Glossary of Terms and Definitions


The following terms and definitions are used within the reports and documents at Southwestern related to assessment and data.


Academic Program:  Instructional programs encompass all educational offerings including credentials, certificates (pathways, short-term and one-year) and two-year degrees with a breakdown by course of study and/or discipline. A systemic, usually sequential, grouping of courses forming a considerable part, or all, of the requirements for a degree or a credential. May refer to the total educational offering of an institution.

Accreditation: The process by which a private, non-governmental body evaluates an educational institution or program of study and formally recognizes it as having met certain predetermined criteria or standards. The process involves initial and periodic self-study and evaluation by peers. Accreditation implies stimulation toward quality improvement beyond the minimum standards specified by the accrediting body. The essential purpose of the accreditation process is to provide a professional judgment as to the quality of the educational institution or program offered and to encourage continual improvement thereof. (

Southwestern is regionally accredited by Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Program and special accreditation agencies also exist (Culinary, Early Childhood Education, EMT to name a few).

Activity (Reimbursement) Code – Course Type: Specified coding for Oregon community college courses to identify types of courses by the learning activity.

100 = Lower Division Transfer

210 = Career & Technical Preparation

211 = Career & Technical Standalone

220 = Career & Technical Supplemental (designed for workforce additional training)

230 = Apprenticeship

310 = ESL – English as a Second Language

320 = ABE – Adult Basic Education

330 = GED – General Education Diploma

340 = Credit Recovery for high school

350 = Postsecondary (developmental/remedial) Writing and Reading

351 = Postsecondary (developmental/remedial) Math

352 = Postsecondary (developmental/remedial) Elective/Other

360 = ACE – Adult Continuing Education Unknown type

361 = ACE – Adult Continuing Education Health & Fitness

362 = ACE – Adult Continuing Education Safety

363 = ACE – Adult Continuing Education Workforce

510 = Non reimbursable Other

511 = Non reimbursable Hobby & Recreation

512 = Non reimbursable Administrative/Operational


Analysis of Results:  A review of data that considers changes in data over time, internal and external trends, and reviews multiple categories of data and as well as subcategories.  Example:  Student Headcount – review includes gender, race/ethnicity, enrollment status (full-time, part-time), admission status, financial aid students, athletic students, etc.  The analysis provides information to make decisions, plan and budget for programs and services at the college. 


Assessment:  The process for gathering evidence of student learning, discovering the degree to which courses, programs and administrative and educational support services accomplish intended outcomes, and probing the achievement of institutional goals and mission.

Assessment Method: Essentially two types of assessment – 1) Direct methods of assessment require students to produce work so that reviewers can assess how well students meet expectations and 2) Indirect methods of assessment provide opportunities for students to reflect on their learning experiences and inform the reviewers their perceptions of their learning experience (Palomba & Banta, 1999).

Embedded Assessment:  Refers to assessment that is included as part of the regular instruction or service. For example, specific questions can be embedded in numerous classes via quizzes, tests, and homework to provide summative and formative evaluation of departmental, program, or institutional outcomes. Embedded assessment is more easily obtained as it uses current assignments/tests for the assessment purposes and does not require much additional or extra work from the instructor.

Formative Assessment: Observations which allow one to determine the degree to which students know or are able to do a given learning task, and which identifies the part of the task that the student does not know or is unable to do. Outcomes suggest future steps for teaching and learning. This type of assessment is descriptive, focusing on the process.

Performancebased Assessment: Applies with items or tasks that require students to apply knowledge, skills, and abilities in realworld situations. Similar to direct assessment, performancebased assessment illustrates skills of students through direct measurements of their behaviors on an instrument or assignment. Performancebased assessment might be a part of a formative assessment process, as an instructor might elect to grade a student’s performance to determine a student’s improvement in a skill (the purpose of formative assessment). An instructor might also use a performancebased assessment as one aspect of the student’s skill set in a cumulative assessment of grades, performance, etc. (summative assessment). Performancebased assessment is an example of authentic assessment because instead of using a standardized test to measure a skill, the student is required to illustrate his/her knowledge. Finally, performancebased assessment is contrasted to indirect assessment because indirect assessments ask students to reflect upon the learning process rather than to demonstrate).

Summative Assessment: Evaluation at the conclusion of a unit of instruction, used to determine or judge student skills and knowledge or the effectiveness of a plan or activity. Outcomes are the culmination of a teaching/learning process for a unit, subject, or year’s study


Billing Credits: Enrollment times tuition hours (tuition hours used to bill students for tuition and the per credit fee).


Budgeting: The process of developing a planned level of projected revenues and expenditures based on current service levels, planned projects and other identified needs.


CAAP: Collegiate Assessment of Academic Performance (CAAP). A nationally normed, standardized, academic test designed to measure general-education foundational skills that are typically attained in the first two years of college.  The CAAP test scores provide one way to estimate the level of educational development.

CAT: Conversations About Teaching (CAT) -  Definition in development Visit: for more information.


CCSSE: Community College Survey of Student Engagement – a national survey administered every three years


Certificates: one-year certificates approved by the State

Cohort:   A group of students whose progress is measured at different points in time. Refers to a specialized group of students who share a common element or characteristic. Examples include first-time full-time freshman, students who begin the same program of study at the same time. Cohorts are often tracked over long periods of time (e.g., via longitudinal studies).


Completers:   Students completing a course, credential, certificate or graduate from the college


Core Theme:  Collectively, the core themes represent the institution’s interpretation of its mission and translation of that interpretation into practice.  As defined by NWCCU, a core theme is a manifestation of a fundamental aspect of institutional mission with overarching objectives that guide planning for contributing programs and services, development of capacity, application of resources to accomplish those objectives, and assessment of achievements of those objectives.

Core Values:  The values we hold which form the foundation on which we perform work and conduct ourselves. Core values are not descriptions of the work we do or the strategies we employ to accomplish our mission.  The values underlie our work, how we interact with each other, and which strategies we employ to fulfill our mission.  The core values are the basic elements of how we go about our work.  They are the practices we use every day in everything we do.


Course Completion Rate (%):  The number of students still enrolled in a course at the end of the term divided by the number of students who originally enrolled in a course as of the census date (excludes students who originally audit the course).


Course Completion Pass Rate (%):  The number of students who completed the course and earned passing grades of A, B, C, D, P/S in a course divided by the students who were still enrolled in the course at the end of the term (excludes students who originally audit the course).


Course Division: Identifies the type of course distinguished by Undergraduate - UG (credit course applicable toward a degree or certificate) or Community Education - CE (non credit course).


Course Enrollment:  Refers to the total number of students who have enrolled in a course including total enrollments which refers to the combined total of all course enrollments.  Example:  Student is enrolled in 5 courses = 5 course enrollments.  Counts for students are referenced as student counts, unduplicated headcount or student enrollment.  See Headcount in this document for further clarification.


Course Pass Rate (%): The number of students who earned passing grades of A, B, C, D, P/S in a course divided by the number students who originally enrolled in a course as of the census date (excludes students who originally audit the course).


Credential:   an educational goal below the level of the one-year certificate level (short-term certificate)

Degree Program:  two-year degree programs approved by the State

Transfer Degree Programs: AAOT, AS and ASOT two-year degrees

Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.), Applied Associate of Science (A.A.S.). A lower division undergraduate degree normally representing about two years (60 semester or 90 quarter units) of college study or its equivalent in depth and quality of learning experience. The A.A. degree implies more liberal education orientation, the A.S. degree implies an applied education orientation, and the A.A.S. implies even more emphasis on an applied educational orientation. The AGS – Associate of General Studies is not intended as a transfer degree and represents about two years (60 semester or 90 quarter units) of college study or its equivalent in depth and quality of learning experience.

Discipline:  a branch of learning or scholarly instruction.  (Oxford English Dictionary)  i.e. geology, biology, chemistry, physics and etc.

Division – refers to data report filters:  For data report purposes a division is defined as Undergraduate courses, Community Education courses or course offerings for specialized events such as Educational Talent Search College 101, offerings for joint online with other community colleges and college events.  Limit selections in the data reports to UG – Undergraduate or CE – Community Education.

Division – refers to Dean reporting structure:  Specialized unit within the College. i.e. Allied Health, Math, Science, Health and Physical Education, or Student Support Services

eLearning: eLearning encompasses teaching and learning activities that utilize electronic technologies, especially the internet. eLearning includes online learning, hybrid learning, and use of electronic technologies to supplement face-to-face learning. Most eLearning makes use of the Learning Management System (LMS).  At SWOCC this is known as myLakerLink eLearning.

Enrollment Status:  Determined by the number of credits students enroll in within a term.

            Full-time student: A student taking 12 or more credits is considered full-time; summer term may vary with the status determined by the type of financial assistance received such as federal financial aid or veteran’s benefit.  Excludes audit courses.

            Part-time student: A student taking 11 or fewer credits is considered part-time. Excludes audit courses.

            Three-quarter-time student:  A student taking between 9 and 11 credits.  Excludes audit courses.

            Half-time student:  A student taking between 6 and 8 credits.  Excludes audit courses.

            Non-credit student: A student enrolled in community education courses that carry no credit or a student who is enrolled exclusively to audit the course(s)

Ethnicity (also Race): The United States Federal Government defines a student’s ethnicity as someone who self-identifies themselves as Hispanic or Latino. The United States Federal Government defines a student’s race as someone who self-identifies themselves as American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and or White. For internal reporting SWOCC reports race and ethnicity totals together.

Fill-Rate (%):  The number of students enrolled (course, program, etc) as of the census date divided by the number of available openings

Formative Assessment:   See Assessment


Foundational Requirements: An essential collegiate-level component of associate and baccalaureate degree programs designed to foster effective independent lifelong learning by introducing students to the content and methodology of the major domains of knowledge. (NWCCU) Required for completion of the Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer Degree.

FTE: Full-time equivalent –  State defined as: the enrollment of a student based on 510 clock hours equals 1 FTE and used for funding purposes; IPEDS defined as: total college undergraduate course credits for the year divided by the number of students who enrolled in the courses.  Generally used for vendor and software contracts or other federal reporting and surveys.

State Reimbursable FTE – courses approved for state funding reimbursement and students who qualify for state funding reimbursement (in-state students and border state students, second term out-of-state students).

State Non-reimbursable FTE - course is not approved for state funding reimbursement ((prior learning, contracted out-of-district, most Shutter's Creek, and activity/reimbursement codes of 500 + are not state reimbursable)  or the student clock hours do not qualify for state funding reimbursement (foreign students, students outside of the state other than border states in their first term of enrollment).

Full Time Student: See Enrollment Status

Grade:  Grades are issued to students in courses either as a letter grade or as a satisfactory/unsatisfactory scale.

            Passing Grades:   A, B, C, S, P, IB, IC

            Non Passing Grades:  D, F, U, NP, ID, IF, R and AU (changed to an audit after the census date and responsible for a grade status)

Audit Designations:  X = student originally audited the course prior to the census date – not graded; no credits/hours earned; no credits/hours attempted and not calculated in the GPA.  AU = student changed from a graded option to an audit option - student was enrolled in the course as of the census date and is held accountable for a grade or the status of AU.

Graduation Rate (%):  The number of cohort students who enrolled in and subsequently completed a degree or certificate program divided by the number of students (cohort) who were enrolled as of the census date.


Grant Data Dictionary: Grants received by the college may have specific terms and/or terms that have a slightly different definition as defined by the College.  For specific grant terms, click on the specific grant identified below to access the grant glossary of terms.

            TAACCCT: Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College & Career Training


Headcount: Numerical number of students enrolled in courses at Southwestern


Duplicated Headcount or Course Enrollment: The total number of students enrolled in all courses at Southwestern wherein the count is duplicated for students enrolled in more than one course.

Unduplicated Headcount or Unduplicated Student Enrollment or Student Count: The total number of students enrolled in a course or who have attended Southwestern having been counted only one time in the total figure.

Credit Headcount or Credit Enrollment: Total number of students taking classes where they have the opportunity to earn credit and generally applies toward a degree or certificate.

Non-Credit Headcount: Total number of students taking classes where they do not have the opportunity to earn credit and generally considered a community education course.


Indicator: The particular characteristic, dimension, or element you will be measuring to monitor outcomes or objective attainment. An indicator is a regularly produced measure that described a specified condition or result that the college can gather information on, examine and report on, and use regularly and systematically as a tool for planning, assessment and decision making.

Success Indicator: The indicators identified by the institution to illustrate achievement of the mission.


Institutional Effectiveness:  The process of articulating the mission of the college, setting core themes and objectives, defining how the college and community will know when the objectives are met and using the data from assessment in an on-going cycle of planning and evaluation. (National Alliance of Community and Technical Colleges). It is the ability of the College to match its performance to the purposes established in its mission and vision statements (see Ewell, 1992) and to the needs and expectations of its stakeholders (see Alfred, 2005)


IRB:   Institutional Review Board – contact for more information on the process.  A project is underway to enhance the IRB processes at Southwestern.  For more information related to an IRB check out the government website.


Location:  Southwestern provides data based on location defined as main, curry and online.  The main location refers to the Coos Bay physical campus and other courses offered within the district boundaries in Coos and Douglas counties.  The curry location refers to the Curry physical campus located in Brookings and other courses offered within the district boundaries in Curry County.  The online location refers to courses that are delivered “online” via a learning management system – this is a 100% online course wherein students are not required to physically attend a class at the main or curry locations.


Measure:  Method (direct or indirect – a tool) used to measure whether a desired outcome or objectives has been achieved.


Mission: Southwestern Oregon Community College supports student achievement by providing access to lifelong learning and community engagement in a sustainable manner.

Mission Fulfillment: Southwestern demonstrates achievement of mission fulfillment by successfully meeting the objectives of our core themes. Objective performance is measured by setting annual target thresholds for each core theme indicator of success. Core themes are mapped to individual indicators of success and reviewed each year for applicability, annual target benchmarks, and consideration of new or deletion of a measure.


NWCCU:  Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities –

Objective:  An organizational statement that demonstrates achievement of mission fulfillment.  Answers the question:  “What is expected of the college to meet core theme achievement?”


Expected Learning Outcomes: “Learning Outcomes are statements of the knowledge, skills, and abilities the individual student possesses and can demonstrate upon completion of a learning experience or sequence of learning experiences (e.g., course, program, degree).” (League for Innovation, 2001 at: based on the work of Barr, McCabe, and Sifferlen

Academic Program Outcomes: All identified Student Learning Outcomes specific to the program, a culminating activity, product, or performance that can be measured.   Answers the question, “What will the student be able to DO with what is learned in the program?


Operational Outcome:   A culminating activity, product, or performance that can be measured.  The results or evidence of students’ experiences associated with the services provided by an administrative or educational unit.  Answers the question:  “What will the students GAIN or EXPECT from the experience/service provided?”


Project Outcome: A culminating project of activities, a product, or performance that can be measured.  Answers the question, “What is to be achieved as a result of implementing the project?” 


Student Learning Outcome: A culminating activity, product, or performance that can be measured.  The results or evidence of students’ learning experiences Answers the question, “What will the student be able to DO with what is learned in a course and/or program?


Part-Time Student: See Enrollment Status


Performance after Transfer:  The cumulative GPA achieved by students who originally enrolled at Southwestern during a specified year (cohort) who then transfer to an Oregon public four-year university compared to other students at the same university.


Persistence - Persistence Rate (%): the number of cohort students who enroll for the first time at the beginning of one academic year and who are still enrolled at the of the next term in at least one credit, but who have not yet graduated or completed a degree or certificate or transferred.


Placement Rate (%):  The number of cohort students who obtain employment in a field directly related to that skill within one year of last attendance divided by the number of cohort student who were enrolled as of the census date.

Planning:  The process by which the mission, core themes, and objectives of the college are determined and the means to achieve them are specified. Institutional planning incorporates the institution’s mission and comprehensive self-study with plans that take into account the possible need for modification of core themes, objectives, success indicators, clientele served, programs offered, educational methods employed, and modes of support utilized.

Program Areas:  Comprises a group of courses included with programs of study.  Courses are grouped by degree/certificate areas (AAS Business, AAOT, Pharmacy Tech certificate, etc.), discipline areas (math, science, etc.) and specific learning programs (tutoring, workforce development, etc.).

Program Review: Program review occurs every four years and the end product is a report compilation of  four years’ of data, which illustrates the level achieved by outcome and the effectiveness of the unit/department (program, degree, certificate, or administrative/educational support service provided to students) based on the synthesis and analysis of data showing internal and external trends.

Program review consists of four parts:

1)      A comprehensive review of the unit outcomes;

2)      The synthesis and analysis of the results of each outcome;

3)      Review of the internal and external trends that impact the unit; and

4)      The use of results for each outcome to plan and budget.

Projects:  The planned projects identified by all of the college faculty and staff through the planning process. The things we plan to do; what faculty and staff expect to implement, complete, or achieve in a given year.   Intelligent, innovative strategic projects help us actually achieve identified outcomes and institutional objectives. Based on the data and research, staff analyze, discuss, brainstorm, collaborate, and generate ideas. Then we develop and shape our best creative ideas into exciting and engaging project plans. Results-driven planning and projects designed to enhance student learning and services. 

Project Activities Updates:  The update of what has been accomplished associated with the planned projects to reflect what has been implemented, completed, or achieved during a given year.  Updates may be for the strategic plan, reporting area plans such as ITS, Instructional Services, Student Services, Administrative Services or for a unit (program or department).

Project Plan:  A project is unique in that it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of planned activities designed to accomplish a singular output. A project plan answers the following basic questions:

Project Plan -  Evaluation Plan and Data: Determine how each outcome is measured.  What tool or data set provides insight into the desired outcome?  Choose between quantitative, qualitative or mixed data (both).  What data is available and what additional data needs to be collected (i.e. survey, focus group, interviews).  Work with the data team and IR to develop the evaluation plan and determine what data to collect.


Project Planning:  The process of stating how to complete a project within a given timeframe including identified activities and resources required to complete the project.  The planning process takes into consideration who will do what, when, where, how and why, and at what cost.  The result of planning is a document that can be used to track progress.  A project is unique in that it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of planned activities designed to accomplish a singular output. So a project team often includes people who don’t usually work together – often from different departments, staffing classifications, and across multiple skill levels.


Related Instruction: A recognizable body of instruction in program-related areas of communication, computation, and human relations for applied or specialized associate degree or certificate programs of 30 semester credits or 45 quarter credits in length.

Reporting Area:  Management level reporting areas such as the President, Office of Instruction, Administrative Services, and the like.

Research:  The foundation of all of our work and drives strategic planning and associated projects. Investigate, query, observe, establish facts, and broaden perspectives focused on enhancing student learning and services. Quality research means benchmarking and measuring outcomes. It can fuel great ideas and turn up unforeseen opportunities. It’s simply the right way to begin any project. Without research, all you’ve got is gut feeling. And that, is not very data driven when making decisions.

Reflective Conversations About Teaching: Refer to CAT

Residency Status: Residency status is determined for tuition purposes during the student’s application process or initial enrollment.  The status does not change from initial enrollment.

·         In-District: Student lives within the SWOCC school district of Coos, Curry or Douglas (southwestern) counties


Results:  The culminating information related to a measure associated with an outcome or for yearly reporting. i.e. Data derived from measuring an outcome or objective.


Retention Rate (%): Student cohort enrollment measured as a percentage one year later; measured by the cohort students who enroll in a specified year and term divided by the students who are still enrolled the following year and term.  Example:  Fall 2011 (enrolled) – Fall 2012 (still enrolled) = 250/500 = 50%


SENSE:  Survey of Entering Student Engagement, a national survey


Service Desk: Online system used to request Integrated Technology Services (ITS) support; requires a login and is available on the intranet. All ITS requests for assistance need to be logged.


State Type:  A special course type designated for Oregon community colleges.  Distinguishes the course by type of instruction for specified groups of students such as dual credit, prior learning, etc.  The default is “regular”.


Statistic of Interest:  Results in a statistical figure based on the defined criteria.  Example: The proportion of students who enrolled in and subsequently completed a degree or certificate program.


Strategic Plan: The plans of the college associated with the core theme and objectives, including the annual projects and activities.

Strategic Projects:  Refer to Projects.

Student Learning Outcome: See Outcome


Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI): The Student Satisfaction Inventory is a nationally benchmarked student survey offered through Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL).  One key to student success is to assess student satisfaction.  According to RNL, "Successful campuses continuously strive to improve the quality of the student experience. In order to do that, you need to know where to focus your efforts.  The Student Satisfaction Inventory gives you a powerful tool to improve the quality of student life and learning. It measures student satisfaction and priorities, showing you how satisfied students are as well as what issues are important to them. Use this data to:

·         Guide strategic action planning

·         Strengthen student retention initiatives

·         Meet accreditation requirements

·         Identify areas of strength for institutional marketing

·         Chart your progress toward campus goals"

Student Status (Admission Status): Registration status is determined on a term basis through the student’s application process for all student types except continuing, which all students default to their second consecutive term of attendance.


Subject:  Course coding (1 to 4 characters) that precedes the course number (BA ###)  and represents a discipline area in most cases.  Examples:  BA = Business courses and program courses; ECON = Economics; BI = Biology)


Success Indicator:  See Indicator


Success Rate (student success rate):  Student cohort success measured as a percentage of students retained, still enrolled one year later, at year one (at year two) plus the number of students who were not retained that graduated or transferred within one year (two years); measured by the cohort students who enroll in a specified year and term divided by the students who are still enrolled the following year and term, or graduated and not enrolled, or transferred and not graduated or enrolled.  Example One Year Rate:  Fall 2011 (enrolled) – Fall 2012 (still enrolled, graduated or transferred) = 250/500 = 50%


Summative Assessment:   See Assessment.


Threshold:  Levels established to act as evidence of whether an indicator is achieved. Answers the question: “What is the target expectation level?”  Levels are green, yellow or red and represent a range of achievement based on percentages and figures established for identified performance indicators. Includes: student performance standards - the level(s) of student competence in a content area; an actual measurement of group performance against an established standard at defined points along the path toward reaching the standard. Subsequent measurements of group performance use the target levels to measure progress toward achievement.


Technical Skills Assessment Pass Rates (%):  The number of students who obtain licensure or certification in a career or technical program offering such an option divided the number of student attempts to obtain the licensure or certificate.


Transfer Degree Programs:   See Degree Program

Transfer Rate (%):  The number of cohort student who enroll in another college within one year of leaving the college divided by the number of cohort students who were enrolled as of the census date.


Undergraduate:  A student who is pursuing a degree and/or certificate OR enrolled in course which is applicable toward a degree and/or certificate.  The student is taking the course for credit.


Unduplicated: A student or a course is only counted once during a defined time frame such as a term or year, there is no duplication.


Unit:  generally defined as an academic, operational area (administrative or educational support services).that has a budget unit associated with the area and that reports to a mid-management or upper-management level.  May sometimes be referred to as a department.


Vision: Southwestern’s vision statement:  Southwestern Leads and Inspires Lifelong Learning


Voluntary Framework of Accountability:  

·         What is VFA?The VFA is the principal accountability framework for community colleges with measures defined to encompass the full breadth of the community college mission and the diversity of students' goals and educational experiences.”  “VFA ​is the first-ever national accountability system to measure how 2-year colleges perform in serving their more than 13 million students. The VFA was developed for community colleges, by community colleges with measures that encompass the full breadth of the community college mission and the diversity of students’ goals and educational experiences.” (VFA Website 2017)

Why do we need a VFA? “Existing accountability measures in higher education do not adequately measure the unique mission of community colleges. For example, existing measures may exclude part-time students or non-credit career and technical students who are a key part of community colleges’ mission. In light of the inadequacy of existing measures, the VFA provides community colleges with a significantly improved ability to assess their performance, identify areas for improvement, and demonstrate their commitment to their academic mission.” (VFA Website 2017)

·         Search for VFA Colleges:


For more information visit:





















Southwestern Oregon Community College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, national origin, age, disability status, gender identity, or protected veterans in employment, education, or activities as set forth in compliance with federal and state statutes and regulations.

Last Updated:  4/2/2018         Previous Updates:  11/2/2017; 10/5/2017; 9/19/2017; 7/11/2017; 5/24/2010; 11/17/2009   First Published:  1/5/2009