Spendolini (1992) defines benchmarking as “continuous systematic process for evaluating products, services, and work processes of organizations that are recognized as representing best practices for the purposes of organizational improvement.” Benchmarks should be determined and voted on by faculty members during their department and assessment meetings. These benchmarks, including the type of benchmark used, should reflect the learning standards for the program.
The function of benchmarking as a department:
The function of benchmarking as an institution:
Considerations to make when benchmarking:
The following short presentation provides an overview of the benchmarking process:
Types of Benchmarks
Local Standards Benchmark: Standards set internally, usually by those faculty teaching the course. These standards should be based on knowledge of the course, program, School, and College goals. A local standards benchmark will typically read:
X% of students will achieve a score of ≥ Y on the rubric.
X% of students will achieve a score of ≥ Y on the exam.
Internal Peer Benchmarks: These are standards that compare scores of peers across programs, Schools, or College.
External Peer Benchmarks: These are standards that compare scores of peers to peers in other institutions of higher education.
External Standards: These are standards established by bodies outside of the program, School, or College. Usually, these are standardized tests created by professional certification and licensure programs.
Best Practice Benchmarks: These standards compare the results of one institution against the results of best peer institutions.
Value-Added Benchmarks: Compares current student performance against her/his performance when s/he began her/his studies.
Historical Trends Benchmarks: Compares current students to peers in prior classes.
The following example is from an assessment report from a first-year writing course that focused on critical thinking:
Spendolini, M. J. (1992). The benchmarking book. New York: Amacom.