Accountability: Best defined as the combination of six demands placed on public organizations, including higher education, which collectively demonstrate
- proper use of powers;
- consistent efforts to achieve the mission of the university;
- efforts to report, in a consistent manner, the results of performance against predetermined benchmarks or metrics;
- a transparent accounting that demonstrates the university’s efforts to be efficient and effective in the use of the resources it has been granted;
- assurance of quality of the programs and services produced; and
- service to public needs. (Burke and Associates, 2005, p. 2).
Benchmark: A criteria of measurement or standard of performance which uses peer performance data in the evaluation of institutional progress made in achieving a particular goal or strategy (Suskie, 2004).
Environmental Scanning: “A component of external analysis which, when combined with an internal analysis, assists decision-makers to formulate strategic directions for organizational planning” (Morrison, 1993, p. 4). Objectives of an environmental scanning process include
- detection of “scientific, technical, economic, social and political interactions and other elements important to the organization”;
- identification and definition of “potential threats, opportunities, or potential changes for the organization implied by those events”;
- promotion of “a future orientation in management and staff”; and
- alerts to management and staff “to trends that are converging, diverging, speeding up, slowing down, or interacting.”
(All quotes in 1-4 from Morrison, 1993, pp. 3-4)
Current Objectives: Immediate goals/emphases for the current academic (or fiscal) year.
Goal: First-level action item in planning units’ individual strategic plans which operationalizes the University’s Master Goals. (Master Goal > Goal > Strategy > Objective)
Institutional Effectiveness: An overarching and ongoing process of evaluation of the quality and efficiency in which an organization attains its mission, supporting planning, budgeting, and resource allocation. Institutional Effectiveness, when fully engaged in the life of the university,
- incorporates an ongoing process of quality improvement;
- provides measurable goals and outcomes for all areas;
- collects and evaluates data at regular intervals to measure the achievement of goals;
- engages a process of ongoing review of data in support of data-informed decision-making.
Key Performance Indicators (known locally as ASU Scorecard Performance Indicators): A measure of an essential performance outcome of a particular organizational performance activity or an important indicator of a precise health condition of an organization.
Learning Outcome (or Learning Goal): “The knowledge, skills, attitudes, and habits of mind that students take with them from a learning experience” (Suskie, 2004, p. 75).
Master Goals: Fundamental constructs necessary for a university to achieve its definition of excellence. KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS are the primary indices of achievement. (Master Goal > Goal > Strategy > Objective )
Metrics: Standards of measurement; i.e., a macro-term for benchmarks and key performance indicators.
Mission: A broad statement explaining an organization’s overall emphases, providing a definition of why it exists and a general direction for its activities. Mission statements are generally interchangeable with other institutions of similar nature.
Objectives: Specific, measurable actions taken to illustrate achievement of the components of a goal. (Master Goal > Goal > Strategy > Objective)
Planning Units: Operational entities of the university, assigned specific functionalities and supported by institutional budgets, which develop their own strategic plans in support of institutional goals.
Strategic Directions: Broad focus areas identified by the university that translate the mission statement and vision statement into categories that lend themselves to measuring the level of success attained. Strategic Directions usually encompass one or more Master Goals and often have a two-to-three-year focus period.
Strategic Planning: “A formal process designed to help an organization identify and maintain an optimal alignment with the most important elements of its environment (Rowley and Sherman, 2001, p. 328).
Strategy: “An agreed-upon course of action and direction that changes the relationship, or maintains an alignment that helps to assure a more optimal relationship, between the institution and its environment” (Rowley and Sherman, 2001, p. 328). At ASU, a strategy is operationalized as a “second-level” definition of a master goal, providing direction for, and constraints on, administrative and operational activities established to support objectives. (Master Goal > Goal > Strategy > Objective)
Student Learning Outcomes: “Learning outcomes…are the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and habits of mind that students take with them from a learning experience” (Suskie, 2004, p. 75).
Value Statements: Those components of the university that will remain inviolate, regardless of environmental changes, programmatic shifts, etc.
Vision: What the university aspires to be.
Burke, J. and Associates (2001). Achieving accountability in higher education: Balancing public, academic, and market demands. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Morrison, J. (2003). Environmental scanning in education planning: Establishing a strategic trend information system. Paper presented at annual meeting of the American Education Research Association (Atlanta, GA, April 12-16, 1993).
Rowley, D., and Sherman, H. (2001). From strategy to change: Implementing the plan in higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Suskie, L. (2004). Assessing student learning: A common sense guide. Bolton, MA: Anker Books.