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1P1. How do you determine which common or shared objectives for learning and development you should hold for all students pursuing degrees at a particular level? Whom do you involve in setting these objectives?
1P1 General Education Objectives
The General Education tasks common to all Upper Iowa University associate’s and baccalaureate degree programs are established by the faculty. An AQIP Team operating between 2005 and 2008, and including representative faculty from each Academic Division as well as from Academic Extension, identified eight Task areas (natural sciences, history, arts and humanities, mathematics, information systems and technology, behavioral sciences, communication, cultural awareness and sensitivity) linked to the University Mission. Further, it identified, within the context of these areas, a variety of specific tasks students would learn successfully to perform as they worked through the common General Education. During this process, a new core component in History was added to the undergraduate General Education requirements. A report documenting the process and procedures for general education assessment (see General Education Assessment Report) was reviewed and approved at the April 18, 2007, Faculty Meeting.
1P2. How do you determine your specific program learning objectives? Whom do you involve in setting these objectives?
1P2 Program and Major Objectives
Specific program learning objectives are determined by the faculty responsible for the delivery of those programs. Industry needs and graduate success are both formally monitored through systematic surveying through the assessment office, and similar or competitive programs at peer institutions are monitored. In many cases formal agreements are reached with community colleges which feed their graduates into certain Upper Iowa University programs. The faculty in each major is responsible for formal assessment of program curricula once every four years and for justifying any resulting recommendation for program modification or shifting resource needs. These formal assessments are monitored and approved by the Academic Divisions. Program objectives can get re-evaluated when new faculty in a discipline are hired, commonly resulting in new or revised courses or programs.
1P3. How do you design new programs and courses that facilitate student learning and are competitive with those offered by other organizations?
1P3 New Programs and Courses
Since its admission into AQIP, Upper Iowa University has developed a systematic process for new program development. A new program proposal is prepared by faculty within the academic division expecting to offer the program. The proposal is justified through a combination of market research, peer institution review, regional needs assessment, professional organization curriculum guidelines, and existing on-campus synergies. It includes new course syllabi, goals and outcomes, an assessment plan, enrollment projections, and resource needs estimates. When Division approval of the program is secured, the proposal is taken either to the University’s Curriculum Committee (for undergraduate proposals) or to the Graduate Curriculum Committee (for graduate proposals); each of these bodies includes representatives from the faculty in each division in the Residential University (RU), Academic Extension (AE) and International Programs (IP) as well as from the academic assessment and registrar’s offices. The appropriate body reviews the proposal for academic merit and clear learning objectives, and it may either return the proposal to the originating division for further work or approve it and send it on to the Administrative Academic Review Team (AART). This last team includes the University president and the chief academic officer, who insure that the proposal fits with the University’s vision and that it can be supported by the University’s infrastructure, physical facilities, and financial resources. When AART approval is secured, resources are dedicated to initiate the program. A proposal for a new course follows essentially the same pathway (see Figure 1.1).
The process has thus far been used in the successful development of undergraduate majors in forensic science and in information technology (see Approved Information Technology Major Proposal). It also has been used in the successful development of the graduate Master’s of Higher Education Administration program. Potential majors in political science and history are currently in incubation.
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Figure 1.1 Process for new programs and courses at Upper Iowa University
1P4. How do you design responsive academic programming that balances and integrates learning goals, students’ career needs, and the realities of the employment market?
1P4 Integrating Goals with Student and Employer Needs
The office of academic assessment surveys alumni one and three years after graduation, and their employers. Data provided by these surveys are shared with the divisions and become a part of each major’s quadrennial self-assessment where they provide evidence either of program success or of program needs. Advisory committees at each AE Center meet regularly to provide information regarding employers’ needs in the particular community and suggest how Upper Iowa University might help meet those needs. The vetting process applied to new course or program proposals (see IP3) helps ensure that all such programs either anticipate or respond to actual marketplace and stakeholder needs.
1P5. How do you determine the preparation required of students for the specific curricula, programs, courses, and learning they will pursue?
1P5 Determining Student Preparation for Programs
All entering students must meet the criteria for admission approved by the Board of Trustees for the particular programs. An entering RU freshman must present an official transcript indicating high school graduation, a minimum 2.00 (4.00 scale) high school grade point average, and an overall ACT score of at least 16 (or SAT equivalent). A student who meets only one of the latter two criteria may apply to a faculty review committee for a waiver. An entering transfer student must present an official transcript showing that he left a previous accredited institution of higher learning in good academic standing and a high school transcript showing a graduation date. An entering graduate student must present an official transcript showing successful completion of a bachelor’s degree at an accredited institution; additionally, the prospective student must show evidence of completion of any specific requirements identified in the particular graduate degree program. An entering international student must follow the basic admissions criteria outlined above (except the ACT/SAT results); furthermore, international students must meet minimum English proficiency and financial support standards in order to qualify for U. S. Immigration documents.
As part of the initial registration process, each undergraduate student on the Fayette campus is tested using ACCUPLACER for English and mathematics proficiency; students know immediately whether they should be in one or more foundations courses, or perhaps in an advanced placement, and are advised accordingly. A student may receive elective credit, but not General Education or major credit, for up to two foundations courses taken at the University.
A student who does not speak English as a primary language must also meet English language proficiency requirements either by providing documentation of minimum TOEFL or equivalent score (see Language Proficiency Requirements) or by enrolling in the ESL program.
Adult students entering AE must present evidence of high school graduation or GED equivalence and official transcripts from all previous institutions. Active duty military members, reservists and veterans submit relevant documentation of military training and education.
International students enrolling in programs offered at the various Upper Iowa University international center locations must provide academic credentials verifying completion of secondary education in their home country or equivalent; advance level (‘A’ level) examination results or equivalent; an official transcript from each institution where post-secondary credit was earned; and verification of English language proficiency.
Once admitted, a student is assigned an academic advisor who will help to ensure that courses are taken in sequence, that basic skills are learned and exercised, and that the curriculum chosen is appropriate to the student’s background and aspirations. Grades are monitored in the registrar’s office and progress is communicated to both the student and the advisor so that, when necessary, timely remediation may be sought.
Student evaluations completed at the end of each course (and, in AE, mid-course) provide instructors with feedback regarding overall student satisfaction with preparation expectations.
Students may apply for experiential learning credit. Upper Iowa University follows the Council on Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) standards in assessing experiential learning portfolios.
1P6. How do you communicate to current and prospective students the required preparation and learning and development objectives for specific programs, courses, and degrees or credentials? How do admissions, student support, and registration services aid in this process?
1P6 Communication of Preparation Requirements and Learning Objectives
In all segments of the university, required preparation and learning objectives are communicated to current and prospective students formally through the University catalog, the academic advising system, and the literature developed through collaboration among enrollment management, marketing and communication, and the faculty. Prospective students are also given information about financing education, including information about federal Pell grants, Iowa tuition grants, and Stafford Loans.
At the Fayette campus, prospective students are encouraged to visit and meet with faculty in the programs they are planning to enter into. After students have submitted a deposit, they are scheduled for an OAR (Orientation, Advising, and Registration) Day. During the OAR program, students and families are given an orientation to UIU, and they meet with an academic advisor to choose classes for the next semester. Throughout this process, students and families are informed of what will be expected of the students while they are enrolled. For example, one session during the OAR day involves a faculty member discussing student expectations with new students and their parents. Faculty members carry out advising activities one-on-one with new students during the OAR day, and they provide information as to faculty expectations and how to achieve success in collegiate study.
All freshmen at the Fayette campus are required to take a wellness strategies class, which is designed to acquaint them with requirements and various services on campus. One session of this course involves a panel discussion, where a faculty member from each academic division discusses general class expectations with students and provides them with class preparation tips.
For AE learners, advising staff and full time faculty conduct evening or individual orientation sessions. When a student decides on a major, the student is given a copy of the goals for that major; this document identifies the learning outcomes and courses that are part of the program, and includes information on disability services, a brochure on career and educational planning solutions, general education outcomes, and the degree plan for the major.
In the International Programs, student orientation involves a discussion of the first-year International Collegiate Education Program (ICEP) General Education classes. Students receive pre-arrival emails with information on ICEP required courses and credential evaluation of transfer credits.
At any time, students can access the appropriate University catalog to obtain information about specific programs and courses of interest to them, including prerequisites for specific programs or courses and degree requirements. In addition, course syllabi are given to students at the beginning of each course in which they are enrolled; syllabi contain specific information on course content, prerequisites, General Education tasks (if applicable), major program outcomes, specific course learning objectives, and instructor expectations for the course.
1P7. How do you help students select programs of study that match their needs, interests, and abilities?
1P7 Assisting Students in Program Selection
Throughout the university, students are required to meet with an academic advisor each term; this meeting helps to assess whether the major is consistent with the student’s interests, goals, and abilities. All advisors have an Advisor’s Handbook that assists in providing consistent and quality advising. UIU enrolls a significant number of “undecided” students. As a result, the advising system has developed strength in helping students find their area of study by examining with them their specific interests.
At the Fayette campus, freshman students in the wellness strategies course take interest/aptitude tests and engage in aptitude/interest activities such as StrengthsQuest and FOCUS. The wellness strategies class also has a career component that includes a “What Can I do With This Major?” segment. These are also available online.
In International Programs, the first year of study involves completing the ICEP certificate courses. In ICEP, students learn about undergraduate programs and majors which will aid them in selecting programs that fit their career goals, aptitudes, and abilities.
1P8. How do you deal with students who are underprepared for the academic programs and courses you offer?
1P8 Assisting Underprepared Students
Across the university, foundations courses are available for students who are underprepared. These courses are designed to help students bring their skills up to acceptable levels.
For more traditional students, placement decisions are made based on assessment tests, such as the ACCUPLACER (see 1P5). In addition to ACCUPLACER, academic support services include the Tutor Center and Writing Lab, a calculator check-out, and a website with information regarding the services, appointment scheduling, hand-outs and links to useful sites for writers. PAL (Peer Assisted Learning) pays students to serve as mentors in classes in which they have excelled. These mentors model successful classroom behavior, and conduct study sessions with peers who desire assistance with appropriate study strategies.
An internally developed math placement assessment is used to determine adult student learners’ needs for foundational math classes. Also, students in the AE and IP have access to SmartThinking.com as an online tutoring service, which after the initial evaluation may be adopted in all UIU locations (see 1P15). Additionally, international students for whom English is not the primary language may choose to enroll in a one-year intensive English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Students first are tested to determine placement, and then the student must satisfactorily complete coursework series in order to matriculate into undergraduate-level programs within the University.
1P9. How do you detect and address differences in students’ learning styles?
1P9 Addressing Differences in Learning Styles
A primary way that Upper Iowa University addresses differences in students' learning styles is by having multiple modalities available for course delivery. Students can choose the delivery modality that best meets learning style needs from several options: traditional (face-to-face), online, independent study, or a hybrid course format.
Across the university faculty are encouraged to include a variety of activities into their courses so that various learning styles are accommodated. While most learners have a preferred learning style, with some being more visual and others being more verbal in their preference, most college students are multi-dimensional. Someone who can learn in only one dimension is typically considered to have a learning disability. Students with any type of disability, including a learning disability, are required to submit documentation of that disability. Across the University, students with learning disabilities are accommodated in a variety of ways, including reading tests to students, providing extra time for students to complete tests, or offering students special assistance such as books on tapes.
1P10. How do you address the special needs of student subgroups (e.g., handicapped students, seniors, commuters)?
1P10 Addressing Special Needs
Upper Iowa strives to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. At the Fayette campus, students with learning disabilities file documentation with the Office of Student Development Counseling Center. In the AE, documentation is submitted to the disabilities compliance coordinator. Within legal parameters, every effort is made to follow the recommended adjustments of diagnosing physicians and clinicians.
As new buildings are built or leased throughout the University, they are made handicap-accessible; classroom space, hallways, entryways, and facilities are being designed and built to accommodate handicapped students and staff. Older buildings have been modified for accessibility as well.
For students who are unable to attend classes due to weather conditions, or other mitigative factors (e.g. athletic participation), the Tegrity lecture capture system allows them the ability to view lectures from their home on the internet.
1P11. How do you define, document, and communicate across your institution your expectations for effective teaching and learning?
1P11 Defining Expectations for Effective Teaching and Learning
Upper Iowa University provides a number of system tools to communicate its vision of effective teaching and learning across the enterprise. The General Education Assessment Report, developed through AQIP, contains a detailed overview of the General Education philosophy, processes and learning expectations. The report is updated regularly in the assessment office; updates result from recommendations from individual team reports assessing student success in mastering the assigned General Education tasks, and are approved by the faculty.
Faculty teaching is evaluated regularly both by division chairs and by faculty peers. An untenured faculty member on the Fayette campus, whether adjunct or full time, is assessed annually by the division chair according to standards and expectations are communicated clearly in the Faculty Handbook (2008-2009 edition, pp. 83-87); these annual evaluations are signed off on by both the chair and the affected faculty member and become the foundation for a tenure applicant’s portfolio. In Academic Extension, evaluations of adjunct faculty are made by the center coordinator, while evaluation of full time faculty is made by the division chairs. Additionally, a minimum of two peer evaluations is required for the completion of a tenure applicant’s portfolio. Standards for these evaluations are published in the Faculty Handbook (2008-2009 edition, p. 88).
Each course is evaluated by its students according to criteria common across the University. A faculty member is given the complete results of her own student evaluations together with summary information allowing her to compare her scores with those of her division peers as a whole. These evaluations are reviewed by the division chair as part of the annual evaluation for non-tenured faculty, and they are copied to the chief academic officer for his use and the use of the Faculty Personnel Committee. A copy of the evaluation form may be found in the Faculty Handbook (2008-2009 edition, pp. 90-91).
Formal faculty in-services are held each August; best practices are introduced and modeled, and development opportunities are offered. Each Center in AE provides systematic development programs for adjunct faculty; those Centers employing full time faculty utilize this resource in those development programs.
As a component of the quadrennial self-evaluation process, each academic major identifies and continually monitors its goals and outcomes for student learning, and these goals and outcomes are articulated in course syllabi. Major outcomes are approved by the faculty in the academic division in which the major is housed. End-of-course surveys since 2006 affirm that between 95.4 and 98% of students agree that the outcomes taught and tested for in University courses are those identified on the course syllabi. Any new course or new program proposal includes its specific learning outcomes.
1P12. How do you build an effective and efficient course delivery system that addresses both students’ needs and your institution’s requirements?
1P12 Building Effective Course Delivery Systems
Adherence to continuous quality improvement principles in recent years has allowed the University to design a variety of learning spaces as it constructs new facilities both on the Fayette campus and in AE; students and faculty alike have been directly involved in building design on the Fayette campus and in the Cedar Rapids and Rockford Centers.
Faculty determine optimal class sizes in accordance with professional organization recommendations (e.g. M.L.A., A.P.A.), and the registrar caps enrollment accordingly. Exceptions may be made only with instructor permission. Online and independent study options are available to students who encounter schedule conflicts or unavailabilities. Training of all online instructors prior to their first online course offering provides continuity and quality assurance to the online delivery mode. On the Fayette campus, an updated three-year rotation schedule of courses is distributed annually to academic advisors to help reduce class conflicts. Course scheduling in AE is done annually to accommodate the continual influx of transfer students. The limited number of majors offered in these programs facilitates efficient use of facilities and course sequencing. Intake into the graduate, nursing and ESL programs is timed so that an entire cohort completes its required courses in sequence. On the recommendation of the division chair, the chief academic officer may authorize additional sections of a scheduled course if over enrollment is anticipated in Fayette; in AE and IP, such a decision is made by the Center or site coordinator.
Academic advising on the Fayette campus ensures that an undergraduate’s work or athletic schedule, commuting distance or parenting responsibility, is taken into account in determining the student’s course schedule. Typically all AE programs, as well as RU graduate programs, conduct classes primarily in the evenings or on weekends, as students in them are for the most part employed during the day.
1P13. How do you ensure that your programs and courses are up-to-date and effective?
1P13 Ensuring Programs Are Up-to-Date and Effective
Each major is responsible for a complete self-assessment once every four years in fixed rotation, referred to as a quadrennial report. Part of this report (see Quadrennial Report Guide) focuses on comparing the program being assessed to comparable programs at other institutions, which presumably provide a check-and-balance to ensure a program is current and relevant. Recommendations for modification of curriculum structure, course content, or major goals and outcomes are generated through this process and presented to the appropriate academic division. However, faculty may at any time propose curricular modifications to existing programs. Such proposals proceed through the academic division to the Curriculum Committee or the Graduate Curriculum Committee for action.
Faculty is encouraged through a variety of professional development initiatives outlined in the Faculty Handbook to maintain awareness of industry best practices as well as of new developments in the disciplines. A professional development budget line item ensures that full time faculty, who are responsible for program development across the University, have access to professional meetings and conferences. Participation in professional development activities is required for tenure consideration (see Faculty Handbook, 2008-2009 edition, p. 22) and is strongly encouraged among senior faculty. Additionally, faculty members compete for access to a separate summer stipend pool administered through the Faculty Personnel Committee. Last, the University president has established a separate competitive grant program funding faculty efforts to incorporate emerging technologies into the classroom.
1P14. How do you change or discontinue programs and courses?
1P14 Changing or Discontinuing Programs and Courses
In 2003, the faculty proposed a protocol for the discontinuance of a program or major which would include the elimination of a tenured faculty position. The protocol involves review by a subcommittee of the Faculty Welfare Committee; however, this protocol has not been tested.
A faculty member proposing to eliminate a course in a teaching area takes this proposal together with its justification to the academic division for discussion and action. If the division approves removal of the course, the appropriate curriculum committee is notified. Normally such a proposal is made only when faculty members in the affected discipline conclude that the course is outdated and no longer serves the discipline or the students usefully; it is usually accompanied by a proposal for a new, more appropriate course to take its place. The registrar receives notification of course elimination and then revises the appropriate University catalog.
1P15. How do you determine and address the learning support needs (tutoring, advising, placement, library, laboratories, etc.) of your students and faculty in your student learning, development, and assessment processes?
1P15 Addressing Learning Support Needs
The growing student population, as well as the push to become a seamless university, still poses some challenges for the future. In preparation for these issues an AQIP action project (Enhancing Academic Support Systems) has been convened that focuses on student success, and improvements are continually considered and evaluated in light of the needs of the University’s evolving student population. With regards to this, the online tutoring service, SmartThinking.com, has been engaged to help off-campus students develop their writing skills, and a pilot program has been run with the Des Moines Center in which writing students received written feedback from peer tutors on the Fayette campus.
With regard to advising support, attempts are made by the RU coordinator of academic success to pair a new student with a declared major to a faculty advisor who teaches in that major as early as an OAR day, when possible. Students who change majors have the opportunity to keep their original advisor or switch to a new advisor in that major field; however, students can request a change in advisor at any time. In the AE and IP, students may be assigned either an academic advisor or a full time faculty member. Throughout the University, faculty has access to an advising handbook and periodic advising training sessions are held. Advisors assist advisees to register online using myUIU.
With regard to library services, the Library Committee, a standing committee with faculty and student participation, has responsibilities that include library budget allocation, library hours, workspace allocation (and renovation, recently), and investigating new literature search strategies.
With regard to laboratory space, most classrooms in the science building on the Fayette campus are dual-purpose lecture and lab spaces. This allows instructors the flexibility to perform lab demonstrations during lecture periods, as well as to use multimedia tools (e.g., videos, PowerPoint, Internet websites, microscope camera equipment, and overhead Elmo capabilities) in real-time during the lab experiences, when appropriate.
1P16. How do you align your co-curricular development goals with your curricular learning objectives?
1P16 Aligning Curricular and Co-curricular Development Goals
Upper Iowa University’s curricular and co-curricular development goals and objectives are driven by the University Mission and Vision via strategic initiative four in the Strategic Plan. The mission stresses student development “in an environment in which diversity is respected, encouraged and nurtured,” and the vision is of “global citizens… prepared for leadership within society.” To help ensure the alignment of curricular and co-curricular objectives, the Student Development Office is represented on the President’s Cabinet, the AQIP Steering Committee and the Council for Residential Studies as well as on the Student Development Committee. The dean of student development reports directly to the chief academic officer, and the chair of the Athletics Committee holds a permanent seat on the Curriculum Committee. Committee and reporting infrastructure ensures close and continuous communication among academic programs, athletics and student development. Students serve on most standing University committees as well, including the Council for Residential Studies, the Athletics Committee, the Student Development Committee, and the Teacher Education Committee.
Each student club, fraternity, or other organization recognized and supported by the University has a charter or constitution aligning its purpose with the University‘s goals, and a faculty advisor to help it maintain that alignment. Eight of these organizations are classified as social/service, and each of them is responsible for original diversity programming at some time during the academic year. Examples of student organizations’ participation in curricular initiatives include the Science and Environment Club’s annual partnering with an ecology class and local conservation officials to initiate and control prairie burns, and the business fraternity Phi Beta Lambda’s success in regional and national business exercise competitions.
Student Government and the Student Activities Board, along with clubs and organizations, provide a variety of leadership training opportunities and activities overseen by faculty and student development office staff. Three hundred nine students, approximately 38% of residential students, participated in one or more of these activities during the 2008-2009 academic year. The athletics program offers significant leadership training opportunities as well; 331 individual students—approximately 40% of all residential students—were involved in intercollegiate athletics during the 2008-2009 academic year.
Both academic and athletic recruiting have expanded their scopes to ensure that Upper Iowa University remains true to its mission’s commitment to diversity. As a result, the Fayette campus is home to students from fifteen countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas as well as from seventeen states. Department of Education statistics referred to in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Volume 55, Issue 5, Sept. 26, 2008) indicate that Upper Iowa University’s Fayette campus is highly diverse compared to other Iowa colleges and universities. Many of the adult learning centers also are quite diverse.
1P17. How do you determine that students to whom you award degrees and certificates have met your learning and development expectations?
1P17 Awarding of Degrees and Certificates
All students must meet requirements set forth in the Upper Iowa University catalog in order to graduate. Advisors monitor student progress in completing General Education requirements, major requirements, and credit hour requirements, including electives if electives are necessary. The Registrar’s Office ensures that all requirements have been met before the student graduates.
All students across the university have a capstone experience. The type of experience varies according to modality and area of study, but all incorporate a requirement that students have accomplished both general education task competencies (see General Education Assessment Report) and the objectives of their respective majors. At the Fayette campus, some majors require a capstone project in which students demonstrate that they have accomplished both the general education tasks and the major objectives. Other majors require an internship which involves the student working in an occupational setting directly related to the student’s major. For example, many criminology majors serve as interns at a nearby correctional facility. Student intern capstone experiences are assessed in two ways to determine their accomplishment of learning and development expectations. One avenue of assessment is the site evaluation, which is provided by the site supervisor in the field where the student is doing the internship. The evaluation by the site supervisor helps to determine if the student has accomplished the major goals and objectives, particularly in professional programs where major goals and objectives are linked to career competencies. The second avenue of assessment involves an assignment submitted to the faculty member supervising the internship. Both the general education competencies and major objective accomplishments are assessed when the internship assignments are graded.
1P18. How do you design your processes for assessing student learning?
1P18 Designing Processes for Assessing Student Learning
One of Upper Iowa University’s first AQIP projects that addressed Helping Students Learn involved shifting the assessment of student learning of General Education requirements from a teaching based assessment to a learning based assessment (see General Education Assessment Report). Rather than assessing whether General Education skills were being taught, an AQIP team developed a process through which faculty can determine that students have learned to perform the General Education tasks, thus indicating that they have accomplished the General Education objectives. A General Education Assessment Team has been formed, and is early in the process of establishing data collection practices that will demonstrate effectiveness, but early assessment indicates that a learning-based focus is a more effective way of assessing student learning than the previous teaching-based focus.
A learning-based focus is now becoming a part of the culture of Upper Iowa University. One way in which this cultural change is manifest is that majors across the University are beginning to adopt a learning-based task assessment approach evaluating how well students are accomplishing major objectives.