The Foundations of Excellence® model encourages the use of multiple sources of evidence. Most campuses will have survey results from various existing instruments that may be useful to the task force in evaluating the campus’s performance on each Dimension. However, the experiences of campuses that participated in the pilot administration of the Foundations project in 2003 – 2004 were that existing surveys focused primarily on student characteristics or “what students do” rather than “what institutions do.” What is needed in the Foundations of Excellence self-study process is evidence about what institutions do–how they structure and implement the various components of the first year and transfer student experience.
To meet the needs of task forces for multiple perspectives on institutional efforts, the Gardner Institute, in partnership with Educational Benchmarking, Inc. , developed two surveys designed especially to support the work of the Foundations task force. The first instrument gathers information from selected faculty and staff members about the effectiveness of current first-year and transfer practices and policies. The second instrument gathers information from first-year and transfer students about their views of campus efforts.
These surveys are designed so that groups of questions can be linked to each of the nine Dimensions. Results are integrated into the Foundations technology so that task force members can do sophisticated analysis by disaggregating the data on a number of population demographics. The combination of tools and data allows the task force to go far beyond looking at “average” scores.
The use of the Foundations of Excellence surveys is an essential component of the overall Foundations of Excellence process.
During the Foundations of Excellence process, both extensive training and technical support for survey use are provided by both the Gardner Institute and Educational Benchmarking, Inc.