Identifying Key Performance Indicators Education Essay

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Introduction

At the end of any year universities update its previous strategic plan and produced a new strategic plan for next year and so on. While the university mission remains the same the new strategic plan is underpinned by five strategic priorities.

1. Enhancing Teaching, Learning and Research

2. Engaging with the professions and professional life

3. Building Partnerships, Pathways and precincts

4. Improving outcomes for students and staff

5. Strengthening enterprise and the resource base

From these strategic priorities, a number of effectiveness and efficiency indicators have been condensed from the university's full set of KPI's. these selected KPI's detailed below are also generally consistent with those used elsewhere within the higher education sector and focus on the university's core business which is teaching , learning and research and core stakeholders which are students. (Reh)

Effectiveness indicators

Enhanced Teaching, learning and research

Retention rate

Course satisfaction

Quality of teaching

Research funding

Improving outcomes for students and staff

Graduate employment

Share of first preferences

Efficiency indicators

Research higher degree completion

Research and development publication research per 10 academic staff

Teaching related expenditure per student load

Identifying Key Performance Indicators

We are choosing Enhanced teaching, learning and research as our KPI for discussion here and analyze it in the best possible way.

Enhanced teaching, learning and research:

Every university is focused on that:

The education of learners for the knowledge based service professionals and will be recognized for the quality of its teaching and its learning opportunities in those fields. In a teaching and research university research will inform about its teaching. It will be sought out to participate in research projects and productive partnerships. This will be because of the university's excellence in collaboration and the delivery of research outcomes that contribute to policy development and improved practice in the professional fields of business, human services and education and to advances in health, information and communication technologies and the environment.

As mentioned above KPI's related to these outcomes are:

Retention rate

Course satisfaction

Quality of teaching

Research funding

Retention rate -

The retention rate is used to indicate how effective the university is at retaining its students from one year to next. Many factors impact on a student's decision to remain at a university. These include university-controlled factors such as course content, teaching styles, learning support and institutional infrastructure. They also include factors such as individual expectations, financial and social circumstances over which a university has a little or no influence. Nevertheless this indicator is commonly used to show a university's ability to retain its students

Student retention has been a high priority for the university's teaching and learning activities and is a focus of the teaching and learning management plan. As an example ECU has maintained relatively strong performance in its retention rate for 2003. The 2003 result is a further improvement on the 2002 result and consolidates a period of improvement in this area. While there are many factors contributing to performance against this indicator the result is consistent with the university's expectations of strong performance.

Course satisfaction-

Course satisfaction is used to indicate how satisfied students are with the education are services provided, given their expectations and experience of their course. This indicator is derived from the results of the course experience questionnaire which is conducted annually by the university. In case of

ECU it is graduate careers council of Australia (GCCA). The number of 2003 ECU bachelor pass graduates surveyed in total during 2004 was 3343 of whom 1900 responded for a 57 response rate. This is a lagging indicator reflecting the time to publication by GCCA. Results for 2003 are the latest available for the current reporting period.

The university has continued its strong performance in this indicator and is on par with the sector. While there has been a decrease of 2.2 percent points on course satisfaction between 1999 and 2000, this has been followed by an increase of 1.9 percent points between 2000 and 2003 since 2000 the university has seen increases in the level of course satisfaction each year.

Quality of teaching-

Quality of teaching is defined as the mean of responses to few factors mentioned below:

The teaching staff of this course motivated me to do my best work

The staff put a lot of time into commenting on my work

The staff made a real effort to understand difficulties I might be having with my work

The teaching staff normally gave me helpful feedback on how I was going

My lectures were extremely good at explaining things

The teaching staff worked hard to make their subjects interesting

The mean has a possible range of -100 to +100. This measure is more specifically related to teaching than course satisfaction which draws only on the CEQ's overall satisfaction scale.

The university's results have shown an upward trend for all years other than 2000 where the measure dropped to 9 from 12 in 1999, before increasing to 18 in 2002 and 20 in 2003. ECU's performance sees it ranked at mid point among the universities.

Research funding-

Research funding obtained during a prescribed year in terms of DEST categories is a measure of university's research activity.

It should be acknowledged that levels of research funding could be strongly influenced by the receipt of large competitive research council grants. The relatively small numbers of such grants may limit the capacity of the institution to maintain performance at high level. This is a lagging indicator reflecting the time in its publication by commonwealth dept. of education science and training.

The university's performance has improved over the period 1999-2002 before a small reduction in 2003. Figures for all categories other than category 3 are lower in 2003 than in previous year. The specific variation by category is reflective of vagaries of the competitive grant process and the pipelining effects of relatively small numbers of comparatively large grants working through systems. (What is a KPI)

Assessment of strengths of the KPI's

The key performance indicators can become the sole focus of attention for an organization, whether in the private or public sector. This may be beneficial in the short term if, for example, there is a particular issue that needs to be resolved but in the long term, to concentrate solely on a single measure of success can distort the way in which an organization performs and is perceived. In case of education the only measure of success of an institution is whether they have achieved a certain level by a certain age. But should this really be the only goal and measure of our schools and education system?

This is why it can be argued, a true measure of success can only be in a situation where a number of different measures are used. In this way a more rounded and comprehensive view of all aspects of the organization can be obtained.

Retention rate -

This factor depicts the power of institution to keep its students and staff with itself for longer period through quality education and good behavior. It clearly indicates that a high retention rate implies higher quality of education ie teaching, learning and research. there are so many options for students in form of different colleges and universities providing services better than others in such a competitive atmosphere the best survives and the one who can keep its quality high and stick with the principles is bound to do well which is shown by this factor because a college having high retention rate is definitely providing better quality work than others that is why students are still retaining their otherwise they would have changed the college or university as there are so many others available who are better at their works. So this KPI is a very strong indicator of effectiveness and efficiency of an education system or organization.

Course satisfaction-

Course satisfaction is used to indicate how satisfied students are with the education are services provided, given their expectations and experience of their course. This indicator is derived from the results of the course experience questionnaire which is conducted annually by the university. Again the concept is the same when university includes new courses in its curriculum it should keep this factor in mind because the course is of no worth if people are not willing to join it same is for a running course. if students are not satisfied with it then there is no meaning of keeping that course in your curriculum so quality of a course along with course material and teaching should always be kept high which ensures satisfaction of the students. Hence this factor or course satisfaction is also a very strong indicator of the quality of an educational system or organization and should always be kept in mind.

Quality of teaching-

Quality of teaching is defined as the mean of responses to few factors being the teaching staff of this course motivated me to do my best work. The staff put a lot of time into commenting on my work .The staff made a real effort to understand difficulties I might be having with my work .The teaching staff normally gave me helpful feedback on how I was going. My lectures were extremely good at explaining things. The teaching staff worked hard to make their subjects interesting. These factors clearly show that quality of teaching also plays a very vital role in deciding the quality of an educational institution.

Research funding-

Research funding obtained during a prescribed year in terms of DEST categories is a measure of university's research activity. It should be acknowledged that levels of research funding could be strongly influenced by the receipt of large competitive research council grants. The relatively small numbers of such grants may limit the capacity of the institution to maintain performance at high level. This is a lagging indicator reflecting the time in its publication by commonwealth dept. of education science and training. Good quality research always brings college to a higher level and ensures its growth and prosperity. Good students who become laureates in future are the real ambassadors of an institution.

So quality of research work at an educational institution is also a very important KPI.

Assessment of weaknesses of KPI

Retention rate -

For certain industries the retention rate is inherently low. In those cases it is difficult to judge an organization's performance based solely on retention rate. For example, in the BPO industry the retention rate of all the companies operating are very low and there is a lot of attrition. So in this case the playing field for every organization is leveled. Thus retention rate here does not prove to be such a good performance indicator. It is particularly useful in judging only when the retention rate of other companies in a sector is high and of our company is low. Then we can judge that there is certain problem with our employee program. But in cases as described above, retention rate may not be that useful. Retention rate if below 70 percent, it is harmful for the company in general. Thus if our retention rate is below 70 percent, we must start checking our system and start looking for where are we making mistakes. The effectiveness of the retention rate parameter varies from industry to industry and thus has to be measured accordingly.

Course satisfaction-

Course Satisfaction is also a major parameter for measuring a university's organizational behavior. But it too has certain weaknesses. Many a times students in particular are not honest in judging what course satisfaction means for them. For every student course satisfaction has a different meaning. For some, learning new concepts or ideas, course is useful. For some the course should be practical, for some it should be theoretical, while some of the students are looking only for a good grade. If the course instructor gives them a good grade, they are satisfied with the course otherwise not. So we can say that course satisfaction has a different meaning for every individual and thus it becomes very difficult for the KPI to include everybody's honest opinion. So solely relying on this key performance indicator may not be very useful and the data collected from this indicator could be vague. In a homogeneous organization, this indicator will work efficiently. But in a heterogeneous organization, there needs to some more indicators because course satisfaction is based on perception which varies from person to person. Course satisfaction in other cases is a useful parameter and shows us the reaction of clients towards the organization which is very important.

Value of teaching-

Value of teaching may be termed as the indicator of responses to certain factors. As is the case with course satisfaction, quality of teaching is also based on perception. And as we know perception varies from person to person. In an organization, same instructor or leader may be judged differently by two people. One may find his/her method of teaching very intriguing and useful. But the other one may find it vague. So we may never know for sure about the quality of teaching. So solely relying on this key performance indicator may not be very useful and the data collected from this indicator could be vague. In a homogeneous organization, this indicator will work efficiently. But in a heterogeneous organization, there needs to some more indicators. There may be cases when a certain sector of the organization is biased towards the teacher or the course content and thus may not provide the correct or required assessment. It becomes very difficult for the KPI to include everybody's honest opinion. So it becomes very important to closely look at the findings and break them in different parts to get a clear picture of the results.

Research funding-

Research done by any organization is in some sense a measure of university's research activity. As we know there is a lot of research grant in any university, so it becomes very critical that the research grant is put into goo use. There will be no benefit from a very large research grant if it is not used it a judicial manner. A university may receive a large grant but does not give enough results with it, whereas on the other hand, another university with smaller grant gives more and better results. So it is also important to look at what is being done with the research grant. So this is the weakness with the research grant key performance indicator. One should not only focus on how much the research grant is, but also how that research grant is being used.

Current use of the measure and ways of improving it

At the end of any year universities sit together to form a new plan for next year and so on. Also a number of effectiveness and efficiency indicators are needed to find any organization's performance in a year. The worth of any organization is known by the quality of its teaching, its values, the retention rates and the research that organization is pursuing. Here we chose these Key performance indicators to analyze:

Enhanced Teaching, learning and research

Retention rate

Research funding

Quality of teaching

Course satisfaction

Currently most of these indicators are used to find out the performance of organizations. The retention rate means that how many clients stay throughout the year. Any organization with a good retention rate is likely to be a better one because it gives employees and clients satisfaction. But any company cannot be solely judged on the basis of retention rate. There are many other factors which play an important role. To improve the retention rate indicator, one must also include the overall retention rate of the sector the company is in and then look accordingly. The results need to be cross-checked with the competition and if there is a huge change in the retention rate of two organizations, measures need to be taken.

Course satisfaction is also an important indicator. As this is based on a questionnaire, it has to have well researched and thorough questions. There should also be a few descriptive questions, so as the feedback could be more serious rather than all yes/no type questions. Also we must make sure that the students or clients know the importance of this questionnaire. A lot can be learnt from the feedback. So it is utmost necessary that the feedback should be given with honestly and seriousness. Also this parameter cannot solely judge organizational behavior as it is based on perception which varies from person to person.

As is the case with course satisfaction, quality of teaching is also based on perception. So for this indicator too, other indicators should be clubbed with it so that we get a useful result. Quality of teaching is not only the responsibility of the teacher, but also of the student. The seriousness of a student determines the seriousness of the teacher and vice-versa. So this factor should also be kept in mind while measuring the organization behavior.

Thus we can conclude that organization performance can be measured with the help of Key performance indicators. But one has to choose these key performance indicators very carefully as a lot depend on these indicators. After all they only provide us with data to work upon. After we get the results from our indicators, it is very necessary to analyze that data properly and then act on it. If we continue to work on the feedback of our clients, we can make a sustainable and great organization. (Key performance indicator examples)

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