Ongoing Assessment and Accountability
Ongoing assessment of college health and wellness programs and services through the collection and evaluation of data is essential. Sources of data on the demographics, health, and academic functioning of students on campus can be found in the electronic health record, student surveys, and college databases. The challenge is connecting and analyzing the data to produce meaningful information to help campus health services develop an effective strategic plan to address health issues and improve academic success.
Common assessments include patient/client satisfaction, health service utilization, practitioner productivity, operational efficiency, and outcomes of treatment or interventions. Often the data has external uses for fiscal accountability during campus budgeting processes. Internally, assessments are most useful when information is shared with health services staff and used to improve the quality and/or accessibility of health services for students.
College health services enjoy a unique role in helping students reach their academic goals, while playing an active role in educating students about health issues. The education offered by health services may take place in many settings, including an individual visit, an outreach event, in the classroom, or with an online education tool. Identifying and measuring student learning outcomes (SLOs) has become an important aspect of health services activities around student education. ACHA provides information and example surveys here.
Linking health and wellness services to student success is an important accountability measure and answers the fundamental question of why a college should fund or subsidize these services on campus. Colleges are invested in achieving high graduation rates and sometimes receive funding based on graduation rates. role of health and wellness services in retention of students and their academic success should be measured. Adding questions to post-encounter surveys about health and wellness services’ influence on students’ ability to stay in school and graduate can provide subjective information from students. Aside from asking students through direct surveys if health and wellness services improved their ability to succeed academically or contributed to their ability to stay in school, the contribution of these services to student retention is difficult to measure. Attempts to measure and associate use of counseling or other health services with retention and graduation rates often have difficulties with confounding factors. For example, if a student’s average grades before and after receiving care improve, the measurement may be confounded by other factors such as class load, change of living situation, or change of major. Additionally, most of the measures demonstrate associations, but causation may be debatable. Regardless of the challenges, striving to link academic success with the provision of campus health and wellness services is a worthwhile goal.
Some important sources of data for linking services to student academic success include:
- Health and wellness center intake/electronic health record data
- College data centers or student enrollment/retention statistics
- Individual academic records
- Stratified retention data
- Surveys of parents, students, and faculty
- Student Learning Outcomes measurements