University performance metrics

University performance metrics track indicators related to quality of education and program budgeting.

University performance measurements are used to assess the quality of education and the strength of the university research programs. These performance measurements, or metrics, can be both quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative metrics are relatively simple to measure and useful in straightforward circumstances, such as the assessment of incoming state research funding.

On the other hand, it can be difficult to extrapolate quality improvements from quantity growth. The increase in numbers of graduates and decrease of years to graduation are usually a sign of improvements in student advising and course availability. Such results, however, could also be an indication of the declining rigor of coursework.

For example, one of commonly used direct metrics of quality is "the percentage of graduating seniors who rate their overall university experience as good or excellent". In many cases, this metric may not provide useful information. The students often use slightly different criteria in determining their overall satisfaction with the university life. Some of these parameters may not contribute to the objectives of the university assessment program.

That is why, a careful selection of quantity targets that reflect educational quality is required. State investments in education are often promoted in terms of the general economic contribution of the university graduates. For that reason, the following factors should be considered: the employability of the graduates, their income potential, as well as their tenure within the state. Although these factors are usually difficult to measure, some departments have developed successful programs for collecting such information. These programs typically use web-based forms and databases to collect facts on student career or academic placements, as well as expected salaries, and locations.

The legislative agencies typically use two types of metrics to assess the performance of educational institutions. The first type is uniform metrics, which evaluate and analyze the performance of all institutions within the system. Uniform measures are useful for comparing the performance of different institutions. However, such assessments can be misleading if data-gathering methodologies differ from one institution to the next.

Naturally, teaching is a complex activity that involves more than in-class teaching duties. No single index can be an adequate measure of the effort invested by the faculty in teaching. Therefore, varied and sophisticated measures are essential.

For instance, the university may examine the proportion of students who graduate, average time-to-degree, and undergraduate degrees conferred per ladder faculty member per year. Another useful study is the numbers of classes that the university expects to be taught by faculty members.

Some measures are process oriented, for example, the actual numbers of classes and student credit hours taught, or the actual course enrollments.

In contrast to uniform performance metrics, distinct metrics judge each institution by its own goals and mission. Although today's legislative policy does not usually appropriate fiscal penalties or awards to any agency for missing or meeting its mandated targets, some institutions have requested incremental funding based on certain suggested performance measures.

Typically, the universities could derive more rigorous measures of the performance statistics they collect. These measures should be based on qualitative and quantitative assessment and provide data for both performance targets and state agency funding.

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