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Institutional Effectiveness (IE) is responsible for ensuring USF compliance with the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) assessment requirements. We are also responsible for the submission of official reports on these activities.

Institutional Effectiveness ensures compliance of the following types of assessment at USF:

  • Undergraduate and Graduate Majors and Certificate Programs;
  • Student Support Services Units;
  • Institutes and Centers;
  • Administrative Units.

Questions below cover most of the information pertaining to the assessment processes at USF.


What is Assessment?

Assessment is a systematic and methodologically sound collection, review, and use of information about educational programs (and Student Support Services) undertaken to improve student learning and development. Assessment involves:

  • Making our expectations explicit and public;
  • Setting appropriate criteria and standards for learning quality;
  • Systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well performance matches those expectations and standards;
  • Using the resulting information to document, explain, and improve performance.

The Assessment Glossary provides descriptions of many concepts and terms you may encounter while working on your assessment.

Why do we Assess Academic Programs?

The primary purpose of assessment is to improve student learning and student success. USF‘s primary goal is to promote the lifelong success of well-educated, highly-skilled, and adaptable alumnae/alumni who lead enriched lives, are engaged citizens, and thrive in a dynamic global market. The student learning outcomes assessment process helps programs identify what students should be able to do by the end of an educational program and determine the degree to which they meet these goals; furthermore, assessment process asks programs to consider how to use the systematically gathered information on student performance to improve the teaching and learning process.

Additionally, assessment is mandated by both the Florida State University System Board of Governors (FL SUS BOG) and our accrediting body, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

When should I submit my Academic Assessment Plans/Reports?

Due Dates. Programs submit their assessment reports on an annual basis. Each college has a specific month in which their assessment plans/reports are due; please refer to the Assessment Calendar for a specific date for your college.

Plan vs. Report. Every year, programs submit an Assessment Report (required sections: Assessment Results, Use of Assessment Results) for the previous year, and an Assessment Plan (required sections: Student Learning Outcomes, Methods of Assessment, Performance Targets) for the upcoming year.

Three-Year Cycle. The University of South Florida is on a three-year assessment cycle. This means that stated Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) should be assessed over the three-year period. Please note that plans and reports are still required each year; however, the focus of the plans and reports will shift from year to year. After year three, you may revise your SLOs and repeat the process beginning with a new year one.

  • Year One
    • Establish program-specific SLOs based on the goals of the program.
    • Develop a curriculum map showing the courses in which learning outcomes are introduced, reinforced, mastered, and assessed.
    • Identify methods that will be used to assess SLOs and a plan for assessing them.
    • Collect, analyze, and use the collected assessment data to pilot test the feasibility of the assessment measures and processes described in the plan, and (if needed) revise the assessment plan.
  • Year Two
    • Collect additional data (or improved data if measures were changed based on the pilot test results from Year One).
    • Analyze the data, and produce a report that summarizes the assessment findings. The assessment report must include an action plan for using the assessment results to improve curriculum or instruction.
  • Year Three
    • Implement the action plan to improve the curriculum or instruction that was developed during year two.
    • Assess the impact of the curricular or pedagogical changes that were made.
    • Begin developing the assessment plan for the next three-year cycle.

Where should I submit my Academic Assessment Plans/Reports?

Xitracs. Assessment Plans and Reports are submitted through Xitracs. The following documents provide guidance on how to use and navigate Xitracs.

How do I ensure my Academic Assessment Plans/Reports are useful and compliant?

Assessment Standards. To help ensure that your assessment plan or report is useful and follows all of the requirements and expectations imposed by SACSCOC and FL BOG, we created a concise list of Assessment Standards. When creating and submitting an assessment plan/report, please make sure that all of the outlined requirements are fulfilled.

Assessment Review Rubric (found in Academic Assessment Handbook).

Library of Exemplary Assessment Reports. To help you with the assessment process we created a Library of Exemplary Assessment Reports – a sample of well-written assessment reports. These reports, published online with permission from the programs, may serve you as a great guide in your assessment development process.

I need additional support in completing my Assessment Plans/Reports. How can I get help?

Institutional Effectiveness Staff. If you have questions about the technical and compliance aspects of the assessment process please reach out to us at We can help clarify policies and procedures, assessment requirements, due dates, and other organizational aspects of the assessment process at USF. Additionally, Virtual Office Hours are available every Friday from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM. You may drop in during these hours and a representative from our office will be able to assist you.

Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. If you need additional support with designing your assessment process, please feel free to reach out to the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) at USF. CITL is available for individual and group consultations to support your learning, teaching, and assessment goals. This includes providing workshops, research, or literature on a particular academic initiative or area of interest. CITL is available to facilitate conversations and discussions centered on learning, teaching, and assessment and can provide programming and training support as needed.

I wish to learn more, what additional tools and external resources can deepen my understanding of Academic Assessment?

The following assessment resources address various aspects of assessment that you may also find helpful.


What is Student Support Services Assessment?

Assessment of student support services is similar to the assessment of majors and certificates, but directed towards academic and support services units. These units provide direct support to faculty and students as related to their educational programs, indirect support for student learning, or a specific co-curricular mission that supports the college experience.

Examples of these units include admissions, financial aid, academic records, the academic success center, the writing center, career services, computer labs, university police, student life/affairs units, ATLE, etc. Other units that are also included are athletics, diversity & inclusion, college deans offices, Innovative Education, USF World, and USF Libraries.

Why do we Assess Student Support Services?

Assessment of Student Support Services is mandated by the SACSCOC Requirement 8.2c:

  • "The institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of seeking improvement based on analysis of the results of academic and student services that support student success" (p. 20). (Student outcomes: academic and student services)

When and Where should I submit my Assessment Plans/Reports for the Student Support Services under my purview?

Xitracs. Assessment Plans and Reports are submitted through Xitracs. The following documents provide guidance on how to use and navigate Xitracs.

2020 (- 2021) REPORTS AND 2021 (- 2022) PLANS
College/Area Due Date
  • College of Engineering
January 31st, 2021
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of Behavioral and Community Sciences Office of Student Services
  • College of Nursing Academic Student Affairs and Undergraduate Student Success
  • College of Public Health
  • College of the Arts Student Academic Services and Advising Office
  • Cyber Florida
  • Graduate Studies
  • Innovative Education
  • Library Services and Collection
  • Marine Science
  • Morsani College of Medicine
  • Muma College of Business
  • Patel College of Global Sustainability
  • Financial Aid & Registrarial Services
  • Student Engagement & Residence Life
  • Community Engagement & Career Readiness
  • Health & Wellness
  • Undergraduate Studies
  • Taneja College of Pharmacy
  • USF World
August 31st, 2021
  • Office of Admissions
September 30th, 2021
  • College of Education
  • Judy Genshaft Honors College
October 31st, 2021

How Do I Assess Student Support Services under my purview?

Student Support Services are assessed at the level of Associate Dean for a college or Associate Vice President for services that are not associated with a college. Associate Dean/Associate Vice President for the college/area then provides an overarching assessment plan/report for all of the student support services units within the structure of their college/area.


What is Administrative Assessment?

At USF, it is expected that all administrative support service units have developed and implemented a process for setting goals and objectives, measuring the extent to which they are met, and making improvements to the unit's functioning based on the results of the measures.

Administrative support service units generally serve the educational mission of the institution in a much more indirect way than do offices related to educational programs or academic support and student services. Examples of administrative support units include finance, facilities management, parking and transportation, administrative services, human resources, advancement, the president's office, etc.

Expected outcomes for administrative support services typically include outcomes such as efficiency and quality of service targets (e.g., energy usage, response times, error rates, "clean report" targets, satisfaction rates), monetary targets (e.g., fund-raising targets, research grant targets, auxiliary income targets), etc. Often, the goals are explicit parts of the budgeting process or components of the strategic plan.

Why do we Assess Administrative Effectiveness?

Assessment of Administrative Units is mandated by the SACSCOC requirement 7.3:

  • "The institution identifies expected outcomes of its administrative support services and demonstrates the extent to which the outcomes are achieved" (p. 19). (Administrative effectiveness)

The purpose of this Core Requirement is to ensure that the institution has an appropriate broad-based approach to institution-wide effectiveness that supports its mission and serves as a framework for planning. This is followed by evaluation activities that allow the institution to discern whether it is making the progress it anticipated in its planning efforts, and making corrections as needed.