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AQIP Category One

HELPING STUDENTS LEARN

 


Context for Analysis

Category One Contents
1P1
1P2
1P3
1P4
1P5
1P6
1P7
1P8
1P9
1P10
1P11
1P12
1P13
1P14
1P15
1P16
1P17
1P18
1R1
1R2
1R3
1R4
1R5
1R6
1I1
1I2

Processes for Helping Students Learn exhibit a range of maturity levels.  Processes related to common learning outcomes (1P1, 1P16, 1P17) are aligned by the use of internal and external measures of learning along with measures of student engagement in learning at the University of Saint Mary (USM).  The USM culture has grown in alignment by using the Ongoing Improvement (OGI) model which links strategic initiatives and annual goals to mission, research, collaborations, actions, evaluation, and improvement and utilizes a data-based, collaborative decision making approach.  USM’s system to determine whether student learning prepares them for further education and employment includes program reviews, career center alumni surveys, internship/practica evaluations, standardized graduate test results, and professional licensure assessments.  The processes related to common learning outcomes will become fully integrated as USM uses the newly established assessments as part of the ongoing improvement process.

Processes for designing new academic programming and monitoring the effectiveness of current programming (1P3, 1P4, 1P13, 1P14) are systematic.  USM takes a strategic and data-based approach when designing new programs and courses that balance the diverse needs of students and the emerging needs of the educational and global markets. The OGI model is used throughout the University through annual reports, program reviews and new program development.  Faculty and Department Chairs conducting 5-year academic program reviews examine quantitative and qualitative data in light of professional standards, workforce and societal trends, mission integration, student achievement, stakeholder satisfaction, job market trends, and competitors’ programs. 

Processes for determining and assessing learning outcomes at the program level (1P2,1P11, 1P12, 1P18) are aligned through internal and external, as well as academic and engagement, measures.  Syllabi are aligned to University Learning Outcomes (ULOs), to Department/Program Learning Outcomes, to Program Standards and Performance Markers, and to Course Outcomes.   USM has adopted and designed three measures to assess student learning.  The internal measure (ULOs) assesses student learning in light of objectives set university-wide and correlates directly to the external measure of the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA).  The third assessment, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), measures student attitudes and practices about learning.   Results from these measures are analyzed by faculty, staff, and administrators during Assessment Day. USM intends to continue to enhance its system of gathering, reporting, analyzing, and using data. 

Processes related to identifying and supporting student needs (1P5, 1P6, 1P7, 1P8, 1P9, 1P10, and 1P15) are systematic and becoming aligned.  Systematic procedures are in place to determine the preparation of students so they can be successful in USM academic programs.   These procedures include identifying specific admissions criteria utilized in predicting success to potential students, designing a system for advising and mentoring that would enhance student learning and retention, and providing students with the tools they need to be successful in college.  This has been accomplished through AQIP Action Projects, Academic Resource Center, remedial programs, First Year Experience, Office of Student Success, and other means.  USM now has the opportunity to institutionalize the processes that have been put into place.   Because student needs focused USM efforts on improving student learning, the systems now in place are integrated into the USM culture.

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1P1 Determining common or shared objectives for learning and development


Faculty, administrators, and the Board of Trustees (BOT) jointly determine common or shared objectives.  Faculty review common or shared objectives at the department level and at large through the Faculty Senate.  Following the governance process, proceedings are forwarded to the Assessment Committee to adapt and adopt the resolutions.   Based on input at a Higher Learning Commission (HLC) post-portfolio workshop from leaders and colleagues at other institutions, the Assessment Committee collapsed eight University Learning Outcomes (ULOs) into four manageable, objective statements.  Upon the recommendation of the Assessment Committee, the faculty, administrators, and Board of Trustees (BOT) adopted the new University Learning Outcomes (ULOs).   The four ULOs state:
    
The student will: 

  • demonstrate ability to investigate and assess information to develop knowledge.

  • demonstrate ability to use, integrate, analyze, and interpret complex information and connect theory and practice to draw new and perceptive conclusions.

  • demonstrate ability to evaluate information from disparate sources, to transform information into meaningful knowledge to solve or address complex issues.

  • demonstrate ability to use English language conventions accurately to construct coherent written and oral arguments.


Informed by mission, USM features several curricular directions that reflect 21st century best practices and needs:

  • a philosophy of education of Applied Liberal Arts that intentionally connects learning to the real world in concrete and practical ways, through active classroom learning and pedagogy, and a variety of experiential learning choices;

  • a Global Studies Institute, cross-disciplinary Idea Seminars and Cultural Studies courses organized around a common theme of global interdependence, and a Global Studies major;

  • an Academic Assessment System that incorporates nationally recognized best practices and measures ;

  • a nationally recognized Service/Service Learning Program;

  • a Strategic Plan that builds on partnerships in health sciences, especially the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Healthcare System (SCLHS);

  • improved initiatives for partnerships and articulation for adult academic programs through extended site offices;

  • online learning programs designed for growth.


USM offers traditional liberal arts academic programs, pre-professional, and professional undergraduate programs in 25 majors, in addition to five master’s and one doctoral level graduate degrees. For a list of degree programs, see Link 1P1-1:  USM Degree Programs.

USM takes its distinct character from the educational mission as stated in the Constitution of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, and the Vincentian charism of its sponsors, that sees education as one of the great acts of charity, “serving others at the fullest points of their needs.” In this sense, USM has always shown flexibility in improving and changing to meet the needs of its neighbors, with respect for diversity of all kinds. This charism provides a context for USM's mission and values, and it is evident in key factors and decisions that describe the current, overall direction of the university, in the Strategic Plan, and in the series of AQIP Action Plans focused on the three categories of Helping Students Learn, Valuing People, and Planning Continuous Improvement.

The Applied Liberal Arts curriculum identifies Areas of Investigation (AI) which articulate USM's Learning Goals for the 21st century. Through discipline-specific requirements, students investigate:

  • the human imagination, expression in literature and the arts, and other artifacts of cultures

  • inductive and deductive reasoning to model the natural, social, and technical world; especially through, but not limited to, mathematics, the natural and behavioral sciences, information systems and technology

  • the values, histories, and interactions of social and political systems across global cultures, with emphasis on American democracy

  • spirituality, faith, and the wholeness of the human person; understanding interconnections of mind, heart, and hand

  • ethical and moral dimensions of decisions and actions


The OGI model is used by all university departments, linking strategic initiatives and annual goals to mission, research, collaborations, actions, evaluation, and improvement. The OGI process utilizes a data based, collaborative decision making approach. Faculty, staff, and administrators deliberate upon research based information and identify relevant professional standards (e.g., teaching and learning methodologies or financial stability indicators). Applying these standards to the USM environment yields criteria to measure effectiveness and then define relevant and meaningful data points. Information Services staff members work with faculty and staff to determine appropriate tools for data collection, leading to either centralized or decentralized collection procedures. Data are generated during the OGI Action and Implementation phase and results are analyzed during the Ongoing Evaluation phase. Findings lead to improvement decisions which establish new goals for ongoing improvement. 

The OGI model, which involves internal and external stakeholders, is embedded in decision making systems and guides initiatives. It is effective in generating new action projects and managing the ULO assessment system. It provides a process for disseminating strategic initiatives and action plans that include a feedback loop designed to facilitate analysis. The process enables faculty, staff, and administrators to select relevant data and manage the information for student learning; overall institutional objective strategies; and improvement efforts for student assessment, teaching effectiveness, faculty evaluations, annual reports, and program reviews. Results are analyzed and used in the OGI phase of Ongoing Evaluation. 

For more information regarding the OGI process, please see Link 1P1-2: OGI Innovation Model 1, Link 1P1-3:  OGI Innovative Model 2, and Link 1P1-4:  OGI Inner Chart.

The evidence presented here and in 1P2 demonstrates that we meet Core Component 3B: The institution demonstrates that the exercise of intellectual inquiry and the acquisition, application and integration of broad learning and skills are integral to the educational programs. As clearly articulated in its various publications and on its website, USM’s general education is appropriate to its mission, values, philosophy of education, program offerings, and degree levels.  Moreover it is based on widely held 21st century learning outcomes, as well as an Applied Liberal Arts Curriculum, both of which address, among other things, societal values and ethical and moral considerations for our culturally diverse world.   The general education component of USM’s undergraduate education is predicated on four learning outcomes (see above), which we believe every college educated person should possess and that are continually assessed, internally and externally, to assure both quality and consistency.   These four university learning outcomes challenge students to engage in collecting, analyzing, and communicating information, in mastering modes of inquiry or creative work, and in developing skills adaptable to changing environments.

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1P2 Determining your specific program learning objectives


During regular department meetings, the Faculty Department Chairs work with specific department faculty to develop and revise specified learning outcomes that adhere to the department’s regulations and/or accreditation needs. Syllabi are aligned to ULOs, to Department/Program Learning Goals, to Program Standards and Performance Markers, and to Course Outcomes.

Using the ULOs, each program is responsible for collecting data using a rubric containing 3 categories: Exceeds Expectations, Meets Expectations, and Does Not Meet Expectations. (See Link 1P2-1:  ULO Rubrics.) Courses of study are assigned one ULO for data collection (See Link 1P2-2:  Data Point Matrix.)   Students are required to demonstrate higher level thinking to achieve each of the ULOs.

The mission statement of the institution is the University of Saint Mary educates students of diverse backgrounds to realize their God-given potential and prepares them for value-centered lives and careers that contribute to the well-being of our global society. This means that USM faculty members must keep current and up to date on topics related to education in the 21st century. Faculty members strive to be life- long learners and participate in many different scholarship opportunities related to teaching and learning.  While they are not required to publish as part of their professional responsibilities, except at the doctoral level, all faculty members are engaged in lifelong learning opportunities to support their practitioners’ approach to instruction. Instructors review current research on educational topics from peer-reviewed journals. Many instructors publish articles for scholarly journals and participate in state and national organizations that support scholarly work in specific disciplines. Some instructors choose to attend workshops or seminars to stay current in their field of study, and a few faculty have published books (two in the past three years).

All undergraduate programs offer courses designated as Idea Seminars.  Students must complete a certain number of these courses to satisfy their general education requirement.  (See General Education requirements in the Course Catalog (www.stmary.edu/Academic-Programs/Academic-Catalog.aspx).  Idea Seminar objectives state that students will increase their:

  • general understanding of global interdependence,

  • understanding of change as a component of global interdependence,

  • understanding of interconnectedness as a component of global interdependence,

  • understanding of diversity as a component of global interdependence,

  • writing ability.


Students are also required to take at least one Cultural Studies course, which includes cultural discussions of variations and similarities among diverse societies.

Co-curricular goals are connected with the core curriculum through Service Learning. These outcomes state that students will:

  • develop an enhanced sense of civic responsibility, making students aware of their responsibility to address injustices and inequities,

  • recognize the dignity of each person's capacity to learn, to relate, and better our diverse world,

  • use reflection to connect theory with experiences and thought with action.


For more information regarding Service Learning, see the Service Learning webpage on the USM website: www.stmary.edu/Academic-Programs/Service-Learning.aspx.

Graduate program goals and outcomes are aligned with the USM mission and ULOs. Each program tailors outcomes to meet advanced level standards in the discipline and as defined by psychology, education, and business professional associations and accreditation agencies.

The faculty and students contribute to scholarship, creative work, and the discovery of knowledge in a variety of ways, including, honors programs, honors societies, and degrees of distinction.  (See Link 1P2-3:  Student Scholarship for more information regarding these programs.) 

In order to enhance students’ understanding of diverse cultures, USM offers students the opportunity to travel abroad to study for a summer, semester, or a full year.  For more information, see the Study Abroad webpage on the USM website (www.stmary.edu/Academic-Programs/Study-Abroad.aspx).

The evidence presented here and in 1P1 demonstrates that we meet Core Component 3B. (covered in 1P1) 

The evidence presented here and in 1P1 also demonstrates that we meet Core Component 4B: the institution demonstrates a commitment to educational achievement and improvement through ongoing assessment of student learning. Since its last portfolio review, USM’s assessment of student learning has made significant advances.  Four years ago, our assessment process had failed us, and we had no way of measuring student learning either through internal or external processes.  That has changed.  Based on input we received from the HLC and peer institutions at our last portfolio workshop, we restructured and simplified our university learning outcomes; redrew our rubrics and matrices regarding those outcomes as to how and where they would be measured; and began using both the Collegiate Learning Assessment and the National Survey of Student Engagement as direct and indirect external measures of student learning.  2011-2012 marked the first academic year for which we have complete data.  We are in the process of analyzing that data and will “close the loop” in its use in making improvements in our curriculum at our first Annual Assessment Day in October 2012.


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1P3 Designing new programs and courses that facilitate student learning and are competitive


USM takes a strategic and data-based approach when designing new programs and courses that balance the diverse needs of students with the emerging needs of the educational and global markets. Environmental scans that occur during strategic planning cycles also direct faculty and staff as they develop new program proposals and growth plans for existing programs.  (See Link 1P3-1:  Criteria for Program Growth Plans.)  Internal and external factors are examined in defining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The diverse needs of students and the contemporary demands for jobs define the mandate for service that is considered within the mission of USM and its sponsors, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. The confluence of strengths and opportunities yields proposals that are further analyzed using a business model that evaluates risk within the context of financial stewardship.

New programs are developed at the administrative and departmental level, sent to the Academic Affairs Committee or Graduate Council for review, and voted on at the Faculty Senate prior to adoption. The new programs are scrutinized for cost effectiveness and student demand in light of competitors.  For specific examples of course and program changes, refer to Link 1P3-2:  Examples of Course and Program Changes.

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1P4 Designing responsive academic programming that balances and integrates learning goals, students’ career needs, and the realities of the employment market


The Ongoing Improvement Model (OGI) is used throughout the University for annual reports, program reviews and new program development. Faculty and chairs conducting program reviews examine data regarding workforce and societal trends to make necessary changes to courses and programs. Licensure programs mandate a specific level of performance to earn licensure.

Individual departments stay current with job market trends, review competitors’ programs, respond by either dropping courses or adding courses, and design new programs to remain competitive with other universities. As outlined in the Link 1P3-2: Examples of Course and Program Changes, USM has added multiple courses and programs with specific learning goals to meet students’ career needs and the realities of the employment market. Requirements for entry into undergraduate licensure programs and graduate programs are listed in the course catalog.

At the University of Saint Mary, we believe students unlock the secret of experience and knowledge by moving beyond the classroom. As part of our Service Learning curriculum, students put real-world, practical knowledge to the test, while helping those in need.  While participating in Service Learning, students are exposed to a multicultural society and interact with people from diverse backgrounds. See Link 1P4-1:  Service Learning

The evidence presented here and in 1P10 demonstrates that we meet Core Component 1C: the institution understands the relationship between its mission and the diversity of society. Further information on how the university meets this Core Component, can be found in 1P1 and 2, and Category 3.  As explained, USM takes its distinct character from the mission of the Sisters of Charity and its Vincentian charism, which holds as one of the great acts of charity, “serving others at the fullest points of their needs” without regard to race, color, creed, ethnicity or any other factors that commonly divide humankind.  That mission is articulated at USM, the SCL’s sponsored institution, in its mission statement, which pledges to educate “students of diverse backgrounds to realize their God-given potential and prepare them for value-centered lives and careers that contribute to the well-being of our global society.”  And it is realized in its curriculum and co-curricular activities which seek not only to provide students with an understanding of human diversity but also with the desire to serve mankind in all of its diversity, most notably and successfully through its Cultural Studies course requirements and its  highly regarded and extensive service and service learning programs. 

The evidence presented here and in 1P12 demonstrates that we meet Core Component 3A: the institution’s degree programs are appropriate to higher education. Our courses are kept current and are appropriate in level to the degree sought.  Further careful attention is paid to assure that program quality is maintained across all modes of delivery (on ground and online), locations (main campus and our Overland Park campus), at the university and in the high schools through our dual credit program.  Our specialized accreditors have affirmed the quality of many of our programs, as do various licensure examinations by which our students qualify to enter their chosen professions for which they have been prepared at USM (e.g. nursing, teaching, physical therapy, health information management).  Where such specialized accreditors do not exist, program faculty continually monitor job market trends, including desired employment skills and knowledge, something they are required to do and to include in their five year program reviews.  This process commonly involves external reviewers, as well as advisory boards composed of people employed in that field (e.g. Business, Health Information Management and Nursing). 


Transfer students are degree-seeking students who have previously enrolled in an accredited college or university after graduating from secondary school. A cumulative grade point average of 2.0-2.5 (or higher for some programs) for all college course work is required for admission. Admission into USM does not constitute admission into any particular program (e.g., nursing) or guarantee athletic eligibility.   The USM catalog has a section on "Transfer Guidelines" that addresses how the university decides whether transfer courses are accepted. In addition, the university catalog contains “Admission Guidelines” for traditional, transfer, international, home-schooled, high school and senior students. See Link 1P4-2:  Transfer and Admission Guidelines for more information on transfer and admission requirements.  After students are accepted into the university, a transcript evaluation is completed by the registrar.  Copies of this evaluation are given to the students and their advisors to be used for academic counseling.

Although the evidence presented here and in 1P13 demonstrates that we meet Core Component 4A, the information provided in 1P5 and the results in 1R4 provide additional evidence for Core Component 4A: the institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs. USM maintains a practice of regular program reviews, through its annual program reports submitted to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and more extensively through its five-year program reviews.  We have well established and recorded criteria by which we assure the quality of the credit we accept in transfer.  We are careful to stipulate and review all course prerequisites, as well as the rigor of our courses and expectations for student learning, including our dual credit courses.  And we meet or exceed commonly expected faculty credentials, while providing support for continued faculty professional development. We have met the expectations of all of our programs which require specialized accreditation, which helps us assure our students that our programs prepare them well for the professions they seek upon graduation. 

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1P5 Determining the preparation required of students for the specific curricula, programs, courses, and learning they will pursue


Systematic procedures are in place to determine the preparation of students so they can be successful in USM academic programs. Enrollment Management has identified the following criteria that are utilized in predicting success of potential students:  high school GPA, ACT/SAT scores, Expected Family Contribution (financial aid), minority status, residence (out of state v. KS/MO), gender, athletic status (athlete v. non-athlete), and faculty/staff referral.

Departments identify the core foundational skills required for entry level coursework and use assessments to determine skill levels. Enrollment in certain core courses depends upon student ACT, SAT, or Compass exam placement scores.   Achievement ranges align with course levels in math, science, and business and students are enrolled in appropriate courses. Writing skills are monitored in Composition I, which all freshmen are required to take and pass with a C or better. If a grade lower than C is achieved, USM requires students to retake the course.  In addition, the students are strongly encouraged to work with Academic Resource Center (ARC) tutors and software programs. (See Link 1P5-1:  ARC Resources for more information regarding the services of the ARC.)  Transfer students are required to take Transfer Core (EN 310), which has built-in assessments of foundational skills used to determine learning needs and potential for academic success.

Certain programs (education and nursing) offer introductory foundation courses which provide an overview of the field and the performance expectations of the major, including GPA and clinical experiences. Content, concepts, and skills for the major reflect professional standards of the learned societies. Student achievement in these foundation courses yields information that faculty, advisors, and students use to make informed decisions about potential for success based upon interests and abilities.

USM Graduate Programs assess the preparedness of students through various admission requirements.  Where needed, the Business Program requires students to take primer courses prior to completing relevant graduate courses.  The requirements for admission to graduate programs are outlined in Link 1P5-2:   Graduate Program Requirements - Psychology, Business, Education, and DPT; and also included in the Course Catalog.

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1P6 Communicating to current and prospective students the required preparation and learning and development objectives for specific programs, courses, and degrees or credentials


Expectations for student preparation and learning objectives are communicated in a variety of ways including written materials, advising/mentoring for prospective and current students, and required courses. Written materials describe proficiency levels that are prerequisites for admissions, enrollment, and honors; program of study requirements; and university/program learning outcomes. The statements are included in the Student Handbook, University Catalogs, and Specific Program handouts which are made available in print, on the USM website, and on eSpire, USM's learning management system. Faculty, advisors, and admissions/registrar staff inform students how to access this information and explain the requirements and expectations during recruitment & enrollment, in classes and during advising sessions. First Year Experience (FYE) freshmen are in direct contact with advisors, who also serve as their instructors, allowing an immediate, face to face relationship to develop over two semesters.   (See Link 1P6-1: FYE Advising for more information regarding advising through FYE and Link 1P6-2: FYE Syllabus Fall and Spring.)

An AQIP Action Project was launched to design a system for advising and mentoring that would enhance student learning and retention and ensure that all new students (including transfers) were immediately linked with a team of well-trained faculty and student success advisors. This initiative provides optimum academic support for all students throughout the advising process and assists them in investigating academic and career options while fostering strong mentoring relationships throughout their course of study.  For more information regarding the AQIP project, see Link 1P6-3: AQIP Action Project – Advising.

The advising and mentoring system for prospective and current students is an important feature for communicating expectations (See Link 1P6-4: Advising and Mentoring System).

The Academic Resource Center (ARC) actively provides support to students and faculty with the primary goal of aiding students of all abilities in becoming effective learners. The ARC does this by helping students improve in the critical academic areas of reading, writing, and computational skills. In addition, the ARC provides tutors in a wide range of academic fields. The ARC also hosts seminars on “student survival skills” which include time management, stress management, note-taking skills, test preparation skills, as well as math, reading, and study skills seminars. These short, small group seminars are designed to develop the skills and abilities necessary to succeed in university life.

Information regarding USM program requirements, faculty and staff, costs, and accreditation relationships is made available to students and the public on the USM website.

The evidence provided here demonstrates that we have met Core Component 2B: the institution presents itself clearly and completely to its students and to the public with regard to its programs, requirements, faculty and staff, costs to students, control, and accreditation relationships. USM conveys this information by various means, including written materials and advising/mentoring for prospective and current students.  Written materials describe proficiency levels that are prerequisites for admission, enrollment and honors; program requirements; and university/program learning outcomes.  These statements are included in the Student Handbook, the University Catalog, and specific program handouts, which are made available in print, on the USM website, and on eSpire, USM’s learning management system.  Faculty, advisors and admissions/registrar staff inform students how to access this information and explain the requirements and expectations during orientation, in class, and during advising sessions.  

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1P7 Helping students select programs of study that match their needs, interests, and abilities


To help students select programs, academic advisors provide guidance through regularly scheduled meetings. Further, the ARC as well as the Career Center and Campus Counseling work directly with students to clarify their goals and expectations, to reflect on their abilities, and to synchronize the match between interests and abilities. Each of these resources probes students through reflection, course requirements, surveys, and computerized career inventories, which assists them to assess programs and career options in light of their goals and abilities.

While these resources have been effective for many students, USM has identified a need to build a more systematic process for ensuring student success. This is central to USM's Strategic Plan, particularly the initiatives for growing enrollment and improving retention. Consequently, a Student Success office was created to address student success and satisfaction, increase communication, and improve students’ use of services.  For more information, see Link 1P7: Student Success.

The evidence presented here and in 1P15 demonstrates that we meet Core Component 3D: the institution provides support for student learning and effective teaching. USM assesses the needs and provides ample support for student learning and effective teaching – including a thorough assessment of student learning, adequate resources (e.g. professional and program development grants), and infrastructure (e.g. smart classrooms).  Several times each year, Faculty Development Brown Baggers are offered, largely on pedagogical matters.  These are often led by faculty for faculty.   Each student admitted to USM is measured against a carefully prepared list of at-risk factors before they enter, so as to improve their advising and chances for success.  Once admitted, all students are carefully monitored – especially freshmen and first semester transfer students – so as to identify any signs of failure and to intervene as soon as possible with appropriate measures. Leading our efforts in this area are our CARE Team, Student Success Office, Campus Counseling, and Academic Resource Center.

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1P8 Dealing with students who are underprepared for academic programs and courses


USM recognizes the relationship between lack of preparation and lack of success and is taking steps to screen and assist students so that they are academically successful.  USM has initiated and continues the following programs to provide students with the tools they need to be successful in college.  These programs include First Year Experience, Early Alert and Intervention System (See Link 1P8-1:  Early Alert and Intervention System), Remedial Programs, Academic Resource Center, and other personalized resources.  For more information regarding these programs, see Link 1P8-2:  Student Services.  

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1P9 Detecting and addressing differences in students’ learning styles


USM places a strong emphasis on active and collaborative learning strategies that engage multiple learning styles.  Faculty institutes, department in-service days, and professional development workshops are some of the ways in which USM supports the development of pedagogical skills that address specific student and institutional needs.  Furthermore, faculty and staff attend regional and national conferences where they participate in workshops that address student learning styles.  USM also addresses student needs on an individual basis.  Differences in student learning style are detected and addressed through one-on-one counseling sessions with faculty and support staff.

Currently, USM relies on individual departments and programs to consider various approaches to different learning styles – especially as they pertain to particular disciplines.  For example, the mathematics and English departments noted a need to extend the number of contact hours in their developmental courses, so they increased class time by one hour a week to be used for recitation purposes.  The mathematics department is increasingly integrating technology into its classes so as to provide more personalized, interactive instruction.

In general, faculty has transitioned from traditional lecture to a more interactive/hands on approach.  USM conducts Faculty Development Workshops/Brown Baggers and has addressed the subject at Faculty Institutes, which have included presentations on Gen-X/Millennials and other related topics.  USM faculty researched best practices and implemented a modified program called Teaching Triangles, which addresses the issue through observation and discussion of different instructional approaches.  In this program, groups of three faculty members observe each other’s classes and then discuss pedagogy and assessment techniques which address differences in students’ learning styles.  For other innovative practices, see Link 1P9:  Innovative Teaching Practices.

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1P10 Addressing the special needs of different subgroups


The Academic Resource Center (ARC) actively provides support to all students and faculty with the primary goal of aiding students of all abilities in becoming effective learners. The ARC does this by helping students to improve in the critical academic areas of reading, writing, and learning skills.   In order to assist students in optimizing their performance, the ARC provides support for students with disabilities. The ARC Director assists students with obtaining appropriate accommodations.

USM supports the Americans with Disabilities Act and makes reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities.  If students have special needs that prevent full expression of their abilities, they contact the course instructor during the first week of class to discuss resources and accommodations.  Any student may request a reasonable accommodation from his or her supervisor or instructor.  All requests for reasonable accommodation are shared only with individuals conducting official USM business or with members of the USM community who have a “need to know” in order to protect privacy and act in the student’s educational interest. 

The Athletic Department has implemented programs that work directly to improve student-athlete success and retention.  These programs include:  Culture of Athletics, Improving Academic Success of Athletes, and Development of Leadership.   For more information regarding these programs, see Link 1P10-1:  Athletic Programs to Improve Student Success.

To identify and address concerns unique to commuters a campus organization, Commuters Are Real Spires (CARS), was formed.  The mission of the organization is to provide a voice for commuter students within the university.   In response to improving services for transfer and commuter students, Student Life surveyed transfers and commuters to determine what additional clubs they would like to see on campus. The results of this survey and actions taken are included in the following link.  Link 1P10-2:  Commuter and Transfer Survey.

USM has been designated a military-friendly school.   USM assists current and prospective students who are active duty military, veterans and military/veteran dependents through the University of Saint Mary Military and Veterans Coordinator's office. USM is well-equipped to serve military students as their primary source for information on eligibility requirements, admissions, and other important resources and employs a military certifying official in the registrar's office.  For more information see the USM Veterans’ webpages at http://www.stmary.edu/veterans.

The evidence presented here and in 1P4 demonstrates that we meet Core Component 1C. (covered in 1P4) 

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1P11 Defining, documenting, and communicating expectations for effective teaching and learning


Instructors define, document, and communicate their expectations through vehicles such as the college catalogue, ULOs, course outlines and syllabi. Expectations for learners are communicated during orientation, by advisors, through programs such as peer mentoring and via feedback from faculty.

In the past two years, USM has adopted and designed three measures to assess student learning.  The internal measure (ULOs) assesses student learning in light of objectives set university-wide and correlates directly to the external measure of the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA).  The third assessment, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), measures student attitudes and practices about learning.  The data from these assessments is compiled and organized so that it may be analyzed by faculty, administrators, and staff during the institution’s Assessment Day in the fall.

USM uses various procedures to document effective teaching and learning.  These include:  annual reports, course and faculty evaluations, program reviews, rank and tenure process, and post tenure process.   For more information regarding these processes, see Link 1P11-1: Processes for Effective Teaching and Learning.

USM recognizes the importance of Academic Freedom.  From the USM Faculty Handbook:

USM honors and upholds the primary goals of Catholic higher education, those of intellectual, moral and spiritual growth. USM believes that the pursuit of truth is fundamental for the expanding of knowledge, the transmitting of wisdom, and the deepening of a faith informed and freely chosen. In affirmation of these principles, Saint Mary’s statement on academic freedom is rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition and consistent with the best spirit of a liberal education.

In accordance with the purposes of USM as expressed in its mission statement, the faculty, guided by habits of critical inquiry, is entitled to:

  • freedom in teaching and discussing course subject matter in the classroom and in other academic settings in which the faculty participates as faculty of USM; and

  • freedom in scholarly research and publication.


USM faculty are also citizens, members of a learned profession, and members of this academic institution. When speaking or writing as citizens, faculty shall be free from institutional censorship or discipline. Faculty should remember, however, that the public may judge their profession and this institution by their statements. When speaking or writing as citizens, faculty should make every effort to communicate that they are not institutional spokespersons speaking for or on behalf of the institution.

The evidence provided here demonstrates that we have met Core Component 2D: the institution is committed to freedom of expression and the pursuit of truth in teaching and learning. USM recognizes the importance of freedom of expression and pursuit of truth.  This is probably best expressed in the Faculty Handbook under Academic Freedom:  “USM believes that the pursuit of truth is fundamental for the expanding of knowledge, the transmitting of wisdom, and the deepening of a faith informed and freely chosen.  In affirmation of these principles, Saint Mary’s statement on academic freedom is rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition and consistent with the best spirit of a liberal education.  In accordance with the purposes of USM as expressed in its mission statement, the faculty, guided by habits of critical inquiry, are entitled to ”freedom in teaching and discussing course subject matter in the classroom and in other academic settings in which the faculty participates as faculty of USM; and freedom in scholarly research and publication.” 

Academic honesty is expected of all members of the USM community. It is an essential component of higher education and is necessary for true academic growth. Christian tradition and professional excellence demand that truth be valued in all interactions. Justice requires that all members of the USM community possess the skills and learning that they profess to have.

Academic dishonesty includes, without limitation, any form of cheating whether in or out of the classroom; the presenting of purchased or stolen papers, computer programs, reports, or other written work as one’s original work; failure to acknowledge the source of quotations, unique ideas, figures, tables, charts, and diagrams through academically acceptable attribution when these are used in papers, reports or formal presentations; falsification of information; and destruction, concealment or unauthorized modification of academic materials of USM, faculty, other student or any other person(s) for purposes of self-gain or diminishing the academic work of another. Because standards of citation, attribution and use of materials may vary among academic disciplines or within various specialties of an academic discipline, these general definitions should be considered base levels of academic dishonesty. Individual faculty may define further academic honesty expectations in course syllabi appropriate to their academic discipline.

The Academic Honesty Policy is contained in the Faculty and Student Handbooks and appears or is linked on all course syllabi.

USM has a policy regarding the reporting of incidents of academic dishonesty.  Faculty submit a report to the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) using a common form that includes a description of the infraction and the penalty imposed.  A copy of the report is placed in the VPAA’s office.  In the event the VPAA receives notice of a repeat offense, s/he will contact the instructors involved, as well as the Department Chair, with whom s/he will meet to discuss the appropriate action to be taken.  Students will be informed in writing of that decision.  If no formal action is taken against the student by the university, or unless there is due cause to retain the file, this report will be destroyed upon the student’s graduation.  As long as the student’s file is in the possession of the VPAA the information in that file will be deemed confidential and disclosed to faculty only on an as needed basis.  See Link 1P11-2:  Academic Honesty Reporting Form.   

The evidence provided here demonstrates that we have met Core Component 2E: the institution ensures that faculty, students, and staff acquire, discover, and apply knowledge responsibly. The University exercises effective oversight and support services to insure the quality and integrity of research and scholarly practice of faculty, staff, and students.  It clearly articulates, for everyone – not just students -- that academic honesty is “an essential component of higher education and is necessary for true academic growth,” and that dishonesty will not be tolerated. The University’s Academic Honesty Policy is included in the Faculty and Student Handbooks, as well as course syllabi.  Further, USM has a carefully articulated academic honesty policy, which mandates reports of academic dishonesty.  It also explains the process by which offenders are penalized and/or required to go through a process whereby they better understand the nature of their offenses and how best to assure that there are no repeat offenses.  Records of all reported offenses are kept in the office of the Academic Vice President.   

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1P12 Building an effective and efficient course delivery system


In developing an effective and efficient course delivery system, USM addresses the pedagogical issues for the three delivery categories: traditional-day; adult-evening, and online. The Academic Affairs Committee (AAC), ALC, and VPAA have specific roles and responsibilities, as outlined in the Faculty Handbook, to review and monitor curriculum integrity. Therefore, the checks and balances that are built into the USM program review and governance systems ensure a balance between student and institutional needs. Faculty development, course scheduling, and technological resources are key to tailoring the delivery systems. The features of each system are outlined in Link 1P12:  Course System Delivery Features.

USM expects the three delivery systems to operate within existing systems and structures for curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Therefore, the quality assurance processes in place apply to each delivery approach at every teaching location, from course syllabi and faculty development to schedules, pedagogy, assessment, resources, and overall governance. However, assessments unique to specific delivery systems have been developed to ensure that they meet students’ needs and USM requirements. See Link 1P12:  Course System Delivery Features.  Necessary modifications or additions, suggested by any stakeholder (e.g., students, faculty, staff, partners), are reviewed through appropriate governance or administrative lines to assure comparability of quality.

Student needs are evaluated through surveys of students and staff as well as assessments of student performance, and then course delivery systems are modified to meet those needs.  In order to build more effective and efficient courses, the English and math departments have developed remedial classes that address the needs of students under-prepared for college level work. These classes offer intensive instruction designed to bring students up to speed so they can successfully meet the challenges of higher education. These classes are small and permit students to have one-on-one instruction from faculty.  Interdepartmental as well as intradepartmental coordination takes place each semester to insure instructors for traditional courses communicate prior to scheduling classes in order to minimize conflicts. For example, science classes that require labs meet for an extended time once each week.  It is important for these labs to be scheduled so they do not prevent students from enrolling in other required courses. Independent studies are offered to students who are approaching graduation. 

The evidence presented here and in 1P4 demonstrates that we meet Core Component 3A. (covered in 1P4) 

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1P13 Ensuring that programs and courses are up-to-date and effective


USM systematically monitors curriculum effectiveness and currency through its reliance on the Ongoing Improvement Model (OGI) used throughout the University. Specific to curriculum, OGI is integrated within the policy and procedures for annual reports, program reviews, and new program development. OGI criteria are embedded in annual report guidelines and require faculty and programs to examine curriculum goals, analyze evidence toward meeting the goals, communicate findings, and make informed decisions for improvement based upon the evidence.

Faculty and chairs conducting 5-year academic Program Reviews use the OGI model to examine quantitative and qualitative data in light of professional standards, workforce and societal trends, mission integration, student achievement, and stakeholder satisfaction. After departmental analysis and evaluation, faculty establish improvement goals. Then the chair invites an outside reviewer to evaluate the report and schedule an on-site visit. This external content expert uses the standards of learned societies to judge the quality of the review process, the curriculum, student achievement, and improvement goals. Reviewer evaluations and feedback are used by department faculty and forwarded to the AAC  and the VPAA, who then report findings and make recommendations to the President and BOT. The OGI model enables faculty to make informed program decisions and ensures built in accountability to stakeholders.  See Link 1P13-1:  Program Review Outline.

Faculty participation at learned society meetings also ensures that curriculum and instruction reflect best practice, professional standards, and current trends in higher education. Professional Development Funds support faculty attendance at national and regional meetings on a regular basis. Faculty must submit an application in September to the VPAA to request funding to attend these meetings.  Priority is given to those requests associated with (1) accreditation, (2) teaching development, and (3) research.  See Link 1P13-2 Professional Development  Fund Request.

Online faculty members are evaluated by students through course evaluations and by the department responsible for the course.  Issues that may arise are sent to the Director of Online Learning, and the department chair is then apprised.  See Link 1P13-3: Online Student Evaluations and Link 1P13-4: Online Response Rate for more information. 

USM offers an Experiential Learning Assessment (ELA) program for learning not covered by the American Council on Education (ACE) Guidelines. After completing a one-credit hour course in portfolio preparation, GE 325 Life Experience Seminar, students may petition evaluation of their learning by assembling a Life Experience Portfolio. The Committee on Life Experience evaluates the portfolio based on an Experiential Learning Portfolio Rubric.

Dual credit courses offered by high schools are overseen by the corresponding USM Faculty Department Chairs.  These chairs approve course content, syllabi, and assessment measures.  High school faculty must include the same course outcomes as equivalent university courses, and they must have a master’s in the field. 

Although the evidence presented here and in 1P4 demonstrates that we meet Core Component 4A, the information provided in 1P5 and the results in 1R4 provide additional evidence for meeting Core Component 4A. (covered in 1P4) 

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IP14 Changing or discontinuing programs and courses


Courses and programs are continuously evaluated by departments, and changes are implemented based on criteria such as: (1) comparing courses and programs to comparable institutions to determine what courses to add, discontinue, or adjust in content, (2) evaluating course content to incorporate relevant topics, and (3) developing content of courses using professional standards.

A program can be discontinued for two reasons. One, the department realizes that enrollments are insufficient to run the program.  Two, the VPAA conducts a program and cost analysis to determine program viability.   For either reason, the department chair would bring this matter to the Academic Affairs Committee or Graduate Council and then the Faculty Senate. Next, the BOT would consider the recommendation and the VPAA would inform the department chair if the program can no longer be offered.  

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1P15 Determining and addressing the learning support needs of students and faculty


USM uses commonly accepted vehicles and methodologies for identifying and addressing student needs, such as, attendance monitoring, midterm grades, study halls for athletes, Academic Resource Center, Counseling Center, Individualized Education Plans, and self-identification.

All students currently enrolled at USM, who qualify for services, register their documentation with the ARC. After the paperwork has been evaluated, the student, with the assistance of the ARC Director, creates a plan to address needs for the semester. Students who do not register their paperwork and create a plan are not eligible for academic accommodations based on the guidelines recommended by National Association of Higher Education and Disability (Kansas Chapter).

To address student needs specific to USM, the university has implemented a variety of programs including  the Student Success program, First Year Experience, Early Alert System – identifies pre- and post-risk factors (See 1P8-1 Early Alert and Intervention), Senior Mentoring Program, and an Attendance Reporting System.  In addition, an extensive review and revision of USM’s advising program, targeting especially freshmen and transfers, was completed recently.  Furthermore, USM has implemented an indirect measure of student learning with the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which will also provide an even broader gauge of student learning and success.  NSSE is a self-reporting survey of student engagement in many different forms.  See Link 1P8-2 Student Services.

USM has an Information Services (IS) department that oversees computer hardware and provides technological support to students and faculty.  For further information, see the Campus Technology webpage on the USM website, www.stmary.edu/Student-Life/Campus-Technology.aspx.   Faculty learning support needs are addressed through technology training and workshops, library information literacy training, professional development fund requests, and Brown Bag lunches.  See 1P15-1: Faculty and Staff Resources.  Every faculty member has a professional development plan. USM provides funding for faculty to attend conferences and pursue professional development.  Faculty submit a request outlining the purpose and expected outcomes for professional development funds through the VPAA’s office to attend these conferences.  See Link 1P13-2: Program Development Fund Request.

Faculty may also submit a request for Program Development Funds. The Program Development Awards are intended for projects or specific activities to help increase effectiveness of programs and to generate further a creative vision for what USM could accomplish with additional funding.  These funds help faculty provide a student experience beyond the means of departmental budgets.  For example, Science and Math used the funds to help purchase the Audience Response System (clickers), used in their courses to solicit instant student understanding and feedback.  See Link 1P15-2 Program Development Award for the application.

USM’s De Paul Library is home to thousands of resources to help all students excel, study, or conduct research.  De Paul Library houses several special collections.  For more information see the De Paul Library webpage on the USM website, http://www.stmary.edu/Academic-Programs/De-Paul-Library.aspx.

In order to support student learning and licensure requirements, Education, Psychology, Nursing, and DPT have supervised, clinical practice sites in various regional locations.

The evidence presented here and in 1P7 demonstrates that we meet Core Component 3D. (covered in 1P7) 

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1P16 Aligning co-curricular development goals with curricular learning objectives


Alignment between co-curricular and curricular goals grows out of a particular department and its objectives.  USM has several department organizations engaged in scholarly and service opportunities.  For example, Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) provides members with relevant business opportunities that are essential in creating a competitive advantage in the workplace.  Participation in PBL enables members to develop valuable communication, leadership, teamwork, and entrepreneurial skills while positively impacting the community.   For a list of other campus organizations and their missions, see Link 1P16: Student Organizations

Alignment between service learning co-curricular and curricular goals occurs because most service learning experiences are integrated in courses, and students are required to reflect on connections with ULOs.  Further, linkages are made across USM due to the broad representation of the USM community in establishing and approving ULOs. 

The Dean of Student Life (now a Vice Presidential position) joined the university assessment committee to participate in aligning curricular and co-curricular learning experiences and to ensure an integrated, comprehensive system for assessing ULOs.  This led to improved coordination between academic assessment and student life development.

The evidence presented here shows that we have met Core Component 3E: the institution fulfills the claims it makes for an enriched educational environment. USM’s curriculum and co-curricular programs are appropriate to the university’s mission and contribute to students’ educational experience.  USM has several programs, and hosts many special events, that engage students in scholarly and service activities.  As noted above, follow the link to see the list of such student organizations including annotations as to their missions and activities.  Service and service learning are widespread at USM and attract many students, thereby enriching the educational environment, as well.  Further, the University offers a full array of cultural events during the course of the year (e.g. choral, art, theater), which involve students, faculty, staff, community members, and students from other colleges.

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1P17 Determining that students have met learning and development expectations


USM’s system to determine the effectiveness of student preparation for further education and employment includes Program Reviews, career center alumni surveys, practica evaluations, standardized graduate test results, and professional licensure assessments.  Surveys of alumni request information on the effectiveness of USM programs in preparing them for workforce participation. 

Several programs (e.g. Nursing, Education, Counseling Psychology, Pastoral Ministry, Sport Management, and Health Information Management) require practica in their major.  The practica supervisor completes an evaluation, which includes items that solicit feedback on student preparation to perform effectively in the field.  Program chairs summarize these results annually, and, where applicable, programs include these findings in their annual reports.  

Program chairs use standardized test results when available. Students in licensure programs (e.g., nursing, teaching, counseling) must pass a standardized test for program completion and/or licensure, and chairs analyze sub-scores in terms of curriculum alignment, making revision when warranted. Students applying to graduate school take standardized tests (e.g. MCAT, GRE, etc.), and when scores are released to the University, program faculty analyze how the results may impact curriculum. Acceptance rate to graduate school is also evidence used to evaluate student preparation. As a part of the OGI cycle, this information is reviewed by faculty and chairs in light of program implications.

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1P18 Designing a process for assessing student learning


In the past two years, USM has adopted and designed three measures to assess student learning.  The internal measure (ULOs) assesses student learning in light of objectives set university-wide and correlates directly to the external measure of the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA).  The third assessment, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), measures student attitudes and practices about learning.  The Assessment Committee condensed eight ULOs into four to make data collection manageable and to align with measures of the CLA.  A data point rubric was constructed so that each program reports ULO competency based on a series of indicators. Programs were selected to ensure coverage of all ULOs.  In addition, faculty teaching Idea Seminars, Cultural Studies, First Year Experience, and Writing Competency courses also report data on assigned ULOs.  The Assessment Committee revised rubrics for assessing levels of competency on ULOs and established a Learning Framework Matrix aligning university and program requirements with learning outcomes and course assessments.  The data will be compiled and organized so that it may be analyzed by faculty, administrators, and staff during Assessment Day in the fall. 

Program Learning Outcomes at Bachelors and Masters levels are evaluated by faculty in major program requirements.  As faculty advise majors, progress in meeting outcomes is assessed.  Capstone experiences in each major provide a formal review of program outcome achievement.  Each program designs its collection and monitoring procedures, and chairs summarize evidence in Annual Reports and provide trend analysis of the results in the 5-year Program Review.

The evidence presented here and in 1P2 demonstrates that we meet Core Component 4B. (covered in 1P2) 

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1R1 Measures of students’ learning and development collected and analyzed regularly


USM faculty measure and collect ULO data across the curriculum as required in their syllabi.  Each department submits data reporting student achievement in courses with ULOs specific to the courses.  To correlate with the CLA, faculty collect data on one ULO by rating achievement using a standard rubric for all freshmen and seniors. (See Link 1P2-1 ULO Rubrics and 1P2-2 Data Point Matrix).   Faculty submit these ratings to the Assessment Committee, which, in turn, summarizes the data.  USM faculty, administration, and staff meet in the fall to compare and analyze ULO, NSSE, and CLA data to ensure that student mastery is achieved in all ULOs.  Areas of improvement are identified and pursued.

With the ALC, the VPAA regularly analyzes the measures of student performance including grade point averages (GPAs), common learning objectives in First Year Experience and Idea Seminars, and achievement on Learning Outcomes – program and university.  GPAs indicate progress on achieving proficiency in Areas of Investigation and in major program requirements and are monitored by advisors and the VPAA on a semester basis.  The registrar calculates high achievement (Dean’s List) and low achievement (Probationary List) rates.  The VPAA recognizes Dean’s List students and refers Probationary List students to the ARC director for follow-up contracts, support, and mentoring.  At the program level, program chairs review GPAs of graduating seniors, and based upon results, improvement goals are established in the annual report. 

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1R2 Performance results for common student learning and development activities


Freshmen and seniors completed the CLA exam during Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 semesters, respectively.  Each student was assigned an Entering Academic Ability (EAA) score, which was determined using their ACT scores and performance on the CLA exam.  USM was provided an institutional report in August 2012, which was based on the performance of these entering and exiting students.  The value added score that USM received indicates the degree to which the observed senior mean CLA score meets, exceeds, or falls below expectations established by 1)  seniors’ EAA scores and 2) the mean CLA performance of freshman, which serves as a control for selection effects not covered by EAA.  

In Fall 2011, USM tested 99 Freshmen from the five sections of FYE in their respective classrooms.   ACT or SAT scores were reported for each of these students.    In February 2012, USM received an institutional report regarding the performance of the freshmen.  (See Link 1R2-1 USM Freshmen CLA Report.)  In Spring 2012, USM tested 72 seniors during Senior Success Day.  Of those, 32 entered USM as freshmen, and 40 were transfer students.  (See Link 1R2-2 USM Institutional CLA Report.)  Furthermore in Spring 2012, 180 USM students responded to the NSSE survey.  Among other things, this survey asks students to reflect on the time they devote to various learning activities, which are linked to student success in college.  (See Link 1R2-3 USM NSSE Results.)  Results from the CLA Reports and the NSSE Report will be shared with faculty during Assessment Day, Fall 2012 where the results will be compared to the internal ULO measure and analyzed.

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1R3 Performance results for specific program learning objectives


It is the practice of USM programs to use a "Multiple Reflective Tier Approach."  Using the established University Learning Outcomes (ULOs), departments align each course to the respective Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) through Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs).  Each CLO is assessed through assignments that are aligned directly to the respective CLO.  These assignments, which take the forms of quizzes, tests, group projects, oral presentations, papers, etc., align to CLOs, which align to PLOs, which align to ULOs.  Each student's grade is a compilation of performance on these required assessments.  So, student grades are a reflection of CLOs, PLOs, and ULOs.  

All departments measure program specific objectives through grades in each of their departmental courses.  In addition, elementary and secondary education programs are required to collect, analyze, and submit PLO data to the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE).  Secondary programs include: biology, chemistry, English, history, math, and theater.  The KSDE Program reports are available in the USM Education Office.

Students in Education, Nursing, and Counseling Psychology Departments take standardized tests to obtain appropriate licensures upon meeting the standards of their profession.  The Education and Nursing Departments receive reports indicating whether students have passed their licensure exams.  These reports are available in the respective departments.

For the Business Department, students are tested using the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE) standards in order to certify that they meet the MBA standards.  See Link 1R3:  IACBE Results for exam data.

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1R4 Evidence that the students completing programs, degrees, and certificates have acquired the knowledge and skills required by stakeholders


Program chairs use standardized test results when available.  Students in licensure programs (e.g., nursing, teaching, counseling) must pass a standardized test for program completion and/or licensure.  Students applying to graduate school take standardized tests (e.g., MCAT, GRE, etc.) and when scores are released to the University, program faculty analyze how the results may impact curriculum.  Acceptance rate to graduate schools is also evidence used to evaluate student preparation.  As a part of the ongoing improvement cycle, this information is reviewed by faculty and chairs in light of program implications. 

The Nursing Program tracks graduates through Educational Benchmarking Incorporated (EBI), www.webebi.com.  See the Nursing Department for this report.  The Education Department tracks graduates to comply with Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) requirements.  See Link 1R4 Institutional Report for Education

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1R5 Performance results for learning support processes


USM administration, faculty, and staff collect a variety of performance results from various programs and interventions that the University is implementing.  Student retention and completion focuses some of the performance results that are collected and are exhibited by the longitudinal data compiled by the registrar’s office.  (See Link 1R5-1:  Freshmen Cohort Retention for freshmen retention data.)  These data track the performance results for the various learning support programs and interventions implemented to increase retention.

USM provides learning supports through the Office of Student Success (OSS), the Academic Resource Center (ARC), and the Advisor System.  The OSS began in the fall of 2011 and has been developing a tracking system to monitor its performance results.  A procedure has been devised to begin collecting data, but it has not yet been analyzed and summarized.  (Link 1R5-2:  Early Alert and Retention Database Description provides an overview of the data to be collected and analyzed by OSS.)  The ARC collects data based on the type of student and assistance offered to students.  (See the attached report Link 1R5-3:  ARC Report for AQIP for complete data.)  The report presents the number of students who received accommodations, tutoring, coordination, and counseling services and an analysis of the time engaged and type of students that staff served.  In addition, the ARC surveyed students to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the services they receive from the ARC and to ascertain whether their academic needs were being met.  (The survey and its results may be found at Link 1R5-4: ARC Survey.)

Because student retention is a concern, USM faculty and staff initiated and implemented in the fall of 2010 the First Year Experience (FYE), which is a sequence of two courses designed to address some of the issues related to retention with special emphasis on learning supports for first year students.  The supports also aim to increase student study skills and to provide an early intervention system in coordination with the OSS.  The performance results are the grades recorded for the FYE classes.  (See Link 1R5-5:  FYE Grades for a summary of FYE Grades from Fall 2010 to Spring 2012).  The report shows that 89% of freshmen are passing the course with just 9% failing and 1% withdrawing.  Within the FYE class the beginning process of student advising is initiated.  In order to ascertain the level of student engagement, the National Student Survey of Engagement (NSSE) is also administered to these students.

DePaul Library measures a wide variety of usage statistics for the library.  Last year, the library circulated 892 books, 136 DVD/Video items, and 1 audio item to 1,234 patrons. This number included 145 items loaned to other libraries through Interlibrary Loan, while USM received 42 items through interlibrary loan for our students, faculty, and staff. That number does not include the items available on reserve in the library, which were collectively used 277 times.  In addition, 15 Information Literacy sessions were taught in USM classes, reaching 364 students.  The USM database usage for last year included a total of 18,236 sessions, 72,019 searches, and the retrieval of 23,064 full text articles. This usage data reflects a 27% increase in sessions and a 23% increase in the retrieval of full text articles over the previous year.   More usage statistics are available in the Director of the Library’s Office. 

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1R6 Results for the performance of processes in Helping Students Learn compared with results of other higher education organizations


Since retention and completion form a major focus, USM compares its results with similar institutions naturally and especially with Kansas Independent Colleges.  The website http://collegecompletion.chronicle.com/ provides comparative national results.  (Please see the attached table of results entitled “Kansas College Completion Rates” which gives graduation rate, completion per 100 students, spending per completion, student aid per recipient, and percent of students with Pell grants, Link 1R6-1 Kansas Graduation Rates Part 1 and Link 1R6-2 Kansas Graduation Rates Part 2.

In order to compare the level of learning achieved by USM students to students nation-wide, the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) was administered for the first time in the fall of 2011 to incoming first year students and in the spring of 2012 to graduating seniors.  (See Link 1R2-2 USM Institutional CLA Report.) 

NSSE was administered to students to compare their engagement with that of college students throughout the country.  (See Link 1R2-3 NSSE Report.)

USM uses results from the National Center for Education Statistics to compare with comparable institutions of higher learning in Kansas regarding student retention and completion.  The link is http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/.

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1I1 Recent improvements made in this category


Using the OGI model, USM analyzes the quantitative and qualitative results at least annually to determine what improvements are necessary. Improvements are implemented and performance is tracked to assess the results of the intervention. Faculty do this each semester after interpreting their course evaluation results. Annual reports are central to ensuring USM processes help students learn. The presentation of findings and the recommendations for improvement come from those closest to and most informed about specific processes and operations. As the Administrative Council summarizes reports annually, it is in a position to ensure overall institutional coordination.

Major activities/accomplishments in this category may be found in Link 1I1: USM Quality Program Summary.   A summary of these improvements follows.

  • AQIP Action Projects were enacted to: identify, evaluate, and prioritize reports and process for informed data decisions; increase USM’s capacity to expand distance learning; reexamine the ARCs effectiveness; and enhance academic advising for greater student success. 

  • The Assessment process was studied, revised, and reformulated to simplify and obtain reliable data to correlate ULO data with CLA data. 

  • One of the most important developments was the creation and implementation of a new Strategic Plan, which can be found at http://www.stmary.edu/aqip/pdf/StrategicPlan-2011.pdf.   The resulting plan is based on three critical issues:  1) health sciences, 2) academic success, and 3)  expansion and upgrade of technology. 

  • Three new programs have been added – Doctor of Physical Therapy, Accelerated Nursing Program, and Healthcare Information Management.  In addition, the music major has been revised and reinstated.

  • Other key improvements in this area include:  extensive review and revision of the assessment process, implementation of First Year Experience, creation of Student Success Office, development of Early Alert System, development of Senior Mentoring System, extensive review and revision of advising process, study to determine effectiveness of Student Life in supporting improved retention and graduation rates, and improved New Faculty and Staff Orientation.

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1I2 How culture and infrastructure help select specific processes to improve and to set targets for improved performance results in Helping Students Learn


The USM culture has been helped by using the OGI model, which links strategic initiatives and annual goals to mission, research, collaborations, actions, evaluation, and improvement. The OGI process utilizes a data-based, collaborative decision making approach. Faculty, staff, and administrators deliberate research-based information in a variety of forums, including departmental meetings, Faculty Senate, and Faculty Institutes.   These bodies identify relevant professional standards (e.g., teaching and learning methodologies or financial stability indicators). Applying these standards to the USM environment yields criteria for effectiveness measures and then relevant and meaningful data points are defined. Information Services staff work with faculty and staff to determine appropriate tools for data collection, leading to either centralized or decentralized collection procedures. Data are generated and results are analyzed in the above mentioned forums.  Findings lead to improvement decisions which establish new goals for ongoing improvement.

Program chairs, with faculty, set targets by analyzing performance results in relation to program and student goals. Monitoring results allows patterns to be examined and to pursue follow-up data collection, if warranted.  Current results and improvement targets are communicated through advising, Academic Leadership Council, Faculty Senate, University Assembly, and Administrative Council to the BOT. Some program results are posted on the USM website and highlighted in the Aspire magazine. Faculty, staff, and students can observe University-wide efforts and can integrate and coordinate efforts where appropriate. Communication vehicles exist to facilitate this, such as an AQIP link on the USM webpage accessible to internal and external stakeholders.

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