The Nuts and Bolts of
Terri Manning, Ed.D.
Center for Applied Research
Central Piedmont Community College
Stages of Grief for Outcome Measurement
Acceptance & adaptation
Challenge & competition
Stage 4 Catalyst - Proactive
Compliance - Passive reactive
Bargaining - no time/no money
Seek outside sources
Anger and antagonism
Resistant & Reactive
Disbelief & Denial
Paralysis - Passive resistance
We’ve learned that things come and they go
Most of these trends are purely academic
The national educational climate is skeptical
They want us to prove that students are
learning, that their lives are improving and
that we are good stewards of funds!
The Spellings Commission
Some things the draft report called for:
The creation of an overall measurement of an institution's
"bottom line," including measures of institutional costs and
performance that let parents and policy makers view
A mandate that institutions measure student learning
outcomes, disseminate the results to students, and report
them publicly in the aggregate;
The development of a national student unit-record database to
follow the progress of each student;
The establishment a national accreditation framework that
includes comparable performance measures, and making the
findings of reviews easily accessible to the public;
According to SACS, an Institution
Needs to Have in Place:
An ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide research-based planning
and evaluation processes which includes:
a systematic review of institutional mission, goals and outcomes
results in continuing improvement in institutional quality
demonstrates that the institution is effectively accomplishing its mission
A list of expected outcomes, the assessment of those outcomes and
evidence of improvement based on analysis of those outcome results
in each of the following areas:
educational programs (student learning outcomes at the program and
administrative support services
educational support services
Identified college-level general education competencies (based on
best practices in assessment) and provide evidence that graduates
have attained them
SACS Core Requirements and Comprehensive
Standards are based on best practices of effective
institutions (a peer developed and peer reviewed
SACS staff members enforce the standards.
But shouldn’t we periodically take a serious look at our
Are they learning?
Who is learning best?
Are they achieving the outcomes we expected?
Should we make changes in programs and services?
Do we need more in-depth services?
Do we need a new curriculum or a change in methodology?
The Great Fallacy
In this day of social promotion, grade inflation and
different teaching/learning philosophies, grades
tell you virtually nothing.
They are not a measure of outcome achievement.
Two teachers will grade a student differently for
the exact same work.
They cannot be used!
Why are We Moving from
Goals to Outcomes?
Outcomes are program-specific
They measure the effect of classroom
activities and services provided.
Outcomes represent a new way of thinking
Outcomes have become widely accepted by
our various publics
They are here to stay
We used to measure ourselves by our
Program Outcome Model
INPUTS ACTIVITIES OUTPUTS
Resources Services Products or Results of
Staff Education (classes) Numbers served
Buildings Services FTE (input next year)
Facilities Counseling # Classes taught
State funds Student activities # Students recruited
State regulations United Way model
Program Outcomes Model
INPUTS > ACTIVITIES > OUTPUTS > OUTCOMES
Benefits for People
(Outcomes answer the “so what” *Changes in values
Which Is It?
College provides well trained faculty.
200 students complete their GED.
Students move from public housing.
30 courses are offered each semester.
150 FTE are generated.
Students’ reading level improves.
Students are gainfully employed.
Four counselors are hired.
Students successfully transfer courses
and enter the university system.
Students receive financial aid at the
Students attend campus activities.
Students are able to pay back their
General Education Courses
Students receive creative classroom
Faculty members receive a grant to offer
multimedia opportunities to students.
Students become active participants in
County civic activities.
700 FTE are generated in core courses.
Students’ math skills improve.
Outcomes are ……...
Driven by the mission.
Related to overall program goals.
Specific to the teachings/activities of your
Determined by faculty and front-line staff.
Measured carefully and specifically.
Inputs through Outcomes:
The Conceptual Chain
Different Types of Outcomes
Learning Outcomes (can be at course,
program or institutional level)
Definitions and Examples
What changes in knowledge, skills, attitude, awareness,
condition, position (etc.) occur as a result of the learning
that takes place in the classroom. These are direct benefits
Examples: general learning skills (e.g. improved
writing and speaking abilities), ability to apply learning to
the work environment (e.g. demonstrate skills in co-op),
program-specific skills developed or enhanced (e.g. take
Definitions and Examples
The benefits that results from the completion of
an entire program or series of courses. Are there
benefits for students who get the AAS in welding
versus those who take a few courses? If so what
Typical examples are: licensure pass rates,
employment rates, acceptance into 4-year
schools, lifelong learning issues, contributions to
society, the profession, etc.)
Definitions and Examples
Units/programs want to improve services or
approach an old problem in a new way.
They want to become more efficient and effective.
Typical examples are:
All faculty will attend one professional meeting annually
so they can stay up-to-date in their field, or:
Counseling wants to recruit a new counselor with
expertise in working with first-generation students, or:
Facilities services wants all college units to feel that they
respond quickly to security issues.
What is an Outcome
A short-term, measurable, specific activity
having a time limit or timeline for completion
around a specific outcome
They measure outcomes and are used to show
progress toward goals
They specify who, will do what, under what
condition, by what standard and within what
How to Set Outcome
There’s no magic number
e.g. 80% or 90%
What is reasonable?
What can you afford?
What realistically can your staff accomplish?
What percent shows you’re not committed and
what percent shows you’re naïve?
How to Set Outcome
Fifty percent of students will be able to
communicate effectively in writing (complete the
writing exam with a grade of 60 [D] or better)
By the end of the spring term, 95% of faculty and
staff will have completed 20 contact hours of
professional development (workshops, college
courses, conferences, onsite trainings, etc.)
Seventy percent of students will be able to
communicate effectively in writing (complete the
writing exam with a grade of 75 [C+] or better)
By the end of the spring term, the professional
development office will increase their offerings for
faculty and staff by 10% over what was offered
last year (workshops, college courses,
conferences, onsite trainings, etc.)
How to Set Objectives
The first time you set objectives, be
Allow yourself a pilot semester or year to
determine the appropriate levels of change
that can be expected
Don’t pull a rabbit out of your hat (e.g. let’s
grow enrollment by 10%)
May need to benchmark (what does it mean)
Fall Curriculum Enrollment at ABC
17,000 16,660 (1.2%)
15,500 15,208 (1.7%)
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Should they set a goal for a 5% enrollment growth for next fall?
Why is This Hard?
Because it is education
Because the best results may not
happen for years
Because we are so busy doing what we
are doing…. we forget why we are doing
Let’s Look at Healthcare
When you have strep throat and go to the doctor for
your antibiotics (your intervention)
What are your intended outcomes?
Would the doctor ever tell you:
We believe curing disease is a developmental process
We believe there is value in the activity of taking pills and
We’re not sure if you’ll get better, it is how all doctors have
treated the disease since we learned about it
What would you say to that?
How to Measure
Faculty/staff in an area are often the worst in defining
outcomes because they are too close to the subject.
New Teachers 2nd- 3rd Middle Years of Older
1st Year Year Teachers Teaching Teachers
Unconsciously Consciously Consciously Unconsciously
Unskilled Unskilled Skilled Skilled
Don’t realize they Realize they Know what works Can’t remember
don’t know what don’t know and why why they do
they are doing what they are what they do –
doing – begin just know it
to ask for help works
Sources of Ideas for Outcomes
* program documents
* program faculty and staff
* national associations/credentialing boards
* key volunteers
* former students
* parents of students
* records of complaints
* programs/agencies/employers that are the next
step for your students
* other colleges with similar programs, services
and students as yours
* outside observers of your program in action
Should we measure objectives or student
learning outcomes every year?
When does measurement become too time
Units need time to put into effect the
changes made as a result of outcome
assessment before they are thrown back into
another cycle. They need time to reflect on
changes and results.
Disappointing Outcome Findings:
Why Didn’t We Meet Our Objectives?
* Sudden staff turnover
* New teaching philosophy/strategy
* Curricular change (campus move)
* Unrealistic outcome targets
* Measurement problems (lack of follow-
through, no effective tracking)
* Community unemployment increases
* State funding changes
* Related programs (BS or MS programs) close
* Public transportation increases fares or shuts
down some routes serving your campus or
* Employment trends change
Use Your Findings
Internal Uses for Outcome Findings
Provide direction for curricular changes
Improve educational and support programs
Identify training needs for staff and students
Support annual and long-range planning
Guide budgets and justify resource allocations
Suggest outcome targets (expected change)
Focus board members’ attention on
Help the college expand its most effective
Facilitates an atmosphere of change within the
An Example from Instruction
Workplace Basic Skills
This program is a literacy initiative that goes
directly into the worksite and teaches ESL
classes, GED prep and GED classes.
During their review, they surveyed both
employers and students.
This was the first time they had ever done
What They Learned
43.8% of employers reported increases in
employee performance as a result of
participation in the program.
31.3% reported a reduction in absenteeism by
87.5% said classes improved the morale of
37.5% said participants received raises
50% said communication had improved.
What Students Said
70.2% reported being able to fill out job forms
35.5% said they could now help their children
with their homework
91.1% said they felt better about themselves
44.4% said they had received a raise,
promotion or opportunity as a result of the
86.3% said their ability to communicate in the
workplace had improved
What Has Happened Since
Their assessment data has shown up in their
marketing brochures to employers.
Their enrollment has grown dramatically.
They have received funding and marketing
support from Charlotte Reads (considered a
model adult literacy program).
External Uses of Outcome Findings
Recruit talented faculty and staff
Promote college programs to potential students
Identify partners for collaboration (hospitals, businesses,
Enhance the college’s public image
Retain and increase funding
Garner support for innovative efforts
Win designation as a model or demonstration site
So will someone help me do
this… help me select and
measure outcomes for my
Ideas for Outcomes
Typical general education goals:
Students will demonstrate the ability to obtain meaning from printed,
electronic, and graphical resources
Students will effectively communicate both orally and in writing.
Students will demonstrate the ability to locate, critically evaluate, and
Students will apply mathematical concepts and skills to analyze,
manipulate, and interpret quantitative data.
Students will demonstrate the basic computer skills necessary to
function in a technological world.
Students will demonstrate the ability to identify, analyze, question, and
evaluate content as a guide to understanding and action.
Students will demonstrate knowledge of cultural differences.
Students will demonstrate an understanding of the influence of the
individual on group behavior and conversely, the influence of the group
on the individual.
Students will demonstrate comprehension of the major steps of the
Students will demonstrate knowledge of the humanities and critical skills
in assessing cultural/artistic merit and significance.
Let’s work through a few.
How does the welding program improve math skills in
Welding students will be proficient at weights and measures,
calculating angles and predicting poundage of resistance.
How does the culinary arts program teach students to
Culinary students will be able to successfully write menu
descriptions, restaurant advertisements and job descriptions.
How does the Nursing program teach students to
Through case scenarios, nursing students will identify the
correct course of treatment for diabetic patients based on
descriptions of symptoms, behaviors and patient knowledge.
Top Ten Skills for the Future
Work ethic, including self-motivation and time management.
Physical skills, e.g., maintaining one's health and good
Verbal (oral) communication, including one-on-one and in a group
Written communication, including editing and proofing one's work.
Working directly with people, relationship building, and team work.
Influencing people, including effective salesmanship and
Gathering information through various media and keeping it
Using quantitative tools, e.g., statistics, graphs, or spreadsheets.
Asking and answering the right questions, evaluating information,
and applying knowledge.
Solving problems, including identifying problems, developing
possible solutions, and launching solutions.
The Futurist Update (Vol. 5, No. 2), an e-newsletter from the World Future Society, quotes
Bill Coplin on the “ten things employers want [young people] to learn in college”
Let’s work through a few?
How does the early childhood program improve the
work ethic of childcare workers or the children in
How do IT programs improve teamwork skills?
How does Engineering improve students’ ability to
use spreadsheets and read tables/graphs?
How do you improve a student’s ability to:
Have time management skills
Ask the right questions
Solve problems in the work environment
Learning Outcomes for the 21st
Students in the 21st Century will need to be proficient in:
Reading, writing, speaking and listening
Applying concepts and reasoning
Analyzing and using numerical data
Local, community, global, environmental awareness
Analysis, synthesis, evaluation, decision-making, creative thinking
Collecting, analyzing and organizing information
Teamwork, relationship management, conflict resolution and workplace
Learning to learn, understand and manage self, management of
change, personal responsibility, aesthetic responsiveness and wellness
Computer literacy, internet skills, information retrieval and information
(The League for Innovation’s 21st Century Learning Outcomes Project.)
Let’s work through a few.
How does any given program or course improve:
How can we measure it and use the results.
Identifying and defining outcomes is the easy
The devil is in the details.
How do we track it, where does it all go, how
do we score it, compile it, turn it into a
How do we “demonstrate improvement in
Things to Remember
Outcome measurement must be initiated from the
unit/department level (promotes ownership of process).
Measure only what you are teaching or facilitating.
Measure what is “important” to you or your program.
Be selective (2-3 outcomes only for a course, a select list
for programs and institutional outcomes).
Put as much time in to “thinking through” the tracking
process as you do into the definition of outcomes.
Spend the time up front in planning and the process will
It will prove to be energy well spent.
Look at Early Childhood Examples
We do not do outcome evaluation so we can
say we did it.
We do it only for one reason:
To Improve Programs and Services
Where Colleges Get In Trouble
Overkill – they evaluate everything that walks
and breaths every semester in every area.
No time to “reflect” before they enter back
into another assessment cycle.
No focus on “use of results.”
No ability to track results and tally them
across the College.
The Insanity Principle
Doing the same thing we have always
done but expecting different results.
Terri M. Manning