At Concordia University, evidence of student learning is used to identify areas where changes in policies and practices may lead to improvement. This evidence is gathered at the institutional and program level and focuses on both student learning and the overall student experience. Student learning evidence is used to inform improvements in curriculum, pedagogy, instructional resources, and student services. (Please see Current Assessment Activities/Facets of Institutional Assessment and Summary of Student Learning Assessment Practices)
Use of Student Learning Evidence for Improvement at the Institutional Level
A. Several campus initiatives have been conducted in response to our results on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the Adult Student Priorities Survey (ASPS). These initiatives were launched in an effort to increase academic challenge and instructional effectiveness.
The Office of Institutional Research has conducted in-depth analyses of instructional effectiveness results and has held individual and small group meetings with deans and administrators from each School.
A new course challenge item was added to the Student Faculty Course Rating Form which all students complete at the end of each class they take.
New Course Challenge Item: How often was the course challenging? Specifically, how often were you challenged within the course to acquire a high level of skill, knowledge and/or understanding?
B. On the Alumni Questionnaire, former students report that high levels of development in Christian vocation, servant leadership, and spiritual growth occurred for them at CUW. Since helping our students develop in spirit and service is an essential aspect of our mission and since our student enrollment continues to grow the following campus initiatives have occurred:
Two campus ministry staff members, one full-time and one half-time, were added in order to assist our campus pastor.
A new program called SERVE (Servanthood Engagement in the Community Relationships Vocation Empowerment) was launched. Students engage in regular service projects as well as regular trips to service organizations.
Faculty are rated by students via the following:
On a scale of 5 (a lot) to 1 (very little), how much did this course prepare you for service to Christ, the Church, and/or the world?
C. Detailed retention analyses that indicated lower retention for undecided and academically at-risk students prompted the creation of our new SASS office: Student Academic Support Services.The SASS office brings all of the student support services under one roof, thus creating greater efficiencies and easier access for students. Also, three new ministries were started to address retention of at risk students:
Achieve Ministry - targets a select group of at-risk freshmen
Explore Ministry - for undecided students
Student Success Ministry - targets students on academic probation.
Next steps: Increased enrollment in honors program, continued discussions and focus on academic challenge and rigor, and continued monitoring of these scores on subsequent administrations of the NSSE and ASPS. Explore new ways to measure vocation, servant leadership, and spiritual growth in students. Continued monitoring of impact of student success programs on retention of at risk students.
Use of Student Learning Evidence for Improvement at the Program Level
In order to effectively carry out Concordias mission, the quality of academic programs and the performance of students are continuously assessed. In the same way that students utilize feedback from professors to improve academic performance, CUW faculty obtain and utilize feedback in order to strengthen programs. Assessment of student learning at the program level is integral to the learning process and is, therefore, planned and carried out with the same degree of organization and care that faculty use when planning and delivering courses. Assessment is properly the responsibility of every faculty member, and a culture of assessmen pervades the work of this institution.
Based on student learning evidence it is necessary for each 300/400-level History course to include at least one exercise in historiography. It may be as simple as discussing one article for the purposes of identifying the key historiographical characteristics or a comparison of two journal articles for the additional purpose of contrast.
Also, instructors will provide an example of a historiographical debate (either an article, monograph or section from a monograph), as well as a template to assist students in identifying and discussing the key historiographical characteristics of any secondary source.
Writing and grammatical accuracy plays a part in every German course to some extent. To continue to reinforce this skill, especially for those who respond less well to direct instruction, the number of writing assignments in GER 306 will be increased. Individual and peer editing will be incorporated to help increase students focus on the quality of writing as well as their understanding of the more challenging structural elements of the German language.
UNDERGRADUATE BUSINESS PROGRAM
Since we wish to be sure that students do not leave CUW without being able to demonstrate introductory and intermediate skills in business software, we will be implementing a new course in the business core entitled BUS150 Business Software. We will likely try to articulate this outcome further in the future as that course is developed and taught. This recommendation and the ability to develop and teach such a course were used as criteria in the hiring of our new management professor.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDCUATION PROGRAM
Based on student learning evidence it is necessary to include more specific objectives in every course to emphasize the relationship of the universal meaning of equity, fairness, and diversity issues to the seemingly simple everyday life and learning in the early childhood classroom.
Other curricular changes will include more observations in EDG 560 and EDG 545 to assess responses to issues of diversity (age, gender, ability, culture, and race).
REHABILITATIVE SCIENCE PROGRAM
In order to improve and promote scholarly writing, faculty mentors of research projects will encourage students to consider publication in the early phases of the project so a journal can be targeted and writing of all major sections can be tailored to the writing style of a particular journal.
In order to improve the evaluation and application of research results in our students we are recommending the following adjustments to the following nursing classes:
N212: Add one screening tool assessment that is students choice-to force students to review evidence-based tools.
N265: Continue to have students research drugs.
- N340/N341 (Jr sir): Move research to the junior or even sophomore year to help allow us to incorporate research and EBP earlier in the curriculum.
Next Steps: Continue to highlight examples of curricular changes based on student learning evidence gathered through program assessment processes. Promote faculty development opportunities focusing on the use of evidence to improve student learning.
We are receptive to feedback on the quality and utility of the information provided.
Tamara R. Ferry, Ph.D.
Director of Institutional Research