Academic Support Units Review Guidelines

Introduction | Mission Statements | Objectives | Assessment Cycle and Timeline | References and Resources | Aligning Unit Objectives to University’s Mission – Worksheet | Academic Support Unit Assessment Plan: Template | Academic Support Unit Assessment Report Outline –Template

 

 

Introduction

As part of the American University of Armenia’s (AUA) commitment to quality improvements and evidence-based decision making, academic support units engage in annual review by:

  • identifying objectives,
  • identifying evaluation methods,
  • assessing the extent to which the unit achieves the stated objectives, and
  • providing evidence of improvements based on the analysis of assessment results.

 

At AUA, academic support units include the following:

  • AGBU Papazian Library
  • Information and Computer Technologies Services
  • Office of the Registrar
  • Office of Admissions
  • Institutional Research Office
  • Center for Student Success
  • Alumni and Career Development Office (ACDO)

 

These units, while not primarily academic or instructional, directly contribute to student learning.

In order to fully engage in and learn from the process of review, academic support units should have formulated a mission statement and objectives.

 

Mission Statements

AUA Mission Statement[1]

As an institution of higher learning, the American University of Armenia provides teaching, research, and service programs that prepare students and enable faculty and researchers to address the needs of Armenia and the surrounding region for sustainable development, in a setting that values and develops academic excellence, free inquiry, integrity, scholarship, leadership, and service to society.

An academic support unit’s mission statement is a brief statement of what the unit does.  The mission statement describes the unit’s purpose (including responsibilities and clients/customers served). An academic support unit’s mission also describes how the unit supports the learning environment and how it interacts with other units.

Academic support unit mission statements should:

  • describe the purpose of the unit,
  • be brief and concise,
  • be known to employees within the unit, and
  • align with university’s mission.

Developing a unit’s mission statement should be a collaborate process with unit staff.  This can be done by asking each staff member to review his/her job description and the job descriptions of colleagues, asking staff members to reflect on the most important parts of their jobs and the jobs of other staff members, or, a unit director might prepare a draft and circulate it among unit staff for input.

 

Objectives

Academic support unit objectives are different from student learning outcomes in an academic program. Objectives for academic support units generally focus on what the unit intends to accomplish.  Objectives should closely align with the unit’s mission statement as well as the university’s mission statement.

In general, at least one objective should be identified for each of the unit’s responsibilities.

Objectives are specific, measureable statements which support the unit’s mission statement by defining what should occur as a result of the unit’s core services or functions. Objectives are generally reviewed, updated and/or revised during strategic planning or as necessary.

Academic support unit objectives are often administrative and might address one of the following areas[2]:

  • process
  • volume or level of activity
  • efficiency with which process is conducted
  • compliance with standards
  • outcome (ability for client/stakeholder to do something after services have been provided)
  • satisfaction (client/stakeholder satisfaction with services)

Academic Support Unit objectives should be

  • specific, clear and concise
  • measurable
  • challenging, but attainable
  • realistic in terms of the number of objectives
  • targeted to areas which staff believe can be improved
  • related to the services the unit provides, and
  • directly under the control of the unit

Each objective will require tasks (actions, steps) to support the stated objective. Tasks are generally outlined in a unit’s work plan and are not discussed further in this Guideline but are mentioned here for clarity.

 

Assessment Cycle and Timeline

Each academic support unit should aim to assess one to three objectives each year, focusing on those objectives which can be reviewed in light of available resources and personnel and which are in line with current priorities determined in consultation with the university Administration

An academic support unit’s annual assessment plan should consider the following questions:

What:

What is being reviewed/assessed?

What information will be utilized (where is the information? how will it be compiled?)

When:

When will the assessment take place?

Who:

Who will be involved in compiling the assessment information? Who will be involved in analyzing the data and information?

How:

How well is the unit expected to perform

How will the results be integrated and used to enhance and improve the unit’s work

 

Templates for use in preparing the assessment plan and assessment report are attached.

 

 

The following timeline is anticipated for assessment:

 

September: Unit meeting to develop plan

October 15: Submit Assessment Plan

June 30. Submit Assessment Report

 

References and Resources

Nichols, Karen W. and James O. Nichols. (2000) The Departmental Guide and Record Book for Student Outcomes Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness. New York: Agathon Press.

Administrative Units Assessment. Emory University. Retrieved from http://www.oirpe.emory.edu/Assessment/Administrative%20Units%20Assessment.html.

Support Unit Review.  California State University Stanislaus. Retrieved from http://www.csustan.edu/oaqa/ProgReview/SupportUnitReviewProcess.html

Process Analysis and Design. University of California Davis Organizational Excellence. retrieved from http://oe.ucdavis.edu/

 

Aligning Unit Objectives to University’s Mission – Worksheet

AUA Mission Statement: As an institution of higher learning, the American University of Armenia provides teaching, research, and service programs that prepare students and enable faculty and researchers to address the needs of Armenia and the surrounding region for sustainable development, in a setting that values and develops academic excellence, free inquiry, integrity, scholarship, leadership, and service to society. (http://aua.am/the-aua-misssion/)

Explicitly and clearly linking from AUA’s Mission Statement (to university-wide goals) to your unit’s mission statement to objectives provides structure to work and clearly defines how the institution and your unit will fulfill the university’s mission.  This worksheet aims to help staff clearly define these linkages.

Component of AUA’s Mission: _______________________________________________________

Component of Unit’s Mission Statement: _______________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

Objective # 1:  ___________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Component of AUA’s Mission: _______________________________________________________

Component of Unit’s Mission Statement: _______________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

Objective # 2:  ___________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Component of AUA’s Mission: _______________________________________________________

Component of Unit’s Mission Statement: _______________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

Objective # 3:  ___________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Component of AUA’s Mission: _______________________________________________________

Component of Unit’s Mission Statement: _______________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

Objective # 4:  ___________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Academic Support Unit Assessment Plan: Template

ACADEMIC YEAR Assessment Plan for UNIT
Topic of Investigation Objective(s) to be assessed
Rationale Why is this important to the unit at this time?
Alignment to university and unit mission statement How does this objective align with the university’s and unit’s mission?
Assessment Timeline What assessment tools (surveys, data, reports, focus groups) will be utilized and when will the review take place?
Description of Assessment Methods:  A brief explanation of the tools noted above.
Assessment Team Who will engage in the review process?
Closing the loop Findings will be used to:

 

 

 

Academic Support Unit Assessment Report Outline –Template [3]

Name of Academic Support Unit:

Assessment Period Covered in this Review:

Date Submitted:

Names of Assessment Team Members:

  1. Introduction and Background about Unit This section is an introduction to and background information about the unit and should align with published information as appropriate.
      1. Mission statement
    1. Objectives (all objectives)
    2. Organizational structure of unit (structure, staff)
  2. Assessment Summary – This section is a summary of the data and information compiled and reviewed in assessing the objectives under review.
    1. Close the Loop on previous assessment. Briefly describe previous assessment results and how they were used for improvement.
    2. First Objective Under Review
      1. Identify how the first objective under review supports university mission and/or strategic goals
      2. Identify how the first objective under review supports unit’s mission
      3. Describe the first method of Assessment for the first objective under review
        • Method of assessment
        • Achievement target
        • Summary of results
        • Use of assessment results for improvement
      4. Describe the second method of Assessment for the first objective under review
        • Method of assessment
        • Achievement target
        • Summary of results
        • Use of assessment results for improvement
    3. Second Objective Under Review
      1. Identify how the second objective under review supports university mission and/or strategic goals
      2. Identify how the second objective under review supports unit’s mission
      3. Describe the first method of Assessment for the second objective under review
        • Method of assessment
        • Achievement target
        • Summary of results
        • Use of assessment results for improvement
      4. Describe the second method of Assessment for the second objective under review
        • Method of assessment
        • Achievement target
        • Summary of results
        • Use of assessment results for improvement

3.  Resource Allocation and Use – This section addresses the allocation of resources and should include data- and evidence-based analyses in this regard as related to the objectives under review.

    1. Resource Allocation
    2. Adequacy of Resources

4.   Evaluation of Operations – This section addresses the overall operation of the unit and should include data- and evidence-based analyses in this regard as related to the objectives under review.

    1. Management
    2. Climate and Management
    3. Efficiency Analysis

5. Plans – What objectives will be assessed next year?

    1. First Objective for Review Next Year
      1. Method 1
      2. Method 1 Achievement Target
      3. Method 2
      4. Method 2 Achievement Target
    2. Second Objective for Review Next Year
      1. Method 1
      2. Method 1 Achievement Target
      3. Method 2
      4. Method 2 Achievement Target

 

6.    Appendices – Attach any supporting documentation such as surveys, reports.

[1] From http://aua.am/the-aua-misssion/

[2] Nichols (2000), p. 41

[3] Emory University, Administrative Unit Assessment