ERIC Number: EJ791855
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Reference Count: 1
The Challenges of Creating a Benchmarking Process for Administrative and Support Services
Manning, Terri M.
Assessment Update, v19 n5 p7-10 Sep-Oct 2007
In the current climate of emphasis on outcomes assessment, colleges and universities are working diligently to create assessment processes for student learning outcomes, competence in general education, student satisfaction with services, and electronic tracking media to document evidence of competence in graduates. Benchmarking has become a common practice in student assessment as colleges and universities seek the ability to compare their performance with that of other institutions. For several years, Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) in Charlotte, North Carolina, has worked to develop the Survey of Administrative Unit Effectiveness, which assesses outcomes in college administrative and support units. At multiple regional and national meetings over the past few years, staff members in institutional research at CPCC have described this administrative assessment process and how the college has used results to facilitate change. The college's process has been well received, and numerous colleges have expressed an interest in participating in a benchmarking process that uses the CPCC tool. Because CPCC's administration has also supported the national norming of this tool, the college's institutional research staff have begun to adapt the process so that it can be used by multiple institutions in a national benchmarking initiative. As they have undertaken this effort, they have encountered many challenges. First, working to identify outcomes based on unit performance is a new and difficult concept for many in business and administrative areas. Second, finding common outcomes that apply to all colleges and universities (or a large subset of them) across administrative units is complex. Third, creating and implementing a benchmarking process with outcomes from more than thirty administrative and support units can be extremely labor-intensive and time-consuming. Creating an effective benchmarking system is a complex, difficult task, a fact that accounts for the reality that there are so few successful processes in place. Yet colleges reap significant benefits in being able to compare their progress with that of peer institutions for the purpose of continuous improvement. A tool such as the Survey of Administrative Unit Effectiveness described here offers colleges the opportunity to measure their progress, benchmark themselves against peer institutions, and use the results to facilitate institutional change. As accrediting agencies become more focused on outcomes and accountability, providing a tool for evaluation and improvement of administrative and support services will become of greater concern to colleges.
Descriptors: Institutional Research, Accreditation (Institutions), Benchmarking, General Education, Satisfaction, Higher Education, Professional Development, Institutions, College Outcomes Assessment
Jossey Bass. Available from John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774. Tel: 800-825-7550; Tel: 201-748-6645; Fax: 201-748-6021; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/86511121
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Two Year Colleges
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency; National Survey of Student Engagement