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Assessment of Student Learning
Assessment of Student Learning – Setting Performance Targets
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DISCLAIMER: This data in this section is fictitious and does not, in any way, represent any of the programs at Gallaudet University. This information is intended only as examples.
Setting a target is not about guessing what you can achieve. It involves knowing where you are now, what you are trying to achieve, and determining challenging but realistic amounts of improvement needed to get there
If you have a small amount of data you can prepare it by hand. Otherwise, you will probably want to enter the results into a computer to make them easier to summarize and analyze.
It can be helpful to use data that your unit has already gathered to establish a baseline, or starting point, for your target.
Example: Below are examples of targets that could have been set based on historical data
NOTE: It’s important to carefully evaluate the historical data you’re considering using as your target baseline.
Look at how the data for a particular period and see whether there has been an abrupt change in performance. If there has been, investigate the reasons for the change. Suppose there were unusual circumstances during that period (such as a recession).
In that case, the figure may not be a good reference point, and you may want to consider using data from a different period to inform your target.
When you do not have historical data, you might consider using information from outside data sources to benchmark or compare your performance data with those of other comparable universities/departments/programs (an accrediting agency’s standards, IPEDS, etc.). Then set targets that seem reasonable in light of the benchmarking information you’ve gathered.
Remember, you want to have a delicate balance between challenging and realistic. A stretch target is intended to “raise the bar” enough to inspire your people. But it also must be set at a level at which your direct reports have the skills, knowledge, and company resources required to meet the target.
“Stretch” targets usually require significant effort to achieve. Ask yourself how much of a stretch will motivate without causing people to become overwhelmed or demoralized.
*WARNING: It’s important to carefully evaluate the historical data you’re considering using as your target baseline.
Look at how the data for a particular period and see whether there has been an abrupt change in performance. If there has been, investigate the reasons for the change. If there were unusual circumstances during that period (such as a recession), the figure may not be a good reference point and you may want to consider using data from a different period to inform your target.
Timeline: Be clear about how long you need to achieve your target. Will you need to set intermediary targets?
Scenario: Enrollment in your program has increased an average of 2% over the past three years
Possible Target: Increase in enrollment 3% annually so that we have 70 students by 2015
Resources: Do you have everything you will need (equipment, personnel, processes, workspace, etc.) to achieve the target?
How can it be achieved?: Can it be achieved by working harder, more resources, improving a process, an investment in technology?
Harvard ManageMentor. (n.d.). Gathering Performance Data. Retrieved October 21, 2009.
Phillips, L., Gray, R., Malinovsky, A., Rosowsky, M. (April 2009). The Assessment Report: Documenting Findings and Using Results to Drive Improvement. Texas A & M University Retrieved October 21, 2009.
PMMI Project. (August 2005). Target Setting — A Practical Guide. Retrieved October 21, 2009.
PMMI Project. (August 2005). Target Setting Checklist. Retrieved October 21, 2009.
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