In outcomes assessment, affiliations are the links between an institution’s constituents (people who are or have been associated in some way with the institution such as students, alumni, faculty, or staff) and the Units, Programs, and Sections that make up the departments and curriculum of that institution. These affiliations make it possible to track and report on data about how people and the various parts of an institution interact.
Affiliations are made up of a Person Record and a connection to a Unit, Program, or Section within the institution. Person Records allow an institution to enter and manage data elements regarding constituents. Affiliations connect the constituent’s data with Units, Programs, and Sections. Most Person Record data is directly populated from the institution’s Student Information System (SIS) and regularly updated to load additional records, and to capture modifications needed to existing Person Records. Department chairs and deans (and their respective administrative support staff) generate reports comparing various data elements of Person Records within their respective Units, Programs, or Sections.
Person Records can be affiliated with multiple entities, creating the basis for useful trend and comparison reports. For example, Person Records for all engineering majors are affiliated with the Unit that represents the School of Engineering, the University Unit, and the Student Placement Office Unit. Some of these records are also affiliated with discipline specific programs such as Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, and others are affiliated with other programs and Units such as ESOL (English as a Second or Other Language) and Financial Aid. By affiliating the engineering students’ Person Records with different Units, a survey can be sent to all graduating seniors from the Student Placement Office to determine post-graduate plans, an evaluation of the School of Engineering can be deployed to all sophomores, and a report can be run showing how many engineering students speak English as a second or other language.
Ultimately, Reports become part of an Assessment Project and may also become part of an Assessment Initiative. Reports measure expected outcomes against collected data. Analysis of the results of Reports can then be used as evidence for change, further study, or the basis of the next assessment cycle.