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Creating an Organization Committed to Learning and Improvement

The institution conducts sustained, evidence-based, and participatory discussions about how effectively it is accomplishing its purposes and achieving its educational objectives. These activities inform both institutional planning and systematic evaluations of educational effectiveness. The results of institutional inquiry, research, and data collection are used to establish priorities at different levels of the institution, and to revise institutional purposes, structures, and approaches to teaching, learning, and scholarly work.


4.1. The institution periodically engages its multiple constituencies in institutional reflection and planning processes which assess its strategic position; articulate priorities; examine the alignment of its purposes, core functions and resources; and define the future direction of the institution. The institution monitors the effectiveness of the implementation of its plans and revises them as appropriate. (Refer to evidence 4.1)

{ Guidelines: A clear charge to planning bodies with a regular schedule and the existence of an understandable and coherent plan for assessing the attainment of educational objectives must be developed. Evidence of the ways the results of planning and evaluation are linked to decision- making is demonstrable. }

Evidence for 4.1


4.2. Planning processes at the institution define and, to the extent possible, align academic, personnel, fiscal, physical,and technological needs with the strategic objectives and priorities of the institution.

Evidence for 4.5


4.3. Planning processes are informed by appropriately defined and analyzed quantitative and qualitative data, and include consideration of evidence of educational effectiveness, including student learning. (Refer to evidence 4.3)

Evidence for 4.3


Questions for Institutional Engagement

1. How effectively does planning and evaluation occur within the institution at multiple levels and across units? To what extent do planning efforts lead to priorities and clear institutional implementation activities?

2. How well do planning, evaluation, and institutional research activities fit together, and to what extent are they aligned with the institution's purposes and character?

3. How does the institution ensure that the information it collects and maintains about itself is current, accurate, and of the right kinds? How effectively does it assess its capacity to analyze this information and use the results of such assessments for improvements?


4.4. The institution employs a deliberate set of quality assurance processes at each level of institutional functioning, including new curriculum and program approval processes, periodic program review, ongoing evaluation, and data collection. These processes involve assessments of effectiveness, track results over time, and use the results of these assessments to revise and improve structures and processes, curricula, and pedagogy.

Evidence for 4.4

4.4a 4.4b

4.5. Institutional research addresses strategic data needs, is disseminated in a timely manner, and is incorporated in institutional review and decision-making processes. Included among the priorities of the institutional research function is the identification of indicators and the collection of appropriate data to support the assessment of student learning consistent with the institution's purposes and educational objectives. Periodic reviews of institutional research and data collection are conducted to develop more effective indicators of performance and to assure the suitability and usefulness of data. (Refer to evidence 4.5)

{ Guideline: The institution exhibits existence of clear institutional research capacities with appropriate reporting lines and support appropriate to the institution's size and scope. Institutional research or equivalent databases are developed that are sufficient to meet all external reporting needs (e.g. IPEDS), and there are appropriate ways to access or disseminate this information through publications, reports, or widely-accessible databases. }

Evidence for 4.5


4.6. Leadership at all levels is committed to improvement based on the results of the processes of inquiry, evaluation and assessment used throughout the institution. The faculty take responsibility for evaluating the effectiveness of the teaching and learning process and use the results for improvement. Assessments of the campus environment in support of academic and co-curricular objectives are also undertaken and used, and are incorporated into institutional planning.

{ Guideline: The institution has clear, well established policies and practices for gathering and analyzing information that leads to a culture of evidence and improvement. }

Evidence for 4.6


4.7. The institution, with significant faculty involvement, engages in ongoing inquiry into the processes of teaching and learning, as well as into the conditions and practices that promote the kinds and levels of learning intended by the institution. The outcomes of such inquiries are applied to the design of curricula, the design and practice of pedagogy, and to the improvement of evaluation means and methodology.

Evidence for 4.7


4.8. Appropriate stakeholders, including alumni, employers, practitioners, and others defined by the institution, are involved in the assessment of the effectiveness of educational programs.

Evidence for 4.8


Questions for Institutional Engagement

1. How are stakeholders involved in the assessment of the effectiveness of educational programs? How is their feedback disseminated and used to inform improvement?

2. In what ways does the institution review the effectiveness of its quality assurance processes to assure its alignment with institutional priorities and educational objectives?

3. To what extent does the institution explore assumptions that shape the design and organization of its educational objectives and programs, and generate new approaches to teaching and learning?

4. In what ways does the institution identify effective approaches to assessing teaching and learning within the institution and at other institutions. How does it incorporate these practices to increase the institutional capacity to engage issues of educational effectiveness?

5. To what extent does the institution have a collective vision of educational attainment that is clearly stated and widely understood?

6. In what ways does the institution reinforce a culture of evidence throughout the organization?


Questions or Comments
Sonoma State University • 1801 East Cotati Ave. Rohnert Park, CA 94928-3609
Division of Academics Affairs • SSU Portfolio/WASC Accreditation
707.664.2790 • FAX 707-664-4060 • Contact Dr. Rose Bruce