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  »

Academic 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 Academic Assessment  »

General Education Assessment

All UNCW students must complete the university general education curriculum known as "University Studies" before earning their degree. General Education Assessment at UNCW uses assignments that are embedded in courses, along with common rubrics, aligned to University Learning Goals.   General Education Assessment is used to inform on student learning within the University Studies curriculum to provide faculty information that can be used for program improvement and to assure that students leave the university with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in the 21st century.

Go to General Education 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? 

University Assessment Council Mission

Updated December 7, 2022

The University Assessment Council is convened by the Associate Provost of Institutional Research and Planning to contribute to and support informed decision-making as it relates to institutional effectiveness and strategic planning. Upon Council review and discussion of assessment findings and current processes, recommendations on student learning, educational programs, general education, student support services, and administrative units are presented, as appropriate, to the University Cabinet, the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the University Studies Advisory Committee and others as warranted. The mission of the University Assessment Council is to:

  1. Coordinate the systematic collection, evaluation, and use of information for the purpose of improving student learning, enriching the student experience, and enhancing the quality of educational programs and services.
  2. Provide oversight and direction for assessment of the UNCW learning goals through general education assessment and annually evaluates progress toward those goals.
  3. Review alignment of educational program and administrative unit outcomes with strategic priorities and regional/specialized accreditation requirements.
  4. Coordinate the sharing of annual assessment reporting expectations while providing a forum for the discussion of assessment practices and activities.
  5. Review the quality of assessment plans and reports and identifies faculty and staff assessment training needs.
  6. Monitor institutional effectiveness initiatives to create a culture of assessment.
  7. Critique and evaluates the university’s current assessment practice, including the supporting educational technologies, for the purpose of continuous improvement.