General Summary of Conclusions and Suggestions

In general, the working groups report the evolution of a culture of assessment that has resulted in ongoing improvements and advancement of the University of Pittsburgh. The working group reports—Using Assessment to Improve Institutional Effectiveness and Using Assessment to Improve the Student Experience—both include a section on findings that are summarized at the end of the two main chapters in this self-study document and in a final section that reiterates all conclusions. Some broad suggestions are recounted below:

Timeliness of Benchmarking Information

For some schools and departments, the Kenneth P. DietrichSchool of Arts and Sciences in particular, it has been traditionally difficult to get peer institution data in a timely fashion. Recent initiatives by the Office of the Provost to deal with the situation include becoming engaged through a consortium to obtain access to Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) data and providing extensive, detailed information on a departmental basis through the purchase of a program called Academic Analytics, a comprehensive and well-tested method for the assessment of faculty productivity. The University intends to continue to identify additional solutions of this type to deliver more timely information.

Making Information More Widely Available

The Office of the Provost—which already runs a number of student surveys, including the Senior Survey, Student Satisfaction Survey, and Freshman Survey—intends to put more processes in place to distribute that information more broadly and in more meaningful ways. The creation of the data warehouse and the Management Information Center intranet are two successful examples of this more expansive distribution. This information, in turn, can be used more widely in planning and assessment.

The University is finding new ways to access its own internal data that will enable individual units to do ongoing assessment. Recent examples include incorporating such solutions as the PeopleSoft Student Information System and purchasing Dashboard tools, looking at more userfriendly approaches such as Cognos interface and portal communities, and making regular reports to key groups such as the Enrollment Management Committee.

Continuing to Focus on Outcomes

Because assessment is an ongoing process that should lead to continuous improvement, the annual plans will become even more streamlined in the future, facilitating more focused goals tied to results against which progress can be more easily measured. The University also will review the timing cycle of planning to determine if it is appropriately synchronized with the availability of data.