Strategic Plan III
How Do We Measure Our Success?
SP II identified accountability as a defining characteristic of Dickinson, stating straightforwardly that “We will be accountable for the goals we set.” SP III reaffirms that commitment. The college as a whole has established multiple markers against which we will measure our accomplishments. In regard to budget, for example, we have long-term models that set goals in categories ranging from enrollment to endowment performance. Our Campus Master Plan has established a vision against which we will evaluate progress in facilities. Similarly, the Presidents’ Climate Commitment sets a long-term goal for dimensions of sustainable operations. SP II also mandated that accountability efforts extend to the divisional and programmatic level and we have made substantial progress to that end. Library and Information Services, for example, has established a regular regimen of annual planning with explicitly stated outcomes. Moreover, we have engaged in a number of special projects aimed at assessment, such as multi-institutional, grant-funded studies of the educational impacts of study-abroad practices. We need to enhance and expand measures of both the effectiveness of current programs and our progress toward institutional goals, especially those articulated in SP III.
Strategic Goal A. Improve effectiveness in measurement and evaluation of accomplishments and outcomes.
Objective 1. While we must continue to move forward in assessment across all dimensions of the college, three areas are of particular importance and promise for us:
a). Academic program. We currently have in place a robust ten-year cycle of programmatic review, a newly created assessment subcommittee of the Academic Program & Standards Committee working in tandem with a designated associate provost, and an initiative under way to guarantee that all programs and courses have a strong assessment dimension. We need to complete the initiative, ensuring comprehensive assessment. This must include measures—quantitative and qualitative—to track and evaluate the academic program’s distinctive characteristics, such as active learning, interdisciplinarity and emphases on global perspective and sustainability.
b). Student development. The Division of Student Development is currently implementing an assessment plan that calls for the creation of an Assessment Leadership Team and division assessment committee, definition of desired learning outcomes and evaluation measures/methods, a program of periodic internal and external reviews, and evaluation of major initiatives. This plan should be fully implemented, with particular attention to assessment of the impact of key initiatives in SP III such as the neighborhood program.
c). Alumni. Assessment of the impact of the Dickinson experience upon alumni is an essential element of accountability for us, and also complements our efforts to enhance ties with alumni. We need to redouble current efforts in this arena. Tracking of alumni achievements, activities, and careers can and should be enhanced. The recent work by the Office of College Advancement in surveying and meeting with some 2,500 alumni potential donors—an effort that included gathering information on such key elements of our program as community engagement and citizenship—shows how this can be done. Such efforts to learn alumni perspective should be systematized, for example, through longitudinal assessment of groups during their 5th, 10th, 25th and 50th reunion years.
Objective 2. Dickinson has recently expanded staffing and programming in Institutional Research and, through our Banner campus computing system particularly, enhanced technological support for data gathering. For example, we currently engage in an active program of data gathering in the arena of student experience and learning using CIRP, HEDS, NSSE and other survey instruments. Our efforts in regard to information need to be redoubled through expansion of our capacity for data gathering and continuing integration among Institutional Research and other administrative and academic units.
Strategic Goal B. SP III envisions a comprehensive, multifaceted assessment effort applied across the college and extended Dickinson community. There are, however, a number of key performance indicators that are central to meeting the challenges that define this plan and for which we have explicit targets for 2015. We believe that these “kpi” targets are as achievable as they are important. They represent both goals for SP III and assumptions upon which the plan rests.
We are confident that these targets, taken individually and together, are achievable within the time frame of SP III. We recognize, though, that most are subject to forces outside our control. Such forces may accelerate or slow our progress. SP III, therefore, also assumes that the college will respond to changing circumstances with the same success it has demonstrated in implementing its first two strategic plans.