Grand Canyon University (GCU) has always maintained a strong relationship with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). This relationship has proven invaluable over the years, helping GCU uphold our commitment to providing a quality education for both traditional and online students. We believe our university will serve as a model for other academic institutions to develop improved practices through HLC guidance.

Operation Impact is an institution-wide project that reinforces GCU's proactive commitment to utilizing an academic assessment strategy. Through a range of initiatives involving stakeholders from every level of our university, we intend to establish a centralized set of best practices to optimize student learning. We regard this project as the foundation for a true culture of student assessment that helps to raise standards across higher education.

For more information about Operation Impact, our learning systems and important terms throughout this section, please review our glossary.

View Student Assessment Glossary

HLC Accreditation Criteria

Guiding Pillars

  • A process of student assessment is essential to continual improvement and must be deeply embedded in an institution's activities.
  • For student learning, this commitment results in an assessment at the program level, which proceeds through clear goals, involves faculty throughout the process and provides a comprehensive analysis of results.
  • The institution improves its programs, ancillary services and other operations on the basis of its analysis.
  • Assessment and the processes that an institution learns from should be well grounded in evidence.
  • For the quality assurance function of accreditation, evidence is critical.


Our Assessment Story

operation impact quadrantsCurrent State Analysis and Stakeholder Awareness

This project is conducted in four phases over three years through a range of initiatives. The first phase of Operation Impact focuses on identifying the student assessment activities that are currently used across GCU. Sharing these findings simultaneously with all stakeholders increases awareness and encourages the mutual use of data for improvement actions.

Planned initiatives in Phase I include:

  • GCU assessment story
  • Evidence review
  • Gap analysis
  • Executive summary

Collaboration and Training

Enhancing Collaboration and Ownership

The second phase of Operation Impact instills deeper collaboration across the institution. A comprehensive analysis of the awareness that was generated in Phase 1 around our current assessment practices reveals the strengths and opportunities for this initiative. We intend to capitalize on those strengths and fill any gaps. Through a communication plan - established within this phase - our student assessment initiatives and findings are shared across GCU and to its key stakeholders. This effort should reduce any redundancies and reinforce consistency and collaboration.

Phase II involves several activities which include:

  • Workshops and training
  • Website development
  • Communication

Vehicles of Communication

  • University leadership
  • Academic leadership team
  • Academic Affairs Committee
  • Provost Quarterly Assessment Summit
  • University Assessment Committee
  • Operations process meetings
  • All faculty college meetings
  • College Program Standards and Evaluation Committee (PSEC)


Developing Scalable, Consistent and Actionable Processes

Phase III of Operation Impact develops scalable and consistent processes to provide the infrastructure that enables data-driven decision making. GCU captures actionable data on student learning using the most effective internal and external instruments. This type of data supports the comprehensive improvement of student learning and the overall student experience. The evidence gathered in this phase is disseminated across the institution.

Primary tasks of Phase III include:

  • Develop an academic data warehouse
  • Centralize data access
  • Integrate academic analytics into student assessment processes


Optimizing Academic Analytics in Sustainable Assessment Behaviors

The final phase of Operation Impact optimizes our processes and systems through the consistent use of academic analytics. The project establishes a centralized system of accountability to monitor student assessment results and the subsequent actions for improvement. At the conclusion of Operation Impact, the institution has a sustainable model for continuous improvement in place. The goals in Phase IV integrate assessment behaviors that support evidence-based decision making. This positively impacts student learning and the overall student experience.

View Operation Impact Timeline

Metrics for academic assessment and improvement are:

  • Student learning outcomes
  • Student satisfaction and engagement
  • Enrollment and retention
  • Academic metrics and trends
  • Early alerts
  • Early alerts for at-risk students
  • Tutoring
  • Cohorts
  • Program review