Institutional Research and Planning

Institutional Effectiveness: Assessment

UNCW is committed to continuous improvement efforts that are based on assessing institutional performance with respect to the Institutional mission. This page is dedicated to the: UNCW Learning GoalsAdministrative Unit AssessmentEducational Program AssessmentGeneral Education Assessment, Outcomes Assessment, the Institutional Effectiveness Handbook, and UNCW Assessment Council. Select each link below for a more detailed definition for each Learning Goal.

UNCW Learning Goals

The UNCW Learning Goals describe the knowledge, skills and values needed to ensure breadth of learning which is characteristic of a liberal education. These goals inform the student learning outcomes in our general education program, are reinforced in the major at the undergraduate level, and are aligned with graduate level course objectives. The four categories of student learning articulated in the UNCW Mission Statement are: creative inquiry, critical thinking, thoughtful expression and responsible citizenship. These traits give rise to eight learning goals for every baccalaureate graduate and completer of UNCW's education programs. The UNCW Learning Goals are:

Table of UNCW Learning Goals

Foundational Knowledge

Students will acquire foundational knowledge, theories and perspectives in a variety of disciplines.


Students will engage in rigorous, open-minded and imaginative inquiry.

Information Literacy

Students will locate, evaluate, and effectively use information by applying a variety of academic and technological skills.

Critical Thinking

Students will integrate multiple methods and perspectives to critically examine complex problems.

Thoughtful Expression

Students will effectively express meaningful ideas in speech and writing.

Second Language

Students will demonstrate basic proficiency in speaking, listening, writing and reading in a language in addition to English.


Students will describe and examine the importance and implications of human diversity.

Global Citizenship

Students will describe and examine the intellectual and ethical responsibilities of active global citizenship.

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. 

Go to Administrative Unit Assessment  »

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. 

Go to Educational Assessment  »

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.

Go to General Assessment  »

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. 

View the Institutional Effectiveness Handbook  » 

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?