A taxonomy of institutional effectiveness literature for public higher education, colleges, and universities

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this study was to produce a taxonomy of institutional effectiveness literature for public colleges and universities. The study was a theoretical and comprehensive analysis of the extant literature on institutional effectiveness from 1970 to the present. Conceptually, the study was an exploratory examination of the literature. It provides a framework for refining future institutional effectiveness research investigations, educational evaluation studies, or other assessment activities for colleges and universities.

The study contained no a priori hypothesis or research questions in the traditional sense. The following objectives guided the study:

  1. To determine characteristics of institutional effectiveness studies.

  2. To determine institutional effectiveness measures applied as criteria for evaluation.

  3. To determine if the measures reported as similar in the literature are the same upon assignment to the taxonomy.

  4. To determine what independent variables are identified in the literature on institutional effectiveness.

  5. To identify the various definitions of institutional effectiveness terms presented in the literature.

  6. To determine the extent various literature addresses similar issues.

  7. To determine if elements of effectiveness characteristics have been omitted or overlooked in the literature.

  8. To detect and report trends, similarities, and conflicts existing in the literature.

The literature items for the study were identified through queries into printed or computerized indexes. Published literature not indexed was also identified to the extent possible and was included in the study. Books, articles, monographs, or essays written on institutional effectiveness issues make up the study population.

Five-hundred-thirty-one separate literature items were identified for the period. Journal articles, ERIC documents, and books were reviewed, separated into distinct classes and a taxonomy developed. Each literature item was assigned to a specific taxonomy classification by major subject content and by dimension. The literature items were also identified as to literature form, i.e., study, narrative, or opinion items. Further, a computerized database was created containing the literature items. The database was separated into three distinct files, one file for higher education, literature, one file for four-year college/university literature, and one file for community, junior, and technical college literature.

Within the data files each item was numbered and coded by its taxonomy classification number and dimension. The items in each data file also contain a document identification number, author, title, publication date, abstract, and other relevant data.