CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY

BACK TO HOME PAGE

Standard 4: The Academic Program  


Description

All of CCSU’s academic programs are consistent with the University’s mission to provide access to higher education to all those who can benefit from our offerings and to provide a high quality education that prepares students to become successful professionals and responsible citizens.

The institution offers  bachelor’s and master’s degrees, sixth-year certificates, and one doctoral degree in the areas of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Professional Studies, and Engineering and Technology.  All programs require at least one year to complete.  In addition, the institution offers one pre-baccalaureate certificate, post-baccalaureate teacher certification programs, post-baccalaureate certificates, and post-master’s certificates. (See Exhibit 4.1: Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs.)

Academic oversight and quality assurance at the institution are provided by a structure of department chairs, deans, faculty governance councils, and the office of Academic Affairs.  Faculty governance includes both school-based governance councils and university-wide academic standards and curriculum committees. 

The coherence of the goals, structure, and content of educational programs is assured by department curriculum committees and subject to review and approval at departmental, school, institutional, system, and state levels. The coherence of policies and procedures for admission and retention are assured by the Office of Admissions and Recruitment and reviewed by the Council of Associate Deans, the Retention and Graduation Council, and the Office of Academic Affairs. The coherence of instructional methods and procedures are assured through evaluations of teaching, which are reviewed at the departmental, school, and university levels. The institution assures coherence in the nature, quality, and extent of student learning and achievement through the articulation and periodic assessment of learning goals for General Education and for academic programs.

All programs meet or exceed institutional standards of quality, which include faculty qualifications, standards of student performance, number of contact hours, student academic support services, graduation requirements, instructional facilities and technology.  Adherence with these standards is ensured by hiring committees, academic administrators, promotion and tenure committees, the Office of Admissions and Recruitment, the Registrar, Information Technology Services, and outside accrediting agencies, as appropriate. 
 

Thirty-eight percent of the institution’s operating budget is spent on direct educational expenditures.  Each department is assigned and administers its own budget. All academic departments submit new budget requests annually, which are evaluated and prioritized by deans, the Provost, and approved by the President. Budget requests must be accompanied by a rationale that references strategic goals. The University Planning and Budget Committee (UPBC), which reports to the Faculty Senate, reviews academic budget requests and makes recommendations to the President regarding allocation of resources on the basis of academic needs and objectives. Request for one-time program enhancements are reviewed annually and funded based on institutional priorities.  Funding and reassigned time are also provided annually to support faculty and curriculum development.

All degree programs are required to specify learning outcomes and academic requirements. As appropriate, these goals focus on the knowledge, intellectual and academic skills, methods of inquiry, values, creative abilities, and professional aptitudes to be mastered.  All program requirements are published in our undergraduate and graduate catalogs, respectively, which are available in both print and online formats. Program requirements are also published on curriculum sheets, which are distributed to all faculty advisors and to advisors in the Advising Center. Learning goals for undergraduate and graduate programs will be published in the next print catalogs.

All degree programs have a coherent curriculum that builds sequentially from a foundation of broad introductory courses and prerequisites to more specialized courses that provide in-depth learning and application. Capstone courses in most programs ensure synthesis of learning.

Academic departments develop proposals for new degree programs, which are submitted to the appropriate academic school for review and approval and then to the University Curriculum Committee for review and approval. All degree proposals are subject to approval by the Faculty Senate, CCSU administration, the CSU System’s Council of Academic Vice Presidents, the Board of Trustees, the State’s Department of Higher Education (DHE), and the Connecticut Board of Governors.  Programs leading to a teaching certification also require approval of the State Department of Education.  All degree programs are overseen and administered by program coordinators or department chairs.  All program modifications are subject to approval by the Curriculum Committee and Senate.  Modifications of 15 credits or more for undergraduate programs and 12 credits or more for graduate programs are subject to further approval by DHE and the Connecticut Board of Governors for Higher Education.

The institution primarily locates academic planning and evaluation in the schools, each of which develops a strategic plan grounded in the institution’s mission and strategic plan.  Academic planning considers the State’s workforce needs and student demand, as evidenced by the development and approval of new baccalaureate degrees in nursing and engineering, the Master of Arts in Teaching, and the proposed sixth-year certificate in Mathematics Educational Leadership. Each school’s strategic plan reflects the mission and programmatic directions of academic departments.

Each academic department submits an annual report to the Dean, which is forwarded to the Provost. These reports include reviews of academic programs (curricular changes, academic advising, special initiatives, program assessment); faculty and student accomplishments, awards, and achievements;   outreach and community service; personnel; facilities, budgets and institutional support, and conclude with a section on planning for the next year. (See Exhibits in 2.8.)

 

Program evaluation includes annual monitoring of enrollment trends in specific majors.  Programs are benchmarked with peer institutions using the Delaware Study of Faculty Cost and Productivity.   Accredited programs in all schools are reviewed on a regular cycle by national accrediting bodies.  Among CCSU’s programs that are accredited by professional organizations, such as NCATE, ABET, and a myriad of others, learning outcomes are specifically aligned with standards maintained by those accreditors to promote seamless integration into these professional career tracks.

All new programs (including advanced degrees, programs overseas, and distance learning)  and substantive changes in programs (including program eliminations) undergo extensive review to ensure that they are consistent with the university mission, faculty expertise, student needs, and available resources; and that they will meet the institution’s and NEASC’s standards of quality. Program additions or substantive changes are initiated first by the faculty and then vetted through the curriculum committee process.  All new programs also need to be approved internally by the Dean(s) and the Provost and also by the CFO, and finally by the President, to assure that they meet academic standards and have the necessary allocation of resources.  Appropriate paperwork that follows Department of Higher Education guidelines is prepared and sent to the Council of Academic Vice Presidents at the CSUS office when approved internally. Proposed new programs go through an extensive review process culminating in approval by the Board of Governors (see “Steps for Processing a New Program”). Several new programs have been implemented including the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, M.S. degrees in Data Mining and Engineering Technology; M.A. degrees in Information Design and Public History. The Ed.D. and online MS in Data Mining programs were submitted to NEASC for approval since they involved a major institutional change.

 

Proposals for higher level degree programs incorporate appropriate budget requests and may entail charging a higher tuition. Because courses in such programs demand a low faculty-to-student ratio, they are more carefully reviewed from both an academic and resource-allocation standpoint. The Graduate Studies Committee, composed of elected faculty representatives from departments offering graduate programs, is responsible for most of this review.

 

Low productivity programs are reviewed by the State Department of Higher Education every year, with a list sent to the President for review. These programs are presented to the Curriculum Committee and Senate for elimination or explanation of why the program ought to be maintained. Additionally, the University Curriculum Committee reviews courses for possible elimination based on lack of demand or a long interval since a course was last offered. This review is reported to the Faculty Senate.

 

The institution ensures that all students enrolled in programs facing substantive revision or elimination have the opportunity to complete the degree with appropriate accommodations and a minimum of disruption.  For example, students in the recently suspended MBA program were provided the opportunity to complete their degree requirements within a reasonable time and with minimal course substitution.  Students may also opt to have a Special Studies Major or select a new program of study.

 

Undergraduate Degree Programs

A total of 44-46 credits in General Education studies must be completed as part of all baccalaureate degree programs. Majors are typically 30 to 40 credits, and most programs also require a minor or concentration (18 to 24 credits) or professional component (e.g., internship). Most bachelor’s degree programs require 122 credits for graduation. Bachelor’s degrees in education and engineering technology require 130 credits, and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing requires 125 credits.

 

Program rationales are clearly stated in the undergraduate catalog.  Curricular requirements and sequencing are clearly outlined in program advising sheets. Students can track academic progress or run “What if” scenarios through online degree audits.  All programs provide depth and breadth within the discipline through coursework ranging from introductory to advanced, with appropriate prerequisites. With the exception of some professional and accredited programs, students have the opportunity to take unrestricted electives.

 

General Education

The General Education program clearly and explicitly articulates the characteristics of an educated person who is prepared for the demands of leading a productive life in the global society of the 21st century.  The program provides students with the foundation for life-long learning as rational members of society.  Because major programs build on General Education, students must develop basic competencies to complete a major program successfully.  These objectives, which are presented in the undergraduate catalog, inform the structure, content, and assessment of the program. 

The General Education program is organized within four Study Areas: Arts & Humanities (9 credits, 3 must be in literature); Social Sciences (9 credits, 3 must be in history); Behavioral Sciences (6 credits); and Natural Sciences (6-7 credits).   

 

CCSU’s General Education program also requires proficiency in four “Skill Areas,” which include Communication Skills (6 credits, 3 must be composition), Mathematics (6 credits), foreign language proficiency (6 credits or equivalent), and personal wellness and fitness (2-3 credits). Beyond the formal study and skill areas, at least six credits of a student's undergraduate program must carry the International (I) designator.

Every incoming student is expected to take one First-Year Experience (FYE) course, which is intended to build connections between faculty and students, facilitate the student’s transition to higher education, improve learning skills, and to clarify the mission, the organization, and the curriculum for students.   In addition, to help students experience connections among disciplines, CCSU has implemented the Learning in Communities (LinC) project. The LinC initiative aims to engage students more fully in General Education by enabling them to experience connections between or among disciplines.  The LinC initiative allows faculty to pair 100-level courses around some common theme or assignments. 

The CCSU Honors program provides an alternative approach to General Education that explicitly seeks to clarify relationships among disciplines through interdisciplinary courses, team-taught by faculty from different departments.  These courses—on Western cultures, world cultures, critical thinking, and science and society—focus students on the relationship between argumentation and inquiry in liberal education.  The Honors program culminates in a junior-year thesis, which many students use as a bridge from their General Education program to their major.

The General Education objectives, content, and courses are reevaluated every other year by the General Education Subcommittee, which includes faculty representatives from the disciplines in the study and skill areas and from each school in the University.  Any changes that are recommended by the Subcommittee are subject to a formal review by the Curriculum Committee and the Faculty Senate and must be approved by the President.   The General Education Subcommittee reviews and recommends approval of requests for course changes or changes in the General Education program that are consistent with stated objectives of the program.

 

The Major or Concentration

All majors require a sequence of courses from foundational to upper-level.  All majors have curriculum maps showing progression through sequenced courses. Many of the majors have a capstone course. All B.A., B.S. and B.S.ED programs, regardless of major, involve a series of sequential courses that provide students with relevant knowledge germane to their discipline.  In addition to discipline-specific coursework, many programs require students to take a number of related requirements in other departments to provide the necessary skills for success in pursuit of their major.  Often, these related requirements also satisfy areas within the General Education program (Exhibit 4.2).

All programs are based on clear and articulated learning objectives that include command of content knowledge, mastery of theories and research methodologies and resources, and development of best practices. Through prerequisites, related requirements and learning objectives, each program is structured to encourage understanding of the structure of knowledge for an area of inquiry.  The understanding of interrelatedness depends upon the nature of the major; in general, small majors (30-39 credits) require an additional course of study in a minor, while large majors (over 42 credits) do not require a minor.  As noted previously, many majors have related requirements outside the discipline that serve as prerequisites for upper-level courses within the major.

 

All professionally oriented programs also emphasize the development of a professional identity and appropriate aptitudes. These are instilled through field-based experiences in many courses and programs, capstone courses, and internships and cooperative education. The institution provides clear guidelines and instructional support for all clinical and field placement experiences (Exhibit 4.3).  Regular consultation with Program Advisory Boards composed of practicing professionals ensures the relevance of the curriculum. Most of CCSU’s professional programs are accredited, which includes systematic evaluation of each program’s conformity with the highest standards associated with the discipline.

 

Graduate Degree Programs

The curricula of graduate programs are sequential in design, starting with foundational material and progressing to more complex concepts and application.  Programs are guided by the Graduate School’s five core tenets: Community of Scholars, Scholarly Inquiry, Intellectual and Personal Integrity, Excellence, and Leadership. Master’s degree programs require a minimum of 30 credits. The Ed.D. requires 63 credits. There is no minimum credit requirement for certificate programs.

Each graduate program’s rationale, learning outcomes, curriculum, and requirements are described in the School of Graduate Studies catalog (See Exhibit 4.1). Degree requirements are a reflection of the specific program’s purpose/rationale and the learning outcomes considered essential by the graduate program.  These are infused into a given student’s curriculum through the Planned Program of Study, which is a written document outlining the courses to be taken by the student to complete his or her program.  All courses that are part of a planned program of study teach students conceptual knowledge of paradigms, theories, or models specific to their discipline (Exhibit 4.4). 

Professional graduate programs (such as Marriage and Family Therapy and Nursing Anesthesia) and practice-oriented programs (such as Art Education and Teacher Education) are accredited by external agencies (e.g., NCATE), and their coursework and requirements are aligned to national standards.  Some programs within the School of Education and Professional Studies require students to take coursework that leads toward conceiving and implementing action research to develop the analytical and professional skills needed to advance the profession.  Other master’s programs introduce students to the field through internships, clinical practica, and other experiential learning opportunities. Examples are illustrated on the following web pages

Research methods courses are required in all graduate programs and are tailored to the unique needs of their respective discipline. Research skills are integrated into the sequence of courses and are utilized in the preparation of master’s theses and special projects.  The Ed.D. program includes research methods coursework in the first and second years.  These are applied through an extended action research project (a field study), which is similar in structure to and prepares the students for a dissertation.

Graduate students must also complete a capstone requirement.  The capstone is designed to provide an assessment of the graduate program’s core learning objectives.  Master’s degree capstones may take the form of a thesis, special project, or comprehensive exam.  Capstone handbooks for the master’s thesis and special project have been developed, are updated regularly, and made available in hard copy as well as on the School of Graduate Studies webpage. Some programs require an oral defense in addition to a written manuscript (Exhibit 4.5).

At the doctoral level, core learning objectives are assessed by a two–pronged process. First, students submit an electronic portfolio that addresses core learning objectives and serves as the comprehensive examination, which is assessed by a committee of reviewers.  Second, students complete a dissertation, which is also assessed by a committee of reviewers as well as the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. Expectations for the doctoral cohort are fully explained during their summer orientation as well as in the packets they receive (Exhibit 4.6).

Dissemination of student research occurs through a variety of avenues.  Abstracts of completed theses are available online through the library’s Web site.  In addition to the library archiving all theses, students may elect to have their full theses published on line, which has been available since 2002; as of fall 2007 students completing special projects may also elect on line publication.   Students are encouraged to publish or present their research on campus through the Graduate Research and Creative Presentation event (Exhibit 4.7) and at regional, and national conferences; their accomplishments are listed on the graduate website.  Students in the Ed.D. program must complete the requirements of the Dissemination Seminar, which includes developing a plan for sharing the results of their dissertation research and producing two artifacts: one focused on sharing the research with the scholarly community and one that shares the research with the world of practice. The dissertation is disseminated to external audiences in the last summer of their program.

Quality assurance in CCSU’s graduate education begins with the development of a graduate program and is present in ongoing administrative and academic policies and procedures. Graduate programs are not offered unless their rationale and requirements have been reviewed internally and then approved by the Connecticut Department of Higher Education and Connecticut State University Board of Trustees.  Information on the graduate school mission, programs, policies, and requirements are available in the Graduate Studies catalog, the School of Graduate Studies Policy Handbook (Exhibit 4.8) and webpage. Faculty of graduate programs are responsible for assessing selected learning outcomes annually, and reporting the results of the assessment to the Dean along with a plan to address the results of the assessment.  Changes in graduate programs must be reviewed and approved by the Dean and Graduate Studies Committee.

 The information and physical resources expected for graduate programs exceed those required for undergraduate programs.  Graduate programs require access to specialized journals and other technical scholarly materials. Similarly, graduate courses often require specialized software and technology for classroom instruction and student presentations. The master’s degree and official certificate program in data mining occur entirely in an online environment. 

CCSU does not specifically distinguish graduate from undergraduate faculty. However, the faculty members who administer graduate programs are full time, and all full-time faculty must engage in scholarly activity in order to achieve promotion and tenure (examples of faculty scholarship and creative activity can be found in the University’s Annual Report). In addition, faculty who teach graduate courses must possess a terminal degree in their field of study or obtain special approval from their chair, dean of their academic school and Dean, School of Graduate Studies.

Admission to a graduate program is ultimately decided by the individual program, but is based upon standard criteria established across graduate programs.  The Ed.D. admits a cohort of students, approximately 25, every two years and requires, among other materials, the GRE as part of their admission criteria (Exhibit 4.9). The activities and academic standards of graduate students are distinct from those of the undergraduate students.  Graduate programs and courses, by their nature, are more specialized and complex than undergraduate programs and courses, requiring reading, writing, and analytical tasks beyond those expected at the undergraduate level. Depending upon the specific program, graduate students may be expected to demonstrate competence in the use of specialized computer software or technology, engage in supervised professional activities, and conduct independent research projects.  Graduate students are expected to maintain a 3.00 GPA, and risk dismissal should they fail to do so.

No graduate program may allow more than nine credits of 400-level coursework to be counted toward a graduate degree. Furthermore, in order for 400-level coursework to be counted toward a graduate degree, the 400 level course must have been approved for inclusion in the graduate catalog and graduate students utilize a separate syllabus from those of the undergraduate students. Graduate student syllabi in 400-level coursework reflect readings and assignments more advanced than undergraduate level coursework. Thus, even in those instances when graduate students are in 400-level courses, they must complete graduate-level coursework (Exhibit 4.10).

Integrity in the Award of Academic Credit

CCSU offers the following degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology, Bachelor of Science in Education, Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology, Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), Master of Business Administration (temporarily suspended), Doctor of Education, and 6th year certificates in Reading and Educational Leadership. The names, length and content of degree programs are consistent with other accredited institutions of higher education. Several degree programs are subject to outside accreditation to ensure that they are consistent with national standards. Twelve non-degree graduate-level programs leading to a certificate are also offered. Teacher certification programs are also offered at the post-baccalaureate level. All have undergone university curricular review. 

Courses are described in course catalogs available in print (See Exhibit 4.1) and online.  The catalog is regularly monitored at the institutional level via the University Curriculum Committee and also at the departmental and academic affairs levels to assure catalog accuracy.

The faculty and administration are responsible for developing and overseeing all policies regarding the award of credit and for ensuring that that there is demonstrable academic content for all experiences for which credit is awarded. All policies regarding the award of credit must be approved by the University Curriculum Committee, Faculty Senate, Academic Deans, and the President. Some programs require internships or service learning as part of graduation requirements and, as such, have established courses (or course requirements) that have undergone the appropriate curricular review process at the department and/or university level. Credit for study abroad, internships or independent study that are not part of a regular course offering must be approved by the department chair and academic dean(s) (see Exhibit 4.11, Independent Study Course Registration Form). Faculty supervising such credit must demonstrate that the experience is appropriate to the field of study, and that the content and level of student learning is commensurate with the credits being awarded. 

The Office of the Registrar issues official transcripts of credit earned at the University. The office maintains all student academic records and certifies students’ completion of degree requirements. The registrar conducts degree evaluations for Undergraduate students; graduate degree evaluations are conducted by the School of Graduate Studies.

CCSU retains responsibility for the design, content, and delivery of courses for which it awards academic credit or degrees. The University Curriculum Committee provides oversight for all curriculum matters involving undergraduate and graduate programs.  The AAUP contract requires faculty to provide students a course syllabus outlining the learning objectives, course expectations and grading policy. The Grade Appeals Policy further ensures that faculty clearly state criteria for assigning grades and awarding course credit.

The undergraduate and graduate catalogs describe policies regarding degree requirements; academic misconduct; academic probation and dismissal standards; readmission to the University; the fresh-start policy; remedial coursework; and non-collegiate training programs. A Banner user account with access to Curriculum Advising and Program Planning (CAPP) provides electronic identification of individual degree requirements and is available to students, faculty and administration.  Consistent enforcement of graduation requirements is assured through the degree-audit process conducted by the Office of the Registrar or Graduate School Office. Any substitutions to degree requirements must be authorized by the chair of the department in which the program resides, the chair of the department offering the required course, and the dean of the school offering the program. This audit process also ensures that degrees accurately reflect student attainment.

Most courses are offered in traditional 16-week semesters, but some courses are offered in abbreviated time periods (summer and winter sessions) and through distance learning.  Courses offered in abbreviated time periods follow the same standards for quality as courses meeting in a regular semester.  The Office of Continuing Education, which oversees courses offered during abbreviated time periods, ensures that faculty contact hours are consistent with courses held during the traditional semester. With the exception of CCSU’s one approved online program in Data Mining, online courses were only offered during winter and summer sessions through the 2007-08 year. However, in fall 2007, the Faculty Senate approved the development of pilot online courses to be offered in AY 2008-09. These courses will be subject to the same academic standards and requirements as apply to on-ground courses.

The Criminology department offers some courses each semester at Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC) as part of a legislative initiative to offer more baccalaureate level courses in the Waterbury area. These courses maintain the same standards as those offered on campus, and are the same as course offerings on campus.  

CCSU has partnerships with Sam Sharpe Teacher’s College, Montego Bay, Jamaica and MICO Teacher’s College, Kingston, Jamaica, to offer graduate courses to Jamaican faculty interested in pursuing an M.S. in Educational Leadership or Reading and Language Arts. Of the 30 credits required for the program, 15 are completed in Jamaica and the rest at CCSU. All courses are taught by CCSU faculty. (See “Off Campus Programming: Additional Instructional Location” addendum.)

The M.S. in Data Mining is CCSU’s only online degree program. Courses in the MS in Data Mining were developed by full-time on-campus faculty. A faculty coordinator is responsible for oversight of the program, and the Dean and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs are responsible for the academic quality of distance education programming. (See Report on the Establishment of Academic Programming Offered Through Distance Education).

 

The School of Graduate Studies offers twelve Official Certificate Programs (OCPs) (Exhibit 4.12). All have undergone university curricular review.  All programs require that students have already completed their baccalaureate degrees but vary in specific admissions criteria. 

The Office of Recruitment and Admissions evaluates all transfer credits from other institutions for undergraduate students. A list of courses that have been approved for transfer by individual programs is maintained by Admissions.  CCSU maintains a searchable transfer equivalency Web page where prospective transfer students can determine which credits will likely transfer upon matriculation.

 

The Office of Academic Articulations and Partnerships coordinates relationships between CCSU and community colleges to facilitate and support student transfers. Articulation agreements (Exhibit 4.13) between CCSU and the community colleges facilitate the admission and registration of transfer students; CCSU currently has nine program-to-program articulations and one general program articulation for the transfer of selected associate's degree programs as minors for degree programs in the school of Arts and Sciences.  The Connecticut State University System has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Connecticut Community College System, which stipulates that each of the four Connecticut State Universities will develop a Dual Admission Agreement with its primary feeder community colleges; CCSU is currently in the process of developing such an agreement with six community colleges. In the case where a transfer course does not have an equivalency at CCSU, students may be granted credit toward general electives or may consult with individual programs to identify course equivalencies. Transfer courses that do not have demonstrable academic content may not be accepted.

 

The Office of Recruitment and Admissions is responsible for evaluating and awarding credit for prior learning.   No credit toward graduation is awarded for pre-collegiate level or remedial work designed to prepare students for collegiate study.  CCSU does, however, award credit for college-level work completed prior to matriculation. These include credit for Advanced Placement (AP) and College Level Examination Program (CLEP) equivalencies, as well as course work completed through the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) and the Connecticut Collegiate Awareness and Preparation Program (ConnCAP).

Credit for prior experiential or non-collegiate sponsored learning is awarded on a limited basis, following clear policies for the award of such credit.  Credit may be awarded for military service schools, and international course work may be accepted as transfer credit based on review by appropriate external institutions.  Academic departments have discretion as to whether specific credits can be applied to fulfill degree requirements for their programs.
 

For CCSU’s undergraduate programs, a minimum of 45 credits in residence is required toward the bachelor’s degree.  The University’s required residency credits exceed NEASC’s residency requirements across all bachelor’s degrees offered.  Further, students transferring credits from other colleges are required to take at least 15 credits in their major field and nine credits in their minor (or concentration) field at CCSU.  Major and minor minimum credit totals are included in the 45-credit residence requirement.  “In residence” means attending classes conducted on the CCSU campus or under the supervision of the University.

 

A number of individual departments and majors also apply their own quality control standards.  The School of Business, for instance, requires that students complete 30 credits of course work within the academic school at CCSU and, of those 30 credits, take a minimum of 18 credits in upper-division courses at the 300-400 level.  Undergraduate programs in the School of Education and Professional Studies, which prepare students for teacher certification, utilize a rigorous acceptance process that occurs upon completion of 45 credits (including 15 credits from CCSU) as well as a number of other testing, GPA, and portfolio requirements.  Minors offered by CCSU’s four academic schools in various fields generally include at least 9-12 credits of upper-division (300-400 level) courses.

The amount of coursework transferable to a graduate degree program is limited to a maximum of nine credits for programs requiring 30 to 35 credits or 25 percent of the total credits for programs requiring 36 credits or more, excluding any of the program’s prerequisite courses.  Graduate degree capstone courses (i.e., theses and special projects) must be taken under the supervision of the University.  Students seeking to transfer to a graduate degree program must also meet a stringent set of criteria

The University does not presently have any agreements with non-collegiate institutions that allow for recognition and transfer of credit.  Similarly, “continuing education units” (CEU’s) are not transferred to graduate degree programs or applied toward the completion of graduate degree requirements.

 

Assessment of Student Learning

Faculty have the primary responsibility for determining and evaluating student learning outcomes. On an annual basis, departments provide a report that includes a list of learning outcomes for graduates of their program, the findings from their evaluation of student learning, an analysis of what these results mean, and how these results have been used to make curricular or programmatic adjustments.

 

The institution’s recently released policy on assessment gives faculty in each credential granting program, in accordance with the standards in their fields of study, the responsibility for identifying the cognitive, behavioral and affective outcomes they deem most important for students to master as a result of completing the program. As of summer 2008, we have 50 out of 54 undergraduate degree programs with learning outcomes identified, and 37 out of 37 graduate degree programs with learning outcomes identified.

The online assessment survey has required departments to indicate how assessment findings will be used to make improvements or adjustments to their programs. In most cases, the reported changes involve a curricular adjustment to address a targeted aspect of student learning. For instance, as a result of assessment findings, the Department of Modern Languages redesigned its ML 598 Research in Modern Languages course to guide their students in the process of formulating a thesis plan. In another instance, the undergraduate program in Biomolecular Sciences adjusted its laboratory experiences to place more emphasis on why each step in an experiment is performed rather than providing student with a set of “cookbook directions.”

Faculty monitor student learning in their programs to assure that the level of student achievement is appropriate for the degree awarded. Students who fail to meet the minimum standards for performance set by the faculty are not allowed to graduate.

To facilitate assessment activities on campus, the institution has developed an online system to easily report assessment findings. We have hired a director of Institutional Research and Assessment to lead future developments of the assessment system, and the institution funds faculty travel to assessment-related conferences as well as to sponsor assessment conferences on campus. A CSU System Annual Assessment Conference has been held on alternating campuses since 2003.  In April, 2006 CCSU hosted the conference with Dr. Peggy Maki as the keynote speaker.  Faculty from CCSU as well as the other universities presented their assessment projects from CSUS grants they received (Exhibit 4.14). The availability of these system-wide grants for assessment has provided the basis for multiple assessment projects in all of the schools on campus. Reports of CCSU faculty assessment projects funded by CSUS grants can be viewed at their Web site.

The institution evaluates student learning at multiple levels including in individual courses, academic programs, and institution wide. At the course level, faculty evaluate student learning on a regular basis. At the program level, data from the online assessment survey are analyzed on a regular basis at least once per year and used to make programmatic improvements. At the institutional level, analyses of outcomes from General Education assessments are reviewed by the Academic Assessment Committee. When results of student learning assessment indicate areas of weakness, then adjustments are considered. Additional institution-wide indicators of student learning include retention rates, graduation rates, GPA, and other indicators of academic progress.

There have been multiple efforts to assess elements of General Education.  For several years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, CCSU used the ETS Academic Profile.  Because the Academic Profile was insufficiently diagnostic, the University, led by the Academic Assessment Team, opted to develop its own set of measures rooted in local practice.  Some of these instruments were used in the summer and fall of 2007, and are continuing to be refined and developed. 

In the early part of the decade, administrative responsibility for assessment was housed with the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs. Beginning in 2007-2008 the University created the position of Director of Institutional Research and Assessment, who reports directly to the Provost and now serves as the institution’s Chief Assessment Officer. The administration has made a commitment to increasing support in terms of data management, assessment design, and grant and award funding for assessment initiatives. Additionally, the institution, in conjunction with the faculty, has developed a formal policy for academic assessment that outlines a central role for a faculty-based academic assessment committee to help shape assessment practices.

Each year, academic programs have been asked to report to the Office of Academic Affairs about the extent to which students in their program have demonstrated competency in learning outcomes determined by the faculty in the program. Through 2006-07, these results were reviewed by the Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, and the findings were summarized in annual Accountability Reports provided to the Department of Higher Education via the CSU System Office (See Exhibit 2.4).

Improvement in the assessment of student learning has been prioritized by the University, as evidenced by its prominent inclusion in the Strategic Plan as Objective 1.1 to “Identify student learning outcomes for General Education, undergraduate majors, graduate majors and co-curricular activities; establish their integration in the curriculum; and implement outcomes-based assessment for all courses, programs, and student academic support services to promote continuous improvement.”

In 2007-08, an official policy on academic assessment was approved by the Faculty Senate to formalize this process. This policy will require departments to provide an annual report that includes:

·         a list of the learning outcomes for graduates of their program,

·         the findings from their evaluation of student learning in their academic programs and in General Education courses offered by their department,

·         an analysis of what these results mean, including an identification of students’ strengths and weaknesses, and

·         a description of how these results have been used to make curricular or programmatic adjustments.

 

These reports will be placed on a secure website accessible to faculty and administrators. Following the principle of peer review and to identify promising assessment practices, the Academic Assessment Committee will provide feedback and support to departments by reviewing these reports on a multi-year cycle.

 

The institution employs a variety of quantitative and qualitative measures to understand and improve student experiences and learning outcomes. In addition to the program-specific assessment practices described above, CCSU has a structured assessment system that measures student outcomes from before students enter the institution to beyond graduation. Centrally administered instruments include:

·         CIRP Freshman Survey, administered during new student orientation,

·         NSSE, administered to seniors and freshmen in the spring semester,

·         CLA (pilot in 2007-08), administered to a sample of freshmen in the fall and a sample of seniors in the spring,

·         SSI, administered though Student Affairs every other year to all students,

·         CSU System Recent Alumni survey, administered in the year following graduation.

 

Results from these institution-wide instruments are analyzed by the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA) and significant findings, are disseminated widely to campus constituencies. Results are also posted on the OIRA Web site.

 

Appraisal

General Education

The General Education Subcommittee is currently completing a review of the program objectives, and is considering splitting objective 2: “To develop and enhance global awareness, civic responsibility, appreciation of cultural diversity and historical awareness,” into two distinct objectives: one that emphasizes global and historical understanding and the other that combines appreciation of diversity and civic responsibility.  This change has been initiated due to a widespread perception and community sentiment that the University needs to strengthen its diversity initiatives.  Currently, there are a variety of suggestions to expand or augment courses that would strengthen students’ appreciation of diversity and sense of civic responsibility. In addition, the Subcommittee has noted that cultivating “information literacy” has not been identified as a specific objective of the General Education program. While learning outcomes for General Education are published in the catalog, learning outcomes for undergraduate programs are not widely disseminated.

Significant progress over the last two years has been made in assessing General Education.  Strategies for assessing critical thinking, mathematics, personal health and fitness, scientific inquiry, foreign language ability, verbal communication, and writing have been initiated.  Some of these assessment efforts are stronger, more sustained, and more robust than others, and work still needs to be done to make the assessment of General Education more systematic and routine. 

The General Education program must balance the need to accommodate a large number of transfer students, many of whom come to CCSU after completing an Associate’s degree at community colleges, with a substantive program that furthers the particular mission of the institution.  This combination of flexibility and substantive strength in the liberal arts within the General Education program was cited by the Association of American Colleges and Universities as one of the reasons why CCSU was named one of 16 “Leadership Institutions” in 2000.

Despite the curricular strengths of our General Education program, one of the most frequent academic complaints from students is that there are insufficient courses offered for them to graduate in a timely manner, including General Education courses, prerequisites, and entrance-to-major courses. Results from the 2006 Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) are indicative of this complaint. Two questions pertaining to the availability of classes ranked fourth and sixth in regard to the mismatch between students’ ratings of importance and satisfaction. Course cancellation policies, which require the cancellation of courses with fewer than ten enrolled students two weeks prior to the beginning of the semester, contribute to this problem.  Also, up until fall 2008, only about two thirds of incoming students had been able to register for an FYE course in their first semester, as there had not been a sufficient number of sections to accommodate all students.  However, approximately 90% of first year students are enrolled in an FYE course for fall 2008.

Another challenge pertains to changing needs and demands of the students. Students may change from part-time to full-time status each semester and transfer students are admitted on a continuous basis, even days before the start of classes. Students also may change their major partway through their degree, which results in them having to take a disproportionate number of classes in one area, with insufficient classes to meet this demand. Many students also have non-curricular obligations (e.g., jobs, family, sports) that may limit their schedules to courses offered at particular times. Courses may not be offered at enough different times to fit their schedules. All of these challenges deserve further exploration to ensure that course offerings are sufficient to allow students to graduate in a timely fashion. It is not clear if Ad Astra, the new course scheduling software, will be able to address all these challenges.

 

Graduate Degree Programs

There is an expectation that students will find the requirements for the various programs, as well as their learning outcomes, in graduate school publications. While each graduate program’s requirements are printed in the graduate catalog, it was not until the 2008-2010 catalog that each program’s rationale and learning outcomes were available for programs and consistently represented. The website is also being updated to reflect program rationale and learning outcomes for every program.  There is concern that graduate students may be confused because all 400 level courses are listed on the CCSU website  leading them to be unclear about which courses are available for graduate credit. 

Concerns have been raised that insufficient financial resources are available for graduate students.  Some students reported that the cost of their program prevented them from completing their degree in a timely manner. Of particular concern to the doctoral program is the fact that tuition and fees for doctoral study at CCSU have exceeded costs for study at the University of Connecticut and the University of Hartford for several years.  Although tuition costs for fewer than 10 credits are comparable to those charged by the University of Connecticut and the University of Hartford, our tuition and fees for over ten credits are approximately 10% higher than those of our competitors. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some of our students have chosen other institutions for financial reasons.

The doctoral student dissemination requirement has produced strong examples of work being presented to national conferences including AERA and IRA, and some writing for publication (Exhibit 4.15). Because the dissemination requirement is so unusual and provides such an excellent opportunity for external review of the quality of doctoral student work, the doctoral program should generate regular reports about student success that can be shared with the campus community and beyond.

Concerns have been raised that the comprehensive exam process for masters degree students has not been consistently administered and evaluated across programs. To address this concern, the Graduate Studies Committee worked with the Dean to develop guidelines for the comprehensive examination capstone. A handbook was developed for graduate students and sent to all departments offering the examination as the capstone during the summer 2008 (Exhibit 4.16). Also, until recently there had not been a standardized mechanism to assess the degree to which learning outcomes were met through the capstone projects.  In 2007 a rubric was developed and approved by the Graduate Studies Committee for assessing the thesis or special project.  Faculty are expected to use the rubric to assist in their assessment of the graduate program.  The rubric is generally forwarded to the Dean along with the other required materials (Exhibit 4.17).

Graduate students are systematically surveyed following graduation to assess their acquisition of learning objectives and skills.  The return rate of surveys sent to all graduating students has been too low to generalize to the graduate student population.  However, the survey did not reveal any areas of specific concerns.  While individual programs may gather data independently, these findings are not typically shared across the Graduate School.

A major concern facing the School of Graduate Studies has been the steady decline in the admission of part-time graduate students. In recent years, this decline can be partly attributed to the suspension of admissions to the MBA program, but this is not the only cause. The other three Connecticut State Universities have been experiencing a comparable decline.

 

Integrity in the Award of Academic Credit

The University Curriculum Committee posts all proposed curriculum changes and keeps records of all actions on its website. All forms and procedures for submitting changes also are available online. This process allows all potential stakeholders to have an input in course content. The curriculum review process is considered a strength of the University.

However, problems have resulted for students from the failure to communicate curricular changes effectively. On occasion, curriculum sheets have not been systematically updated and shared with advisors beyond the originating department, which has resulted in students being misadvised by dedicated advisors in the schools and in the Advising Center. Concerns have also been raised that departments considering curricular revisions have not sufficiently considered and adequately consulted others about the impact of proposed changes in the curriculum on other programs and departments.

Department Evaluation Committees are expected to review evaluations of teaching and incorporate feedback in annual reviews. DECs may also review course materials (e.g., syllabi, assignments, exams) and conduct independent observations of faculty teaching as part of their evaluations, but these are not required contractually.  Concerns have been raised that the DECs seldom present negative evaluations of faculty, which implies that DECs typically interpret their role as champions of their departmental colleagues.

Given that 71% of undergraduate students transfer in some credits from other institutions, it is difficult to establish a sufficient number of transfer equivalency and articulation agreements to cover all possible transfer courses from all potential transfer institutions. CCSU, however, maintains updated equivalency banks for the Connecticut community colleges and the other three CSU institutions, from which most students transfer.

 

Assessment of Student Learning

Expectations for the assessment of student learning have been in place since 1999 when the institution began a formal process to determine and collect learning outcomes from academic programs.  The electronic system by which these data were collected, however, has not produced robust enough information to reliably track assessment related improvements. To that end, the institution has adopted a formal policy on assessment and developed specific guidelines for academic programs to provide annual reports to faculty, their dean(s), the Office of Academic Affairs, and the campus-wide Academic Assessment Committee. Further, the Academic Assessment Committee has been given a formal charter to review assessment reports from departments as well as to coordinate the assessment of General Education and to identify outstanding or promising assessment practices to make recommendations for awards or grant funding, when available.

While there are documented instances that some departments systematically review assessment results and use the findings for improvement, departmental submissions to the annual assessment survey suggest that the quality of these practices varies significantly. These self-reported results about departmental progress on implementing a robust assessment system suggest that the quality of assessment systems for understanding student learning is still uneven. Further, the institutional review process for assessment has not provided feedback to departments, but rather only asked them to respond to a brief survey once a year. The absence of a feedback loop in the institutional review process may account for some of this variation in assessment practices. While assessment, analysis, and improvement occur at the course, program, and institutional levels, it is not clear that the information is integrated or woven into a complete picture of how students learn.

Faculty regularly adjust their courses based on their appraisal of how well students mastered the material. At the program level, assessment results are reviewed by faculty in the program who make programmatic or curricular adjustments based on assessment results. These adjustments are reported on an annual basis through the online assessment survey. Use of results to make adjustments to the General Education curriculum has been more challenging. The assessment committee has conducted numerous pilot assessment projects, but coordinating a concerted assessment of General Education has remained elusive.

In instances where programs are externally accredited, which includes most programs in the School of Education and Professional Studies and the School of Engineering and Technology, programs are reviewed by visiting teams to satisfy accreditation requirements. The School of Business is pursuing accreditation through AACSB, and several programs in the School of Arts and Sciences are also externally accredited. To date, only accredited programs systematically include external teams in their program reviews.

The University’s success is well documented by its track record of graduates gaining employment in the State and the region. Surveys of recent graduates conducted by the CSU system office indicate that fewer than 4% of CCSU graduates are unemployed and looking for work one year following graduation, the lowest rate in the CSU system. Additionally, 92% of CCSU’s graduates who attend graduate school report they are very satisfied or satisfied with the preparation they received for their graduate programs (2006 CSUS Survey of Recent Graduates).

Recent changes in the approach to assessment have been made because assessment has not yet been seamlessly woven into campus life. The Academic Assessment Committee has worked largely in isolation, and individual departments have largely worked independently. Additionally, the University has not found an effective way of directing appropriate resources toward assessment activities. The changes in the approach to assessment have the strong support of the institutional leadership and the endorsement and involvement of the Faculty Senate.

The extent to which current practices of ensuring students have sequential opportunities to learn important skills has not been systematically evaluated. However, the curriculum is expressly designed to ensure such opportunities.

Results from NSSE indicate that 40% of first-year students and 67% of seniors reported they often or very often received prompt written feedback from instructors about their academic performance; 14% of first-year students and 6% of seniors indicated they never received prompt written feedback.

Efforts to disseminate information from these assessment instruments have only just begun in 2007-08. In instances, where this information has been communicated, a number of proposed initiatives have resulted. For instance, recent research about
graduation and retention rates  has indicated that full-time, first-time students who earn below a 2.0 GPA in their first semester graduate at a rate of just 9%, compared to a rate of 63% for those who earn a 3.0 GPA or above. The institution is exploring a variety of intervention options for students who demonstrate weak academic performance in their first semester. These items are closely monitored, and the current strategic plan calls for improvement in a number of these areas.  Results are used to make improvements.

 

Projection

Work is underway on a more efficient approach to course scheduling that will improve course availability by reducing conflicts among competing courses. We also plan to use our Ad Astra scheduling software to develop course schedules based on students’ degree audits to ensure that our course selection reflects student needs.  We also hope to improve students’ academic progress by making more courses available online during the fall and spring semesters.  The mission of our Continuing Education Office has also been expanded to place greater emphasis on delivering academic programs in formats better suited to the needs of working adults (e.g., evening, weekend, accelerated, online, etc.).

The University will move to integrate the assessment of student outcomes into a more comprehensive database to provide a more complete picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the General Education program and to build more direct connections between the learning outcomes in General Education with major programs.  The critical thinking and writing objectives, in particular, may serve to integrate General  Education objectives within major programs.   The Academic Assessment Committee and the Faculty Senate will carefully review the results of the CLA to evaluate whether the test provides sufficient value to warrant continued use.  

In future years, respect for diversity, civic responsibility, and community engagement are likely to receive greater emphasis as the institution reviews assessment results and reflects on its mission and objectives of the General Education program. CCSU also will revise the General Education objectives to include information literacy explicitly as an outcome of the program. 

The FYE program will be expanded to insure that all incoming students are registered for an FYE course in their first semester.  The recent change that has added an additional hour to FYE courses is expected to help move the University toward that goal.  The continuing growth in the number of learning communities should improve student engagement and help students make connections across disciplines.

CCSU, along with other state universities, has begun participation in a project requested by the State of Connecticut and the Department of Higher Education to further the integration of the community colleges with the State University System.  This project aims to create a common course numbering system for introductory courses to facilitate student mobility through different institutions of higher education in the State.  All proposed changes in course numbering to accommodate this mandate will be carefully reviewed by the University Curriculum Committee and the Faculty Senate to insure that the academic integrity of the General Education program is maintained.

The School of Graduate Studies will be updating the school’s website during summer 2008 to ensure that all information on the Web is consistent with the catalog.  All other graduate school publications will follow the same format.

The Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) will continue to lobby actively for increased financial support of graduate assistants and a competitive program to fund graduate student research projects.  Further, the GSC and the Graduate School will investigate improved methods to communicate existing sources of financial support to potential and continuing graduate students.  Also to be explored is the option of controlling tuition increases for Ed.D. students to be more competitive with local universities that also offer the Ed.D. degree.  

Greater publicity of Ed.D. student research is planned by the program. During the next academic year the doctoral faculty will be exploring methods to provide external reviews of the doctoral dissemination seminars and methods for generating regular reports about the resultant doctoral student scholarship at the completion of their program. Additionally, Academic Affairs plans to establish a fund to support student research as well as to identify, encourage, and publicize student research.  It is also part of the Strategic Plan to encourage DECs to recognize and value faculty collaborating with students on research projects. 

More frequent, effective and systematic surveying of the graduate students will be developed by the Dean of Graduate Studies in concert with the GSC.  Potential solutions to the low return rate will need to be considered.  In addition, a marketing study with continuing students as well as alumni will begin in 2008-2009 to help determine the needs of potential students concerning programs, class scheduling times and alternative delivery structures.  This research will also seek to understand causes for declining part-time graduate student enrollments, in order to develop programs that address their needs.

During AY 2007-2008, CCSU’s graduate division, as well as the Graduate Studies Committee, took preliminary steps to initiate consideration of new graduate degree programs for addition to the current array of its offerings.  An ad hoc committee reviewed national markets and employment data, Connecticut’s labor and educational needs, and whether CCSU had sufficient resources in the proposed academic areas proposed.  As a result faculty are engaged in working on developing rationale, learning outcomes, statement of needs and curriculum for two new master’s programs in summer 2008: Global Sustainability and Liberal Studies.

Academic departments and academic officers are responsible for ensuring that sufficient course offerings are provided and scheduled to allow students to complete degree requirements in a timely manner.  Increased scheduling of courses during less utilized times to avoid “bottlenecks” as well as periodic review of time blocks used for scheduling courses are options these groups might examine to resolve existing problems. New course scheduling software, Ad Astra Platinum Analytics, designed to interface with the Banner student system and the degree audit process, will provide the institution with significant data to aid in the development of class schedules.  This software will allow the Registrar’s Office to then share information that academic deans and department chairs can use to plan course offerings. Thus, enrollment management personnel can better leverage past and current course enrollment data and program rules to make more informed decisions about class schedule development.

In addition to solutions being examined and proposed by the Retention and Graduation Council, other departmental efforts that could affect students’ timely completion of degrees include instituting a 15-credit schedule for all entering undergraduate students and encouraging continued adherence to a 15-credit plan in ensuing semesters whenever possible; ensuring that curriculum sheets and materials clearly indicate degree completion patterns that illustrate a 15-18 credit load per semester; and expanding opportunities for student employment on campus and for scholarships (“Dollars for Scholars”) that can be provided to outstanding students who might need extra financial support to attend school full-time in lieu of working off-campus.

The Office of Academic Affairs and the academic deans have increased the number of resources available to faculty (e.g., deans’ research initiatives, Trustees’ Research Awards).   Since 2005, the amount of support for faculty research and creative activity increased from $905,648 to $1,745,931. More information may be needed regarding the types of resources faculty feel they need and why they feel that available resources are insufficient. The budget development and collective bargaining processes are designed to address resource allocation issues.  Data from the 2007 College Employee Survey will likely be used to inform those processes.  The deans also plan to track systematically how many faculty seek out funds for research support and how many requests are denied.

Proposed enabling activities for the CCSU Strategic Plan also incorporate a number of initiatives to increase faculty participation in professional development activities, such as better planning and publicity for events designed to feature faculty accomplishments.  In addition, the Academic Affairs area plans to encourage and publicize faculty endeavors that directly impact pedagogy and student learning.   Department Evaluation Committees (DEC) will be urged to recognize such activities, with deans and chairs also providing support for faculty participation in graduate and undergraduate creative efforts.

Since 42% of staff are less than satisfied with the evaluation of their professional performance, it will be important to find out the type of feedback that would be valuable to them, whether this information is gathered through the respective unions or by examining data collected in another short survey specifically related to this topic.

While KPI comparative numbers of first-time and transfer undergraduate students enrolled from 2003 through 2007 show that transfer student enrollees declined in 2007, KPI retention rates demonstrate that transfer student retention rates are increasing at CCSU. Facilitating the seamless transfer of community college students to the universities is a high priority both for the CSU System and for the State of Connecticut. Accordingly, CCSU has embarked on a number of initiatives to better serve transfer students. These initiatives include developing a transfer compact based on the dual enrollment model, developing a course transfer matrix for all four Connecticut State universities and all 12 Connecticut community colleges, and streamlining our transfer evaluation process, as well as scheduling orientation sessions expressly for transfer students, focus groups for transfer students, and enhanced web content to support transfer students.

Significant work remains to be done in the area of assessing student learning in a systematic fashion. The new Director of Institutional Research and Assessment has communicated to faculty the message that assessment practices must 1) produce useful results, 2) pertain to learning outcomes identified and owned by the faculty, and 3) remain manageable in scope. This message has been well-received during 2007-08, but there is still resistance to be overcome, as the institution tries to foster a culture of assessment that is integrated into pedagogical practice and the process of making programmatic adjustments. Future peer review of departmental assessment practices by the Academic Assessment Committee is designed to develop this culture of assessment and strengthen the assessment of student learning.

Beginning in 2008-09 the Academic Assessment Committee will institute a review process that will provide feedback and support to departments to assist in improving their assessment practices.  As departments receive feedback about their assessment practices and devote more attention to assessing student learning in a systematic way, the programs will gain a better understanding of how students are learning in their programs and make appropriate adjustments. The institution plans to increase support for the important activities of assessment. These plans include the institution of departmental awards for exemplary assessment practices and institutional grants for assessment activities.

The new process for the review of program-level assessment results will likely better integrate course-, program-, and institution-level assessment results and provide a more robust picture of how students learn and provide a better mechanism to monitor adjustments and improvements. The University is also considering ways to universalize an external review component for all academic programs. 

With the formalization of the assessment committee’s charge for 2008-2009 to coordinate the assessment of General Education, faculty in each department have been given the primary responsibility for assessing student learning outcomes in courses delivered by their department. The assessment committee will coordinate these efforts, ensuring that course-specific outcomes can be mapped back to the institution-wide General Education outcomes approved by the faculty. The committee will convene cross-curricular conversations to coordinate these assessments and also to adopt a common rating scale for course-embedded assessment of General Education. The intent of this strategy is to harness the assessment of student learning that already occurs at the course level in General Education courses and summarize those evaluations in a valid and comprehensive fashion to provide faculty with information they can use to make curricular adjustments.

As the University moves forward with these newly created formal structures to encourage and review the assessment of student learning outcomes, the effectiveness of these structures and strategies will be monitored. The Academic Assessment Committee will provide a formal report each year to the faculty senate and the administration about its success in meeting its charge, and the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment will disseminate additional information and materials about the assessment of student learning at CCSU.

As the Academic Assessment Committee reviews assessment practices beginning in 2008-09, that group will be positioned to determine the effectiveness of assessment efforts directed at monitoring the extent to which students have systematic, substantial, and sequential opportunities to learn important skills. The University will continue to monitor the alignment of students’ learning outcomes with the needs of employers and graduate schools. Faculty will make adjustments to curricula and programs as needed to meet those needs.


Additional opportunities to inform the campus community about important information gathered from these assessment tools are planned. Also, a well-publicized schedule of assessment points will be communicated to faculty and staff to keep them informed about the kinds of information the University is collecting and communicating to these groups, items that they can use to make programmatic adjustments and improvements.

 

Institutional Effectiveness

 

The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA) is responsible for collecting, analyzing and disseminating data and information to support the University. OIRA also coordinates assessment activities and assists in developing a culture of assessment directed at continuous improvement based on data-driven decisions and adjustments. Examples of specific data maintained and reported on by this office include: student enrollment, graduation rates, student engagement, experience of first-year students, student/faculty ratios, and higher education funding.

 

OIRA also oversees an annual assessment of individual programs and assists programs with external accreditation. The annual assessment involves compiling data about how well individual programs are meeting their learning objectives.  Funding is also provided for faculty to design and implement assessment projects to evaluate student learning. The results of these projects are disseminated at an annual system-wide Assessment Conference.
 

Back to Main Page


1615 Stanley Street, New Britain, CT 06050  860.832.CCSU or toll free instate 1-888-733-2278


 
Copyright © 2005 [Central Connecticut State University]. All rights reserved.
webmaster@ccsu.edu
Last Update: Tuesday September 09, 2008