Rebecca House Stankowski, Interim Executive Director for Institutional Effectiveness
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines improvement as “something that enhances value or excellence.” In the context of Purdue University Northwest’s mission to provide high quality, affordable undergraduate and graduate education to students of northwest Indiana and beyond, the university is committed to the concept of quality improvement through evidence-based assessment and data-driven decision-making, continually seeking ways to improve its academic offerings, its services for students, and its engagement with the community.
The Office of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness is central to these improvement efforts. The office provides the essential support needed to meet this commitment, integrating accountability, assessment, and planning activities that advance Purdue Northwest’s mission, and facilitating the advancement of university programs and services.
The office’s mission is to foster a culture of inquiry and evidence to ensure institutional excellence across all sectors of the university. Planning and Institutional Effectiveness is committed to a transparent approach of collecting data and sharing information that demonstrates accountability to the university and the public. The office promotes best practices in institutional evaluation/planning, student learning assessment, data collection/analysis, and accreditation/compliance activities to achieve meaningful change through the following methods:
Planning and Institutional Effectiveness is committed to a transparent approach of collecting data … that demonstrates accountability to the university and the public.
Institutional Research (IR) handles data management and reporting used to support university-level accountability, decision-making, planning, and policy development for Purdue Northwest. IR provides centralized, conformed, consistent, and clear information to support academic assessment, internal evaluation, and institutional improvement efforts, as well as that required for federal, state, and accrediting reporting.
With integrated reporting, assessment, and system analysis at the institutional level, Business Analytics provides a holistic approach to providing information for proactive decision-making. Using a single source of enterprise-level data, the office develops reports based on an understanding of purpose and common definitions/language.
Through its accreditation and compliance activities, the university affirms its ongoing commitment to academic excellence. Purdue Northwest is
accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), focused on quality assurance and institutional improvement. Many individual academic programs also undergo review by specialized accrediting bodies.
The inaugural year of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness at Purdue Northwest was filled with positive activity and exciting new developments. A few examples:
- Hosted two successful accreditation visits from the Higher Learning Commission, affirming the quality of Purdue Northwest.
- Developed a suite of data visualizations using the Tableau business intelligence software. Through these efforts, users can view and analyze reports online and on demand, customizing the information through drag and drop functionality. A suite of smart dashboards will combine multiple views of data, providing richer insights.
- Prepared to implement an online platform to support program review/analysis. A centralized place to record student learning outcomes, enter assessment data, and generate reports to inform continuous improvement efforts will further enable faculty members to hone academic programs of the highest quality.