Skip navigation
All Places > Institutional Solutions > Blog
1 2 3 Previous Next

Institutional Solutions

31 posts

After nearly twenty years as the most widely used program assessment solution in higher education, we are excited to announce the Assessment and Impact Award. This recognition was created to highlight programs who are effectively using program assessments to improve outcomes.  The following four institutions’ housing programs were awarded:


  • John Carroll University in Ohio for high performance related to personal interactions
  • Southwest Oregon Community College for significant improvement related to student staff
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte for significant improvement related to diverse interactions
  • University of Tennessee at Knoxville for high performance related to student staff


Award recipients were selected using an evaluation process that included an analysis of multi-year assessment data as well as interviews and with housing and residence life leaders by members of the Benchworks Analytics and Research Team.


Be on the lookout for information on how to be considered for next year’s Assessment and Impact Award for housing and residence life programs at

Roompact and Skyfactor Benchworks are pleased to announce a strategic collaboration to explore how combining Benchworks' nationally-validated assessment, analytics and benchmarking with Roompact’s expertise in residential education and curricular software can help campuses gain deeper insights on their operations and students to empower continuous improvement.


Formerly known as EBI, Benchworks is a Macmillan Learning company that provides more than thirty student affairs assessments mapped to accreditation and professional standards: including Resident and Student Staff surveys that provide insights for departments of housing and residence life to improve their overall practice. Benchworks also offers a New Student Survey that helps identify student retention risk factors and provides opportunities for staff support and intervention.


Roompact, a residence life and education software and services company, provides departments of departments of housing and residence life with a variety of tools to aid staff members in improving their efficiency, and in tracking and assessing programs, services, and interventions with students throughout the academic year.  In addition to helping with operations, Roompact has a special emphasis and unique tools to aid in student learning, assessment, and residential curriculum development.


In the coming weeks researchers from Roompact and Benchworks will be conducting interviews and focus groups to gather feedback on the types of collaboration that may most benefit residence life professionals.


For more information visit:

Several classic works on college student development emphasize the importance of interactions to student development, learning, and success. To that end, many institutions put significant effort and resources towards efforts to help students build positive peers connections. Intuitively, higher education professionals understand the importance of positive peer connections. However, it is crucial to highlight data and research to back up these stories and theories. This note explores peer connections in first-year college students using responses from a national survey of over 25,000 first-year college students from nearly 30 institutions in the United States.


Key Questions:

  1. To what degree did first-year students report making connections with peers?
  2. Were there differences in peer connections across different populations?
  3. How did peer connections relate to the first-year student experience?


The concept of homesickness in college students has likely been around for as long as students have been leaving home to go to college. However, there are no universally accepted definitions. Few measures of homesickness in college students exist. Little research has been conducted connecting homesickness directly to the experiences of college students and their academic success, and those that have been done are typically limited to a single campus. This note explores the concept of homesickness in college students using response from a national survey of over 25,000 first-year college students from nearly 30 institutions in the United States.


Key Questions:

  1. What is homesickness?
  2. How prevalent is homesickness in first-year students?
  3. How is homesickness related to the first-year student experience?


The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that between 2016 and 2026, overall employment of advanced nurse practitioners will increase by about 31%1 . The aging population in the United States as well as an emphasis on preventative care have created greater demand for nurse practitioners with advanced degrees.


Given the crucial nature of the work these professionals do, it is important to understand how a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program contributes to the high-level mastery of skills essential in the medical field. This research note details findings from a national dataset constructed from the AACN/Benchworks MSN Exit Assessment of over 8,000 MSN students from nearly 150 colleges and universities in the United States. In particular, this research notes explores the relationship between overall learning, student characteristics, and various components of the MSN student experience.


Key Questions:

  1. Who are our MSN program graduates?
  2. How do graduating MSN students rate their overall experience?
  3. Which learning factors relate to overall learning in MSN programs?
  4. Which satisfaction factors relate to overall learning in MSN programs?


Recreation centers play a vital role in the university experience. These services offer students opportunities to participate in both structured and unstructured activities such as fitness classes, intramural sports teams, and outdoor adventures like hiking and camping. Recreational facilities and events encourage students to develop health and wellness practices and are associated with a number of positive health and learning outcomes.

This research note explores students’ satisfaction with campus recreation services and the learning outcomes associated with them. The findings, summarized as five key insights, are drawn from a national dataset constructed from the responses of over 2,500 college students to the Benchworks Recreation Services Assessment during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Higher education researchers have long understood the role campus involvement plays in supporting student success. Extracurricular participation supplements the classroom experience by allowing students to grow and learn as part of their broader college experience. As such, ensuring our students engage in these experiences—and get the most out of them—is crucial. This research note explores the relationship between student activities participation and other educational outcomes. The findings, presented as five key insights, were drawn from a national dataset constructed from the responses of over 5,000 college students to the ACUI/Benchworks Student Activities Assessment.

A major consideration for any assessment project is the timing of it. In fact, questions related to timing are some of the most common questions that Skyfactor’s Analytics & Research Team gets from clients. And, it’s a good question to ask. Considering the timing of your assessment is a crucial component of a good assessment project. Previously, our Director of Analytics & Research, Sherry Woosley, wrote about the timing of assessments, in particular whether or not there are advantages to surveying in fall versus spring.


While the particular timing of your assessment is important, so is the frequency. Another common questions we get from clients relates to how often to assess, in particular, if a benchmarking assessment should be administered every year. This question is especially common for campuses that have conducted benchmarking assessments for multiple consecutive years and say that, at a high level, the results simply don’t change that much.


There are certainly valid reasons for considering a shift to conducting a particular benchmarking assessment every other year or as part of a cycle. Cost, in particular, is one benefit. There is an assumption that, since the high-level results don’t change much from year to year, that an every-other-year approach will save money and provide a sufficient snapshot of any changes over time. And, campuses may save money or be able to triangulate data better by pulling in other assessments in the “off-years.”


But, there are real benefits to conducting a benchmarking survey each and every year that must be taken into consideration.


Justifying Needs

Annual benchmarking data allows a department to make a more compelling case for justifying particular needs. By breaking down results across campus, departments are more easily able to identify exactly where improvements should be made. For example, for a housing department looking to make a difference on facilities satisfaction, identifying specific buildings that need improvement (even something as simple as new paint in common areas) can go a long way.

Identifying issues not only at a granular level but also as they come up allow for campuses to justify changes, especially minor changes that can have an immediate impact. One of the common reason campuses administer a survey in fall versus spring is to allow time to react and implement changes during the current academic year that reflect the pressing needs of your current students. Surveying each year allows your campus to take quick action and make a difference.


Motivating Staff

One of the value points of benchmarking data is the ability to use data to motivate and excite staff. Many campuses use the ability to share reports to current staff as a mechanism to review performance and identify areas of improvement. And, since reports can be filtered to a population or area that is directly applicable to individual staff members, it makes the data more personal. Sharing filtered reports with residence hall directors, assistant directors of student activities, orientation leaders, and more, you can use annual results to motivate your staff and focus their efforts on areas that can make a difference.


Studying Smaller Populations

Annual surveys allow for opportunities to better focus on smaller populations. At the aggregate level, campus-level results may look really good! However, many benefit from using the survey to target specific populations to improve experiences more intimately. If you are using the survey on a yearly basis, you are better able to address issues that disproportionately affect smaller populations, as well as focusing on improvements to different, smaller populations each year.


Demonstrating Improvement

Annual benchmarking data allow your campus to demonstrate the impact of your efforts each and every year. Our efforts to improve the student experience never stop. So, collecting data each year allows for better demonstration of the impact of particular efforts. The before and after snapshot of a new programming effort, targeted staff outreach, new learning outcomes, or facilities improvements are incredibly valuable to demonstrating that your efforts make a difference. If left to data collected only every few years, it’s more difficult to identify which efforts had an impact on the learning and satisfaction of your students.


Ultimately, collecting data annually allows for campuses to better tell a compelling data story highlighting their hard work. While those who work closely with student affairs departments understand the incredible impact of their efforts, compelling data points are necessary to justify resources, education external stakeholders, and justify efforts, in particular in a time where campuses are being asked to do more with less resources. Annual data collection empowers departments to tell a more impactful story of the hard work they do each and every year.

Whether to demonstrate the impact of efforts, justify resources, better identify needs, or continually motivate staff, there are significant benefits to collecting reliable and valid benchmarking data each year.

Whether inside the classroom, in residence halls, or in student activities, opportunities for students to make meaningful connections are plentiful. These connections lead to a sense of community and belonging, which in turn support student success. Data from a variety of Skyfactor assessments demonstrate the prevalence and importance of positive connections across campus.

The positive impacts of student employees to our campus offices and departments are clear. They perform essential duties that allow the institution to function on a day-to-day basis. But, these employment opportunities also help our students to build valuable professional skills to support their post-graduation plans while providing them with a source of income while in school. Student employment programs are obligated to provide a safe and productive work environment to student employees in order to maximize their learning potential as well as their contributions to the institution.


This research note details findings from a national dataset constructed from the 2017-2018 Benchworks Student Employee Survey of over 1,000 student employees from 12 colleges and universities in the United States. In particular, this research notes details demographics of student employees, explores overall perceptions of the experience, and details concepts that have the strongest statistical relationships with overall perceptions of the experience.


Key Questions:

  1. Who are our student employees?
  2. How do student employees rate their overall experience?
  3. Which satisfaction factors have the strongest relationship with overall program effectiveness?
  4. Which learning factors have the strongest relationship with overall program effectiveness

Benchmarking is one of many powerful tools that can be used by higher education professionals to make sense of survey results. Benchmarking is the practice of making comparisons in order to drive continuous improvement. To some, using a benchmarking survey is a challenging and complicated endeavor. However, benchmarking doesn’t have to be scary. Read on for more information about benchmarking surveys, why they are valuable, and tips for working them into your assessment toolbox!



January 23rd @ 2:00 PM ET

Enhance the level of learning in your classroom by asking higher level questions for problem solving, making connections, and peer interaction. This webinar, led by Cindy Albert of the University of Wisconsin--Eau Claire, will provide tips for creating question prompts, as well as how to craft the follow up questions to encourage deeper learning.




Intuitively, we know a lot has changed in higher education over the past ten years, both with our students and our practices, in particular with campus housing. And, we can think of many stories that reflect these changes. But, which of these stories show up in our data, and what in the data surprise us? Using data from the last ten years of the ACUHO-I/Benchworks Resident Assessment, we’ll explore ten key trends from the last ten years in housing.



In the search for and creation of open educational resources (OER), faculty must be aware of copyright and open license protections and uses of materials under the law. All types of works have a license outlining terms or conditions of use. This webinar will review all forms of licensing of published and unpublished works designated all rights reserved, in the public domain, or with a Creative Commons license. We will discuss the rules for distributing, performing, displaying, copying, and/or making derivatives of a work based on its license.


One of the biggest challenges with assessment data is making sense of it and acting on it. How do we know when results are outstanding or concerning? What if the results are below average? What should our target performance be? Benchmarking can help provide answers to these questions and more! In this webinar, we'll explore what benchmarking is, why campuses would use benchmarking, and different types of benchmarking.


Clickers can dramatically improve your students’ engagement in the classroom. But, like all teaching tools, there are more and less effective ways of incorporating them into your class. This webinar will include a brief review of the motivations for using clickers, as well as practical guidelines for ensuring their success, including writing effective questions, facilitating student discussion and choosing a grading policy that minimizes stress for you and your students. Enrollment will be limited to ensure all participants have time to ask questions and share experiences.


Data from benchmarking assessments has the potential provide valuable insights into the college student experience, put results into context, and motivate staff to drive program improvements. However, applying benchmarking data in practice to things like strategic planning, accreditation, and resource allocation can be challenging. What are some practical strategies for making the most of our benchmarking data? In this webinar, professionals from several four-year institutions will highlight examples of how they have used benchmarking data from ACUI/Skyfactor assessments—including student union, activities, and student employees—to improve both their work and the experiences of their students.


Student engagement and affordability are hot topics on most campuses of higher education. In this webinar, Leif Nelson, Director of Learning Technology Solutions at Boise State University, will discuss these important topics, and will share specific examples and initiatives of how Boise State is addressing these challenges to help their students succeed.


Using a student engagement tool integrated into your campus learning management system can help engage students and help you measure student performance. Join Dr. Leslie Hendrix, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina and active learning guru, as she shares her best practices from using both the iClicker student engagement tool and Canvas learning management system in her own classroom.


Nursing programs purpose themselves to be accountable to communities of interest—to include the nursing profession, consumers, employers, peer institutions of higher education, students and their families. CCNE accreditation validates the success a nursing program achieved related to mission, goals and outcomes. As nursing faculty and administrators, we have to be able to nimbly understand and communicate our program outcomes based on data we collected and analyzed—we need agility to draw conclusions as to what our communities of interest value and what makes our program unique and effective in fulfilling our mission. Join this webinar to learn how to use internal and external data sources to provide evidence of programmatic assessment plan effectiveness. The speaker will address ways to effectively “tell your success stories” to CCNE site visitors and communities of interest through use of multiple data sources. The audience will be given examples of how relevant data sharing, sculpted to fit specific communities of interest, can optimize and leverage program outcomes.


Join us to discover how iClicker is built on the science of active learning. Marcy Baughman, Director of Impact Research at Macmillan Learning, will discuss how her team is using learning research, learning design, data-driven insights and Impact Research to develop and refine the iClicker classroom engagement tool -- and how usage of iClicker can lead to higher student in-class engagement and better course outcomes.


This webinar, hosted by Kathy Roberts of the University of North Texas, presents how they implemented a new student response system--in this case, iClicker Cloud. Ideal for instructional technologists and those working in the departments of teaching and learning, Kathy will present steps (and mis-steps) they experienced along the way to an a successful implementation. This webinar is also well-suited for faculty and deparment heads interested in standardizing on a single student response system.


A vital component of CAEP accreditation is the need for reliable and valid data to demonstrate continuous program improvement. Part of the requirements, specifically those in standard four of the CAEP accreditation standards, call on teacher education programs to demonstrate not only satisfaction of program completers and employers, but also the preparedness of completers to positively impact student learning. In this webinar, one campus that recently earned CAEP accreditation will highlight how they use a variety of data sources—including national benchmarking assessments of graduating seniors, alumni, and employers—to support CAEP accreditation efforts, benchmark against peer institutions, and drive continuous improvements to their teacher education program.


Student Response systems are traditionally thought of as in-class tools. And why not? They are great for creating connections, improving student focus, identifying misconceptions, and giving every student a voice. But there are a variety of ways that schools are beginning to use Student Response systems. Dr. Kimi King of the University of North Texas will present some ways that she uses iClicker Cloud (the Student Response System at UNT) in creative, out of the box ways. This presentation is ideal for faculty or administrators interested in adopting a SRS for the institution, and how to maximize that investment.


One of the biggest challenges with assessment data is making sense of it and acting on it. How do we know when results are outstanding or concerning? What if the results are below average? What should our target performance be? Benchmarking can help provide answers to these questions and more! In this webinar, we'll explore what benchmarking is, why campuses would use benchmarking, and different types of benchmarking. Participants will learn about practical strategies for making the most of benchmarking data for any campus.

Sara Jo Lee

Nursing Education

Posted by Sara Jo Lee Nov 30, 2018

For almost two decades, in effort to evaluate (and therefore strengthen programming) as well as support accreditation, Skyfactor Benchworks in partnership with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) created assessments to measure the effectiveness of certain program elements from the student perspective.1


The findings from this assessment allowed for an exploration of how nursing programs influence and contribute to learning outcomes related to professional values, core competencies, technical skills, core knowledge, and role development.


Professional Values

In response to demonstrating accountability in areas such as advocacy for vulnerable patients, fairness in the delivery of care, honoring the rights of patients, and delivering culturally competent care, at least 75% of the students reported this as being taught at “moderate” or “large” extent.2


Core Competencies

At least 67% of students indicated the nursing program taught them to apply research-based knowledge as a basis for practice, to assist patients in understanding/interpreting the meaning of health information as well as correctly evaluating a patient’s ability to assume the responsibility of self-care. 60% of students reported that the program taught them to make effective presentations.


Technical Skills

80% of students indicated they gained technical skills related to assessing vital signs and applying infection control measures from the nursing program. Approximately 75% reported being taught skills related to providing pain reduction measures and medication administration by all routes. Related to those, 60% and approximately 67% of students indicated being taught to manage wounds and provide emotional support in preparation for therapeutic procedures, respectively.


Respondents were divided into groups by previous healthcare experience before entering the nursing program: less than one year, 1-4 years, more than 4 years. When analyzing responses, the differences in professional value and core competencies were statistically significant but small. The biggest difference was in technical skills with respondents entering the nursing program with less than four years of healthcare experience being more likely than other respondents to indicate that the nursing program taught them technical skills such as assessing vital signs and applying infection control measures. There are also significant and important differences among degree programs as it relates to learning outcomes. In a comparison of BSN, RN, and Accelerated programs, respondents from the Accelerated program were far less likely to indicate being taught learning outcomes related to professional values, core competencies, and technical skills than respondents completing BSN and RN relationships. To drill down further, while the percentages of BSN and RN completion respondents indicated their program had taught them learning outcomes related to professional values and core competencies, RN completion respondents were significantly less likely than BSN respondents to report their program had taught them to assess vital signs, apply infection control measures, provide pain medication measures, and administer medications by all routes.


Core Knowledge

At least 65% of students reported that the nursing program taught them to apply an ethical, decision-making framework to clinical situations and to assess predictive factors that influence the health of patients; and 60% reported being taught to use appropriate technologies to assess patients, communicate with healthcare professionals to deliver high-quality patient care, and understand the effects of health policies on diverse populations (with an understanding of the global healthcare environment).


Role Development

The majority of respondents reported that they were taught the idea of lifelong learning in support of excellence in nursing practice. More than 60% indicated they were taught to incorporate nursing standards into practice, integrate theory to develop a foundation for practice, and delegate nursing care while retaining accountability.


As was the case of technical skills, previous healthcare experience impacted the degree to which students indicated the nursing program taught key core knowledge and role development learning outcomes. Students with four or more years of previous healthcare experience were more likely to report on being largely taught learning outcomes outside of technical skills to a large degree such as: understanding the effects of healthcare policies on diverse populations (73%), assisting patients to achieve a peaceful end of life (71%), understanding how healthcare delivery systems are organized and the global healthcare environment, and incorporate knowledge of cost factors when delivering care. Along with reporting a higher value on life-long learning, respondents indicated being taught to integrate theories and concepts from liberal education into nursing practice and delegating nursing care while retaining accountability.


There were also notable differences between degree programs as it related to learning outcomes with significantly fewer respondents from Accelerated nursing programs indicating that they were taught learning outcomes related to core knowledge than BSN and RN completion respondents.


Overall, the majority of student respondents indicated the nursing program (regardless of program or previous healthcare experience) had taught them to achieve a variety of key learning outcomes related to professional values, core competencies, and technical skills.



1. Skyfactor Benchmarks, in partnership with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), created the Nursing Education Assessments to measure the effectiveness of programs from the student’s perspective. During the 2013-2014 academic year, 24,793 students participated in the undergraduate assessment.

2. All percentages reported here indicate responses of “moderate” and “large” extent.

Macmillan Learning remains committed to helping all users enjoy equal access to our digital learning solutions. We put accessibility, information security and user privacy at the forefront of our product development and marketing practices. Check out our VP of Information Security & Privacy, Stephen Davis, discussing our commitment to accessibility, security and respect of our users' privacy.


Owing to the immense responsibilities entrusted to teachers, teacher education programs are tasked with setting a curriculum that prepares students for the challenges and rigors of professional teaching. Administrators must identify which components of the program are most effective, which are not as effective, and refocus their efforts accordingly. Data from the 2017-2018 Benchworks Teacher Education Exit survey provides program administrators with valuable insight into students’ overall learning and the aspects of the program that contribute to it.


This research note details findings from the Benchworks Teacher Education Exit Assessment of over 2,500 graduating teacher education students from 21 colleges and universities in the United States. In particular, this research notes explores concepts—both learning and satisfaction—that relate to overall learning as a result of the teacher education program experience.


Key Questions:

  1. Who are our teacher education program graduates?
  2. How do graduating teacher education students rate their overall experience?
  3. Which learning factors relate to overall learning in teacher education programs?
  4. Which satisfaction factors relate to overall learning in teacher education programs?