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Academic Innovation & Effectiveness

Academic Innovation & Effectiveness
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Improve Use of Student Learning Measures for Program Improvement

Action Project

Institution: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
Submitted: 2002-05-22

Planned project kickoff date:
Target completion date:
Actual completion date:
A. Give this Action Project a short title in 10 words or fewer:
Improve use of student learning measures for program improvement

B. Describe this Action Project's goal in 100 words or fewer:
Improve measures of student academic achievement using appropriate benchmarks defined by academic units. Use these measures to assist departments, schools, and other academic units in designing and implementing improved processes and practices for academic programs.

¨ Continually evaluate our inventory of existing data used in assessing student learning
¨ Extract meaningful university-wide information from program based assessment and from certification examinations and other capstone assessment tools
¨ Continue identifying appropriate external measures to complement measures developed within the University
¨ Develop systematic reporting mechanism, synthesizing existing sources of information, that provides academic units with information necessary for decision-making and planning

C. Identify the single AQIP Category which the Action Project will most affect or impact:
Primary Category: Helping Students Learn

D. Describe briefly your institution's reasons for taking on this Action Project now -- why the project and its goals are high among your current priorities:
In the mid-1980s to mid-1990's, SIUE developed and implemented an assessment program to provide useful data and information for academic programs regarding student learning. These assessment efforts have focused on each academic program, but now it is time to consider information from the assessment program from a university-wide perspective.

E. List the organizational areas - -institutional departments, programs, divisions, or units -- most affected by or involved in this Action Project:
Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Undergraduate Assessment and Program Review, Graduate School, Office of Institutional Research

F. Name and describe briefly the key organizational process(es) that you expect this Action Project to change or improve:
Graduate and Undergraduate Program Review - a state-mandated system of periodic review of each academic program at the University.

Assessment Activities -Undergraduate assessment is administered by a director in the Provost's office and includes both program based and university wide components. It is governed by the Committee on Assessment, a standing committee of the Curriculum Council of the Faculty Senate. Graduate assessment, which is program based, is administered by the Dean's office of the Graduate School and governed by the Graduate Council.

Curriculum and Course Development and Modification-Governed by the Curriculum and Graduate Councils.

Academic Strategic Planning-Regular planning initiatives conducted by the Faculty Senate, UPBC, and Academic Affairs concerning the future of undergraduate and graduate education

Institutional Planning and Budget Management-Annual and periodic strategic planning by UPBC, the Chancellor's Council, Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Administration, and Development and Public Affairs.

Faculty Development-Responsive to what we have learned about effective teaching and learning strategies.

G. Explain the rationale for the length of time planned for this Action Project (from kickoff to target completion):
We have a number of processes in place that measure, analyze, or report on student learning outcomes:
As a first step in the Assessment Plan (1989), "Objectives for General Education and the Baccalaureate Degree" were developed. The Senior Assignment and the more recent Graduate Assessment programs have caused each program to identify student learning outcomes. Responsibility for measurement of student learning outcomes rests with each program.
New Program Requests required by the Illinois Board of Higher Education include the identification of student learning outcomes and instructional practices in the proposal for a new program.
The program review process has integrated senior assignment and graduate assessment results.
Using student self-assessment of learning from the baccalaureate alumni surveys.
The annual Results Report includes information on student academic achievement.

The Provost's office, the Committee on Assessment, and Institutional Research will design and implement a Handbook on the Teaching and Learning Environment that can be produced and distributed annually and that can organize existing data and include newly developed data to provide an annual overview of student learning. Report could be included as an expansion of the Fact Book.

The Excellence in Undergraduate Education and Excellence in Graduate Education funds reward faculty by supporting innovation, experimentation, and pilot projects in undergraduate and graduate education.

H. Describe how you plan to monitor how successfully your efforts on this Action Project are progressing:
· Developing and refining a "Handbook on the Teaching and Learning Environment" that is produced annually, distributed widely, and used regularly
· Including student learning outcomes in program review findings
· Reviewing student learning outcomes for each program by the Committee on Assessment
· Continuing to identify benchmarks from peer institutions
· Using benchmarks for improvement as reported in program reviews

I. Describe the overall "outcome" measures or indicators that will tell you whether this Action Project has been a success or failure in achieving its goals:
· Pass rates on licensing and certification examinations compared with state or national average
· Trends in baccalaureate alumni survey student learning self-assessment compared with state and peer averages
· Measures extracted from the senior assignment that provide a university wide perspective
· Alumni employment and education status with comparison to state and peer averages

J. Other information (e.g., publicity, sponsor or champion, etc.):
100% of academic programs provide information from their Senior Assignments to be used as internal benchmarks.
25% of all academic programs identify external benchmarks.
"Handbook on the Teaching and Learning Environment" developed.
External benchmarks identified or designed.50% of academic programs identify and compare student learning against external benchmarks.
Handbook on the Teaching and Learning Environment developed and produced annually.100% of academic programs can demonstrate improvements made based on what was learned in the Senior Assignment.
75% of academic programs identify and compare student learning against external benchmarks.
Handbook on the Teaching and Learning Environment distributed widely and used regularly.

Last Action Project Update: 2004-09-14
A. Describe the past year's accomplishments and the current status of this Action Project.
SIUE used NSSE data in a focused study to examine the effectiveness of pilot freshman seminar courses to meet the defined course objectives. The focused study compared responses from freshmen who enrolled in one of the pilot freshman seminar classes with those freshmen who did not take one of the courses. Results of the data analysis provided supporting evidence for a recommendation from a Curriculum Council review committee that the Faculty Senate accept and approve a freshman seminar requirement. Based in part on NSSE data analysis, the review committee also recommended that a freshman seminar requirement be included in upcoming general education reform.

An electronic portfolio that was completed during earlier years of this project was presented at the AAHE assessment conference.

While final work on a Handbook of Student Learning (HSL) is still waiting on completion of the Objectives Project (general education reform), a series of reports have been piloted to be included in HSL. Also, the Fact Book, which is published annually, was modified to serve some of the functions anticipated for the HSL. Continuing work on developing a Handbook of Student Learning is expected to be included in a new Action Project that focuses on more active use of NSSE to guide program improvement.

In response to one of the recommendations from the Objectives Steering Committee Report, a team was sent to AAC&U's General Education Institute in June 2004 to begin planning for general education reform. The Faculty Senate Executive Committee has begun reviewing the reform plan with the expected start date for the reform design phase January 2005, with the design completed and voted on by the faculty during fall 2005, and with an implementation plan complete by December 2005. According to the preliminary plan developed in the General Education Institute, implementation of general education reform will begin Spring 2005. The completion date for implementation will be included in the implementation plan and will depend on the extent of curricular change that will be included in the reform. It is expected that a second new action project will concern general education reform, although the nature of new action projects is yet to be determined. SIUE is participating in the October 2004 Strategy Forum.
B. Describe how the institution involved people in work on this Action Project.
Involvement in this action project shifted during the last year from the Task Force on Measures of Student Learning to the Objectives Project as described in last year's annual report. The Objectives Steering Committee completed its report in December 2003 and submitted it to the Faculty Senate for review and action. The Curriculum Council of the Faculty Senate reviewed the report and is sending policy change recommendations to the Faculty Senate for implementation of the report's findings. Approximately 40% of the faculty participated in the Objectives Project during the last year.

As mentioned above in Question A, SIUE sent a team to AAC&U's General Education Institute in June 2004. The team prepared a plan for engaging the faculty in consideration of general education reform. That plan is being considered by the Faculty Senate. The GE Institute team has begun meetings with departments to prepare for general education reform and has briefed the new chancellor regarding the Objectives Project.
C. Describe your planned next steps for this Action Project.
This action project, as it currently exists, is being retired. Two new action projects are being considered that grow out of this project. The first project would use NSSE data for driving improvement by focusing on four or five questions as benchmarks and work to improve responses to those questions. For example, 70% of SIUE seniors respond that they have a culminating senior experience, but the Senior Assignment is a graduation requirement. The score on that question should be close to 100%. The action project would take this question and a handful of others and work to improve the scores. The second project would support the upcoming general education reform.
D. Describe any "effective practice(s)" that resulted from your work on this Action Project.
During 2003-04, the Faculty Senate was considering a proposal for a required Freshman Seminar. The proposal had come out of a second AQIP action project on new student transition. SIUE had piloted several versions of freshman seminars and used NSSE data to examine the effectiveness of the piloted classes. In Spring Semester 2003, SIUE requested an oversample that included all freshman who had taken UNIV 112, CIV 115, DS 120 (now HONS 120), and any academic development course. Institutional Research prepared a report that provided comparative data on the results for students who had taken the different options that had been oversampled and students in the national sample who were not in any of the special courses. A study committee sponsored by the Curriculum Council of the Faculty Senate analyzed the comparative data to determine if the courses that were serving as pilots for freshman seminars were meeting the objectives stated in the Freshman Seminar Proposal. Based on the NSSE comparative data, focus groups, surveys, and literature review, the study committee made a recommendation to adopt a freshman seminar requirement for all new freshmen.
E. What challenges, if any, are you still facing in regards to this Action Project?
This action project is being retired. The challenge for any following action project in support of the Objectives Project and general education reform is to keep faculty involved and engaged in the process and to keep momentum at the same time.
F. If you would like to discuss the possibility of AQIP providing you help to stimulate progress on this action project, explain your need(s) here and tell us who to contact and when?

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