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From Balanced Scorecard to Learning Outcomes Strategic Assessment for Student Life Patti S. Helton, Ph.D. Associate Provost for Student Life University.

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Presentation on theme: "From Balanced Scorecard to Learning Outcomes Strategic Assessment for Student Life Patti S. Helton, Ph.D. Associate Provost for Student Life University."— Presentation transcript:

1 From Balanced Scorecard to Learning Outcomes Strategic Assessment for Student Life Patti S. Helton, Ph.D. Associate Provost for Student Life University of Denver March 27, 2008

2 Session Description This session will outline an adapted Balance Scorecard assessment model that the Student Life Division at the University of Denver used for 3 years and the process we are now using to “hybrid” to a new Student Life Assessment Plan (SLAP) which focuses on Learning Outcomes. We will also discuss how we thread assessment into our Strategic Planning.

3 Introductions My background – Patti Helton, University of Denver, Associate Provost – Why I agreed to present on this topic Your background – Name, institution, position – Why you selected this session

4 Background Information University of Denver – Founded in 1864 by John Evans – Is the oldest Independent University in Colorado – Is one of four research universities in Colorado – Fall Enrollment 2007 Undergraduates: 4,907 (avg. undergraduate class size 10:1) Graduate: 5,806 Total 10,713 – DU Culture (change oriented, family-run organization) Student Life Division – Departments/Programs: 16 – Staff: ~150

5 Mission Statement The Student Life Division is a partner in student learning. With students, faculty & staff, the Division creates a dynamic environment that encourages love of learning, ethical and caring behavior & respect for difference. In all our programs and services we seek to serve the public good.

6 Assessment Assessment is an on-going process aimed at understanding and improving student learning. It involves making our expectations explicit and public; setting appropriate criteria and high standards for learning quality; systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well performance matches those expectations and standards; and using the resulting information to document, explain, and improve performance. When it is embedded effectively within larger institutional systems, assessment can help us focus our collective attention, examine our assumptions, and create a shared academic culture dedicated to assuring and improving the quality of higher education. (Definition by The American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) Bulletin, 48 (2), November 1995, pp. 7-9.)

7 The Assessment Loop 1. Asking questions & Setting goals 1.Gathering Evidence 3. Interpretation 4. Use

8 Choosing an Assessment Model Why the Balanced Scorecard (BSC)? “You can't tell when you're winning if you don't keep score, the balanced scorecard helps track your hits and misses.” - Eric Berkman, Chief Information Officers Magazine The balanced scorecard (BSC) is a strategic planning and management system used to align business activities to the vision and strategy of the organization, improve internal and external communications, and monitor organizational performance against strategic goals. -

9 Choosing an Assessment Model Why the Balanced Scorecard (BSC)? Balanced Scorecards, when developed as strategic planning and management systems, can help align an organization behind a shared vision of success, and get people working on the right things and focusing on results. A scorecard is more than a way of keeping score… is a system, consisting of people, strategy, processes, and technology. “When fully implemented, Scorecards cascade from the top levels of a company all the way down. Therefore, as a concept, Scorecards measure whether the comprehensive activities of a company are meeting its objectives in terms of vision and strategy.” - The Baldrige Criteria (1997)

10 What we liked about the BSC Identify functions of each unit List activities designed to address each function Identify appropriate measures and timelines Determine appropriate targets Do assessments/measures Review and analyze results Report, evaluate, and create new initiatives to IMPROVE and address weaknesses Face Time with the Chancellor and Provost


12 Questions/Concerns After 3 years of using the Balanced Scorecard Model and “tweaking” it every year we asked ourselves: 1. How do we know if we assessing what really matters? 2. How do we get at the big picture through the details? (Seeing the forest vs. the trees) 3. How do we develop language that better fits the Student Affairs/Higher Education culture? As well as the Higher Learning Commission and Accreditation Expectations? 4. How do we incorporate our mission? 5. How do we link our strategic planning into the process?

13 Developing a “hybrid” model Goals: 1. Keep the scorecard grid; 2. Incorporate our Mission; 3. Create Learning Outcomes; 4. Link to the Strategic Planning Process.


15 Incorporating the Mission By connecting assessment to the four mission pillars we continue to use the scorecard grid as a blueprint for: 1. Setting ambitious goals 2. Implementing new initiatives based on fact-based data 3. Holding ourselves accountable to division-wide objectives 4. Establishing short and long-term goals

16 Create Learning Outcomes Learning outcomes are statements that specify what learners will know or be able to do as a result of a learning activity. An important part of drafting learning outcomes is to use active verbs whenever possible. Outcomes also describe a desired condition such as increased knowledge or skills, or even a change in attitudes.

17 Characteristics of Good SLAP Learning Outcomes Three characteristics of learning outcomes: The specified action by the learners must be meaningful. The specified action by the learners must be measurable. The outcome should speak to some facet of the Mission Statement NOTE: The ultimate test when writing a learning outcome is whether the action can be assessed. If not, the outcome probably does not meet all three characteristics.

18 SLAP STEPS Clearly state the Relevant Departmental Mission/Goal. Categorize with a Mission Pillar (Love of Learning, Ethical & Caring Behavior, Respect for Difference, Serving the Public Good) Clearly state the Learning Outcome for each goal. Select methods/measurements/instruments for gathering evidence to show whether students have achieved the expected learning outcome. Specify the process and procedures used to gather data for analyzing and interpreting the evidence. Identify the means by which information that Results from assessment can be used for decision-making, strategic planning, program evaluation, and program improvement.

19 Institutional Budget Development Student Life Assessment Plan Annual Report New Initiatives Strategic Planning

20 Resources Bryson, John M., and Alston, Farnum K., Creating and Implementing Your Strategic Plan: A Workbook for Public and Nonprofit Organizations, 2nd Edition Kaplan, Robert S., The Balanced Scorecard for Public-Sector Organizations Kaplan, Robert S., Overcoming the Barriers to Balanced Scorecard Use in the Public Sector Kaplan, Robert S. and Norton, David P., The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action Nair, Mohan, Essentials of Balanced Scorecard Niven, Paul R., Balanced Scorecard Step-by-Step for Government and Nonprofit Agencies Poister, Theodore H., Measuring Performance in Public and Nonprofit Organizations American Association for Higher Education, Nine Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning. (1992) Washington, DC: AAHE.

21 Discussion

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