performance. Instead, the unit’s progress towards its outcomes and ultimately, its mission should be based on the synthesis of information. The assessment relates to measuring critical administrative functions or processes in order to collect data, which should lead to process improvements. When used along with contextual details, patterns, and trends from historical data or other relevant data sets, the assessment findings provide information about how the unit is meeting stakeholders’ needs and expectations, and not the sole individual within the unit.

How does the Administrative Unit Assesment Process Impact Budget Decisions or Resource Allocations?

Institutions of higher education are required to conduct assessments within their administrative support units in order to meet accreditation standards. However, making evidenced-based decisions is the best practice for any organization that is seeking to improve. The need to know how each unit contributes to the institutional Strategic Plan and the unit's success in achieving its own targets will improve overall strategic planning efforts, decision support, resource allocation, budget priorities, and operational excellence, which are all motivators for conducting outcomes assessment.