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Office of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness

Assessment and Strategic Program Review

Western Carolina University 

Continuous Reflection and Evaluation: A Commitment to Excellence

Academic and administrative units at Western Carolina University are committed to regular review of their units to ensure excellence in student learning, educational practices, and operational outcomes. This involves both internal and external reviews of outcomes assessment and unit quality and productivity. At WCU, these reviews are done via three primary processes: Annual Assessment and Periodic Unit Review for both academic and administrative units and Program Prioritization for academic units.

Annual Outcomes Assessment and Periodic Unit Review are formative in nature (i.e., they are intended to help the unit improve without threat of repercussion). These two processes work together to ensure yearly student learning and/or operational outcomes review with a periodic look at the unit as a whole.

Shared Values and Priorities

Our goals and objectives reflect the University's Strategic Vision. Action plans and action plan evaluations are developed annually as a part of the strategic planning process.

Assessment: the collection, interpretation, and synthesis of information to guide decision making.  

Assessment of learning at WCU is designed to measure student skills, knowledge, and accomplishments at the program level. Assessment of learning is an on-going process designed and implemented by the faculty in keeping with the role and mission statements of the university, and the school and departments in which the programs are located.

All academic programs, including majors, stand-alone minors, and certificates, are required to engage in ongoing outcomes-based program assessment requiring annual assessment reporting. Faculty in each program are responsible for developing a program assessment plan that is appropriate for their discipline. Plans reflect the strategic vision of the university and the mission and goals of the unit. Each assessment plan includes a listing of the intended student learning outcomes (including any program outcomes) and the means for determining whether the desired outcomes are being achieved.

Defining goals for each program area is the most important step in establishing an assessment program. For each academic major, goals are defined, students’ progress toward these goals is monitored, and results are used to continue, modify, or reinforce aspects of the program to ensure continuous advancement in program quality.

No single approach to assessment is universally accepted. Therefore, different methods of assessment are appropriate for different programs. The faculty for each program is responsible for determining the methods and appropriateness of the assessment measures used. 

Assessing strategic plans, identifying specific outcome objectives, measuring progress and implementing improvements based on findings.

The primary purpose of program / unit review is to advance the quality of core teaching and learning, research, professional/creative activity, and public service/academic outreach functions through a periodic system of review. The unit's ongoing assessment and strategic planning activities will be critical to the review process. A unit's accreditation may be done in place of the unit review process upon the approval of the Provost. This review is intended to be a formative, non-punitive review of the current standing of the unit.

All support units within the university engage in ongoing outcomes assessment. All units maintain mission and goal statements that reflect the strategic vision of the university and action plans and action plan evaluations are developed annually as a part of the strategic planning process. Units also identify specific outcome objectives, measure progress toward these objectives, and implement improvements based on findings.

It is the intent of the unit review process that members of each administrative unit will have the opportunity to articulate their goals and to explain how the unit’s current activities support their aspirations.

Administrative unit review is an external review intended to advance the quality of the services provided by the unit. To that end, each unit assesses its mission, operations, and resources relative to the same core effectiveness standards understanding that these standards have varying degrees of relevance and applicability across units.

Promoting excellence in student learning, educational practices and quality of service by establishing and maintaining a campus culture of self-evaluation and improvement.

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We provide leadership and support to the campus community in efforts to demonstrate that the University is fulfilling its institutional mission and to enhance Western Carolina University as a community of scholarship.

This process is intended to be a formative, non-punitive process of improvement.


View current Student Learning Outcomes

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