Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1
4. The institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence improvement based on analysis of the results in the following area: (Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1)
220.127.116.11 educational programs, to include student learning outcomes
X Compliance ___ Non-Compliance
I. Identification of Expected Outcomes
Consistent with its mission which places emphasis on global awareness and servant leadership, Southern University has identified seven Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs). These ILOs, the institution envisions, will be cultivated during matriculation and made evident in each graduate as they depart to serve. As the institution broadly engages in research, teaching and service, it ensures that it tracks and assesses the degree to which ILOs are achieved. Further, the institution makes the necessary adjustments to its policies, practices, and programs based on relevant data analyses. The ILOs which serve as the impetus for all decision-making are as follows:
- Institutional Learning Outcome 1: (Critical Thinking) Graduates will reason abstractly and think critically and integrate new information with previously acquired information to solve novel complex problems and learn independently.
- Institutional Learning Outcome 2: (Communication Skills) Graduates will communicate effectively using skills that apply to English in general as well as to specific English language modalities at the college level of competence.
- Institutional Learning Outcome 3: (Cultural Literacy) Graduates will demonstrate knowledge of various cultures by studying the past and present through language, literature, cultural artifacts, and social and political systems.
- Institutional Learning Outcome 4: (Mathematical and Science Reasoning) Graduates will apply quantitative and qualitative approaches to mathematical and/or scientific concepts.
- Institutional Learning Outcome 5: (Wellness) Graduates will identify and demonstrate comprehension of human wellness and the importance of physical activities in developing a healthy mind and body.
- Institutional Learning Outcome 6: (Ethical Behavior and Values) Graduates will identify and demonstrate appreciation of ethical issues implicit in their personal behavior and those underlying the operation of social and political systems as well as in the field of research.
- Institutional Learning Outcome 7: (Information Technology Literacy) Graduates will demonstrate information technology skills that enable them to use computers, software applications, databases, and other technologies to achieve a wide variety of academic, work-related, and personal goals.
With its general education curricula, the General Education Program of Excellence (GEPE), the institution creates an academic progression of courses that individually address specific ILOs. GEPE requirements include six hours of English, six hours of History, six hours of Mathematics, and nine hours of Natural Science courses, nine hours of Humanities, six hours of Social Science courses, and three hours of Fine Arts. Collectively, moreover, GEPE courses equip all students, regardless of major, with a foundation on which to build their academic goals and professional careers thereafter. GEPE acts as the institution’s first level of assessment of student learning toward achievement of ILOs. As students make progress through general education courses and demonstrate subject mastery, the institution is assured that the outcomes identified can actually be expected.
While the GEPE addresses the academic aspect of the assessment of student learning, the institution recognized the need for a focus on operations as well. To demonstrate its commitment to ensure that its operations were sufficient to monitor progress toward achieving its mission, Southern University established the Office of Institutionalizing and Sustaining Strategic Assessment Management (ISSAM). This office is mission-driven as it now has oversight of the assessment of mission-focused institutional learning outcomes at all levels. ISAAM engages administrators, college deans, department chairpersons, faculty members, and students in on-going activities focused on assessment annually.
II. Assessment of Extent to Which Outcomes are Achieved:
University level. The assessment initiative begins at the very top with the university-wide initiative known as Institutionalizing and Sustaining Strategic Assessment Management (ISSAM). The university establishes a strategic plan and each college and department develops a strategic plan in tandem with the university’s plan; these plans are designed to provide direction for strengthening the university’s programs of study. Mandatory data are collected from all departments and programs. Those data are used to track efficiency, effectiveness, and outcomes in all areas of the university.
College/Program level. Relatedly, data are collected at the program and college levels. The College Deans have regular Leadership Team meetings where they meet with chairs from each program and discuss data and success rates as well as areas needing improvement. Data collection at the program level begins at the start of each semester. For example, the Department of Curriculum and Instruction (in the College of Education, Arts and Humanities) faculty assemble for its Professional Learning Community (PLC) meeting and discuss the key assessment(s) for each course. Academic expectations and strategies for enhancing student performance are discussed prior to the first day of classes. Faculty discuss their program learning outcomes and the implications of the latest data reports. They discuss their direction for the upcoming semester based upon the data collected from the previous academic year.
Class level. Formative data are collected in the classes. Students submit assessment work in Live Text—the university’s data management system—and the professor, guided by the rubric(s) that were given to students, grades the assignments and submits them for the generation of data reports. Once the data are submitted, ISSAM data coordinators disaggregate the data and compiles visual reports for each professor. If it is determined that adequate progress is not being made, then strategies to address those deficiencies are put into place. Summative data are collected at the very end of the semester. These data show the overall growth and success rates of students in the various courses. The faculty come together again at semester’s end to determine the degree to
which program goals were met.
Live Text. The data management system is called Live Text. ISSAM data coordinators capture data submitted by the professors and disaggregate the data and generate reports that show student progress or the lack thereof in each area that was assessed. Each course has at least one key assessment; the key assessment is that evaluation activity that determines whether or not teacher
candidates have mastered the course content. Students upload their key component to Live Text and faculty assess their submissions; those data are then submitted to the data coordinator for the generation of data reports. Data reports for each class are discussed at designated times. Faculty decipher the data and determine what instructional strategies are necessary to enhance course content mastery and ultimately improve retention rates.
Additional Information on Data Collection. University and program data are presented during sessions with ISSAM; these sessions focus on data that are germane to the entire university. Moreover, data are presented at various times during the semester in the various colleges and departments. ISSAM data coordinators oversee the collection, disaggregation, and report preparation of course data for the department. In addition, several colleges and departments have a dedicated faculty/staff member to oversee data collection/management. Once data reports are generated, professors are able to visually depict their students’ strengths and weaknesses. Faculty are then in a position to make data-driven decisions regarding adjustments, enhancements. to their course content. ISSAM mandates changes to colleges and programs when the data dictates.
III. Evidence of Improvements Based on Results
The genesis of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is resultant of the institution’s review and analysis of the data pertaining to the Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE). Given the institution’s expectation that its graduates communicate effectively (ILO2), the WPE data showing that only 55% test takers passed the exam (2004-06) was quite telling and prompted the institution to develop a QEP focused on writing (see QEP Impact Report). Thus, the QEP, in and of itself, is evidence of how the university uses results to make improvements. At the college, program and course levels, however, ISSAM coordinates the use of Live Text across all disciplines as it provides a “built-in” comprehensive evaluative framework. All academic degree programs are assessed via Live Text and the completion of the Program and Student Learning Outcome Assessment Report template