|This edition of the Commission on Assessment and Evaluation Newsletter is looking at effective use of assessment results. Thank you to the January contributers:
Andrew Sonn – George Washington University
Tony Esposito – Bridgewater State University
Angela Street - Edgewood College
Moneyball and Veteran Services: Using Assessment Results
If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve probably read Michael Lewis’s Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game or seen the film. In Moneyball a baseball general manager uses quantitative methodology to build a competitive team on a shoestring budget. Baseball seemingly shares little with university assessment: the former is our national pastime and the latter is an activity affecting the lives of thousands of university stakeholders. Upon further reflection, the convergences between Moneyball and our efforts to use assessment on college campuses become apparent.
My Moneyball experience came in 2008 when my institution, George Washington University, decided to open a veteran services office. Using mixed methods, my team gathered and analyzed data to plan and implement this initiative. We surveyed and interviewed current student veterans, formed focus groups, and benchmarked services and facilities. From this experience, I learned a few important lessons:
• Benchmark services and facilities with higher education leaders rather than peer institutions. Many of our peer institutions were behind the curve while higher education leaders were ahead of it.
• Triangulate data from multiple surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Rather than basing big decisions on one opinion, we used common themes in our findings to set our course.
• Select samples carefully. We had more undergraduate than graduate student veterans in our sample, skewing results. We corrected for this discrepancy when developing our plan.
• Write useful, readable reports. We submitted a three page report including current status, a series of long- and short-term recommendations, and budget estimates to executive leaders.
Although we did not win a World Series ring, Military Times ranked our veteran services office among the best in the country this year: http://www.militarytimesedge.com/projects/best-for-veterans/best-colleges-for-veterans/2011/ Whether in baseball or student affairs, assessment and data analysis improve performance.
To view the Moneyball film “trailer”, visit: http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi3229326361/
Additional Tips and Resources
- Collect results from a longitudinal approach (when necessary) to show what the data you are sharing is proving overtime
- Use the data to improve your next program or service to improve, eliminate an initiative or to create a new one
- Share your results to department heads and administrators to show a need for more funds and budget increases within your division or department
- Use online data collecting systems to produce surveys and evaluations. These instruments can tailor your specific needs and offer a clear reporting format to analyze and share your results
- Use the results for staff development, by sharing the areas where improvements or staff recognitions can be made