What are Core Themes, Objectives, and Indicators?

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) accreditation standards require institutions to establish accreditation core themes, objectives, and indicators.

Core themes are intended to "individually manifest essential elements of (the) mission and collectively encompass (the) mission." For each core theme, institutions are required to establish objectives and identify "meaningful, assessable, and verifiable indicators of achievement" to evaluate the accomplishment of the core theme objectives. (Standard 1)

Institutions must plan for the accomplishment of their core theme objectives, engage in ongoing and systematic collection and analysis of data, and use that data to evaluate accomplishments. Results of core theme assessments should be used to make improvements, inform planning, and determine resource allocation. The regular analysis of core theme objectives must be used to ensure the institution's ongoing adaptation and sustainability. (Standards 3-5)


Development of Core Theme Indicators (2008-2010)

In 2009, at the start of the 2010 Accreditation Pilot, UAA established an initial set of core themes, objectives, outcomes, and indicators. The core themes are aligned with our UAA 2017 Strategic Plan Priorities: Teaching and Learning; Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity; Student Success; the UAA Community; and the Public Square. The 2010 documents archive contains each of the reports UAA submitted during the pilot, including the core themes, objectives, outcomes, and indicators.

Since that time, the university has undertaken several rounds of refinment to focus the core theme objectives, outcomes, and indicators. This refinement has occured to address accreditation recommendations, and to ensure the indicators are managable and capable of guiding institutional planning, assessment, and resource allocation. The Spring 2009 report presented 17 goals (which would become objectives), 45 outcomes, and 160 indicators. At the close of the 2010 Pilot, this list had been refined to 6 objectives, 17 outcomes, and 44 indicators.


Current Core Theme Indicators

In April 2012, the Chancellor's Cabinet approved a refined set of core theme indicators in response to an NWCCU recommendation that we refine our indicators and identify indicators of achievement that are meaningful, direct measure of the objectives. The newly approved list of core theme indicators includes five core themes, seven objectives (consolidating past objectives and outcomes into one category), and 22 indicators. This refined list includes objectives and indicators at the institutional level which are most central to informing the management and improvement of the institution as a whole.

To see a memo describing the process that was used to refine the indicators, click here. View or download the table of the current core theme objectives and indicators here.