ACADEMIC PLANNING COUNCIL
Minutes of February 22, 2010
3 p.m., Holmes Student Center—HSC 505
Present: Alden, Cassidy, Dawson, Erman, Falkoff, Gorman, Gough, Lee, Novak, Prawitz, Ye
Guests: Brad Bond, Acting Dean, Graduate School; Carolinda Douglass, Director, Office of Assessment Services
The meeting was called to order at 3:05 p.m. It was moved and seconded to approve the minutes of November 30, 2009, and the motion passed unanimously.
The next item on the agenda is to elect a representative to the University Assessment Panel (UAP). The APC has two representatives on the UAP; one is elected and one is appointed by the provost. David Gorman was elected last year to serve on the UAP for two years (2009-2010 and 2010-2011), but his APC term is up this year. Andrew Otieno was elected to serve on the UAP, and the Office of the Provost will contact him to see if he is willing to serve.
The APC turned to the 2008-2009 Annual Assessment Update Report. Academic programs are asked every year to provide two methods of assessment and how feedback is used. For the past three years there has been 100 percent compliance in reporting, although some areas are still not reporting the tools and evidence. Some of the evidence is not directly related to the learning outcomes, so the scores in the results section of the update can be higher than the scores in the learning outcomes section. The report criteria include an explanation of assessment methods, student learning outcomes addressed by the methods, evidence of findings, and use of assessment results. The data in the report are also broken down by college. This information is widely distributed across campus and sent to deans, chairs, UAP, and APC, among others. If there are ideas on how the university could use these results, please contact the Office of Assessment Services. A statement will be added to the distribution memo for programs in the College of Health and Human Sciences referring individuals to an electronic site where they can obtain last year’s data if necessary.
The next item on the agenda is the 2009 First Year Composition Assessment Report. This report is an analysis of first year students’ writing abilities. There were 30 students selected at random from English 103 and 104 courses, and the project looked at how students’ writing improved over time. The rubric that was used for the University Writing Project was also used for this project. There was more variance in the 103 papers and less variance in the 104 papers. The mean has gone down, which is not what we want to see. More students met the criteria in 104 than 103 even though the mean score is higher in 103. The previous year’s data were looked at, and the 103 scores were higher this year than last year. The decrease in the 104 scores was not statically significant. There continues to be issues with presentation (grammar, sentence structure, etc.), which was also reported in the University Writing Project analysis. This information is also shared with the General Education Committee and the Department of English. All of the faculty have a role in improving these scores. We are looking for ways to use this feedback, but we need to be cautious because this is only the second year that we have data.
The budget information distributed with the agenda lays out the top three program priority requests for NIU (teacher preparation in STEM areas; web-based, off-campus baccalaureate completion programs for community college students; and nursing and clinical laboratory sciences education). These are needs statewide and for the university. The last page of the handout shows how these priorities fit with the IBHE Public Agenda and the imperatives of NIU’s Strategic Plan. All of these priorities have been brought forward for many years, but we will probably not see money for these priorities this year.
Table A-1 shows the IBHE funding steps. Step 1 is the budget we had this year without the federal stimulus money. Step 2 is essentially the same budget we had this year; no gains and no losses. Step 3 is the budget we had this year with a 2 percent increase, and step 4 is the budget we had this year with a 4 percent increase. Steps 3 and 4 are big dream budgets. It is likely that we will not know what our budget is for FY 2011 until after January 1, 2011.
The state bond rating has decreased over the last several months, and several bills and resolutions have been proposed that will impact higher education. There is a Senate Bill that permits universities to borrow short term. Senate Joint Resolution 88 calls for the Higher Education Finance Commission to study higher education funding in comparison to other states’ institutions. House Joint Resolution 93 would study the feasibility of implementing a performance-based funding system in higher education, and House Bill 4906 calls for the creation of the Accountability in Higher Education Act that would require pubic universities to submit reports on enrollments, tuition and fees, and academic and financial plans with evidence of how these plans meet state goals.
An update on the Strategic Plan was presented. The Strategic Plan is funded by academic surcharges, and the President said that he would protect the strategic planning money at all costs. The four strategic imperatives are to preserve, strengthen, and extend NIU’s teaching and learning environment; invest in multidisciplinary scholarship and artistic clusters; strengthen and extend NIU’s global/regional impact; and make NIU an institution of “first choice” for faculty, students, and staff. The Strategic Plan focus areas related to the strategic imperatives are academic infrastructure, reward and regard, student success, curricular innovation, diversity, accountability and best practices, global impact, outreach (community college partnerships), P-20, health sciences and proton therapy, core user facilities, multidisciplinary clusters, and intercollegiate programs. Details of the focus areas were described with a PowerPoint presentation and in a handout.
The program review guidelines are the next item on the agenda. Every spring the council is asked to make recommendations on the guidelines for the program and center reviews. For programs writing their reviews now we made some changes in the guidelines based on comments that were made by APC members last spring. We are now asking for examples rather than a detailed narrative to direct people to give more specific answers. Are there additional changes that need to be made in the guidelines for programs writing their review in 2011-2012? In Part II, item B when you ask what portion of faculty are actively engaged in scholarship, do you want a number or percentage reported? It is always helpful to present percentages when you talk about numbers and vice versa. We are trying to get some sense of the extent to which the entire faculty are making contributions to scholarship, and this should be reported for the entire review period. Should a specific number of learning outcomes be requested? Some departments over-report on learning outcomes. It would be hard to state a specific number because we are trying to address this from several levels (annual assessment updates, mid-cycle reports, and funding opportunities). We try to help people understand the difference between learning outcomes in emphases or specializations as opposed to program outcomes. The learning outcomes should be measureable at the degree level. We are looking for information on what students know and what they can do when they graduate. In the past, productivity was emphasized as an outcome, but programs that have relatively new assessment plans have stated learning outcomes. Accreditation standards can be different than learning outcomes. The recent issue we have had with program review reports is that there is a lack of experience in writing the reviews, and the writers are trying to get the information just right. This year we are working with chairs who are trying to get a sense of what amount of information should be in the review. In Part B, Section I, item B adding language like “assess and measure growth in” to the statement “How does the program assess and measure growth in the major and build upon the competencies students are expected to acquire in the university’s general education program” would be helpful. In the future plans section the connection between what programs have stated in the early sections of the review needs to be made. This is a fairly common piece of feedback that we give after the summer program review meetings. We ask the writers to go back to sections A and B and report on how areas of strength can be made stronger and how challenges can be addressed in the future plans section. It is important to know how these plans fit with the college priorities. It might be helpful to provide the writers with an example of this section. It might also be helpful if the college wrote this section. If there are any suggestions for wording changes, please send us an email with your suggestions.
The meeting adjourned at 4:50 p.m.