Core Requirement 2.5
The institution engages in ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide research-based planning and evaluation processes that (1) incorporate a systematic review of institutional mission, goals, and outcomes; (2) result in continuing improvement in institutional quality; and (3) demonstrate the institution is effectively accomplishing its mission. (Institutional Effectiveness)
The University of South Carolina Upstate (USC Upstate) engages in ongoing institution-wide planning and evaluation of its activities and the outcomes of those activities in support of the institution’s mission and continuous improvement endeavors. The University accomplishes its strategic planning through the activities of the Strategic Issues Advisory Committee with additional evaluative activities including academic program assessment, administrative area assessment, and general education assessment.
The strategic plan is the primary vehicle for annual planning and its implementation. The current USC Upstate strategic planning process was initiated in 2003 and is used to align the institution’s organization and budget structure with the mission, vision and goals. The Strategic Plan is reviewed each year and revised as necessary to respond to the changing environment. All areas of the University participate in the strategic planning process. Our collaborative organizational model includes faculty and staff in the overall planning for the institution.
The Annual Strategic Report is organized by the University’s six major goals and their corresponding objectives to provide an overarching framework. Each spring, Chancellor’s Cabinet members work with their respective units to develop tactics that support these objectives and address the priorities for the upcoming academic/fiscal year. In spring of each year, the units submit updates on their tactics to summarize their accomplishments and progress from the current academic/fiscal year. At the same time, they develop tactics with operational and budget priorities for the upcoming academic/fiscal year. The final year-end report demonstrates each unit’s progress towards accomplishing their goals.
A crucial component of the strategic planning process is the gathering and review of data to help make informed decisions. The Strategic Issues Advisory Committee, appointed by the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, has responsibility for evaluating data used to measure institutional progress on goal achievement and in recommendations for planning. The annual Strategic Issues Advisory Committee Report is distributed to the Chancellor’s Cabinet and placed on the Strategic Planning website for the campus to review, discuss and use in planning and decision making.
In 2008, a system-wide strategic plan, Focus Carolina, was announced. Individual campuses within the USC system were requested to align their strategic efforts. USC Upstate demonstrates alignment of goals each year in a presentation to the President of the USC System.
Academic Program and Administrative Area Assessments
The performance of all organizational units, academic programs, and personnel is reviewed annually to determine effectiveness and to identify how to support continued progress in achieving the University’s mission. Each academic and administrative unit participates in annual assessments intended to support continuous improvement. The general education assessment process supports continuous improvement in the general education program.
The academic program and administrative area assessment processes have similar purposes and outputs, the primary difference being whether the assessment focuses on a degree-granting unit of the institution or administrative, non-degree granting units. Degree-granting areas measure “Goals and Student Learning Outcomes” (SLOs), whereas administrative units measure “Intended Outcomes”.
Each year, academic and administrative areas collect assessment data relating to their previously determined outcomes, analyze these data, look for trends over time or anomalies, and use the results to determine the extent to which they are meeting their goals. The units also use the results to develop initiatives geared toward improving performance and these improvement measures are implemented and assessed the following year.
General Education Assessment
In addition to the academic program and administrative area assessment processes, the University engages in ongoing assessment of the general education curriculum. The General Education Committee developed a curriculum consisting of five competencies, each with one or more associated SLOs that together provide the foundational knowledge and experience necessary for success in our undergraduate program. General Education competencies and SLOs are applicable across the institution, regardless of degree. This allows for assessment of the outcomes at the university level, rather than the course or program level. The faculty review assessment results each year. Each unit develops and implements continuous improvement measures for their general education courses.
General Education Policies and Procedures
Competency 1: Communication
Competency 2: Quantitative Reasoning and Scientific Inquiry
Competency 3: Critical Thinking
Competency 4: Globalization and Diversity
Competency 5: Information Technology Literacy