Linda Suskie

 A Common Sense Appr​oach to Assessment in Higher Education


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What is institutional effectiveness?

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 6:50 AM

Institutional effectiveness is, at its heart, about quality. So what is quality? I think a lot of people define it as excellence: a quality college does an excellent job at whatever it does. Easy, right? Too easy. Under this simplistic definition, a quality college might be one that is doing things excellently, but not the right things: offering courses that no one wants to take, constructing beautiful, energy-efficient buildings that are not designed in ways that help students learn, graduating students but without the skills and competencies that employers need.


Quality, then, is not just a matter of doing things excellently but doing the right things excellently. A quality college is not just excellent per se but excellent in fulfilling its responsibilities:

1. Meet stakeholder needs, especially its students’ needs.

2. Keep its promises by achieving its mission and goals.

3. Ensure its college’s health and well-being, and deploy resources effectively, prudently, and efficiently. (This is stewardship.)

4. Serve the public good.

5. Demonstrate the college’s quality and effectiveness in fulfilling these responsibilities. (This is accountability.)


Many people—and some accreditors—think of institutional effectiveness as a college’s effectiveness in achieving its mission and goals (#2 on my list). I think that is too narrow; it ignores a college’s other fundamental responsibilities. I therefore define institutional effectiveness as a college’s effectiveness in meeting these five responsibilities.

Categories: Institutional effectiveness