Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we have to do this?
In our most recent accreditation report, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) recommended (in no uncertain terms) that we need to update our course outcomes to show that they can be assessed and that we have a program of continuous review. So, this process is accreditation driven, but is being faculty led.
What is accreditation and who is responsible for it?
Regional accreditation is a process of recognizing educational institutions for performance, integrity, and quality that entitles them to the confidence of the educational community and the public. In the United States this recognition is extended largely through nongovernmental, voluntary membership associations that establish accreditation criteria, evaluate institutions against that criteria, and approving institutions that meet the criteria.
Institutions accredited or pre-accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities are required to examine their own missions, goals, operations, and achievements. It then provides expert analysis by peer evaluators, and, later, commendations for accomplishments and recommendations for improvement from the accrediting body. Since the accreditation status of an institution is reviewed periodically, institutions are encouraged toward continued self-study and improvement
The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) is an independent, non-profit membership organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the regional authority on educational quality and institutional effectiveness of higher education institutions in the seven-state Northwest region of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. It fulfills its mission by establishing accreditation criteria and evaluation procedures by which institutions are reviewed. (NWCCU.org)
What does my department need to do?
See the timeline for this year here.
What do I, as a faculty member, have to do?
You will determine how the outcomes for your course will be evaluated and what and how you will report the conclusions from assessing your course outcomes. Also, as part of this process, be sure to update the outcomes you have on your syllabi each term so that the reflect the most current, approved outcomes for your course. You are also expected to participate in meetings or conversations about the assessment results for classes in your department. It's from these meetings that changes to courses or curricula can occur.
How many outcomes does a course need?
A course should have no less than 3 and no more than 7 outcomes. The majority of courses will have between 3 and 5 outcomes. Some programs may have more due to other outside accrediting bodies.
What does measurable mean with regards to outcomes?
Can the student do the action identified in the outcome?
Do the outcomes on my syllabi need to match the outcomes on the CO?
Yes. Any revisions to the outcomes on the CO will need to be reflected on your syllabi once the revision is approved.
We have multiple sections of the same class in our department taught by different instructors. We have different outcomes for our sections of classes. Must the outcomes for both sections match? What if we don’t agree on what the outcomes should be?
The outcomes on the syllabi must be the approved outcomes for the course regardless of who is teaching it. Regarding agreement of the outcomes, this is a conversation for departments to have and is a critical part of this process. The idea is that instructors do (and should) offer unique approaches and styles to teaching, but what a student is ultimately able to do should not vary depending on which section of an identical course they chose.
Do we need to redo all of our courses or course outcomes?
No. The purpose of this work is not to rewrite/redo all of our courses and outcomes. The objective is to make sure that all of our courses have outcomes that can be assessed and to assess them. However, we do need to make sure that all of the outcomes are accurate and reflected accurately in multiple places (Banner, Catalog, Syllabi, COs, etc.) across campus.
Why aren’t all courses going through this process this year?
Considering the workload, the MAC team felt this would be best done in a two-year, purposeful process. Year One (2014-2015) was 100-level and developmental courses. Year Two (2015-2016) is 200-level and CTE courses.
Where can I find the link to the new Course Outline (CO) form?
What is the due date for submitting the new, revised, or reviewed outcomes and COs?
See the timeline for this year here.
How will my dean be using the assessment results?
Our deans need evidence that we are indeed assessing our course outcomes. The deans will create a division report based on the results of our assessments. However, the actual results (percentages, suggestions for improvement, etc.) are NOT being used in the evaluation of faculty performance.
What will we do with all of this work when we are finished? Will it just sit in a drawer like the last time we did this?
Once the outcomes have been updated, assessments tied to outcomes, and data collected, each department will meet (hopefully after each term) to discuss results and to work on improvements and revisions as needed. To facilitate this, we are looking at opportunities to provide faculty the necessary time to do this as we go through this process. The purpose of this is so that this will become a continuous loop of improvement to make our courses and programs stronger.
How can I involve part-time faculty in this work, and if I do, how can they be paid?
The MAC Team is aware that there have been questions about pay for part-time faculty to receive training and participate in the assessment process at the department level. After clarification from the Deans, funds are available for departments to cover costs for part-time faculty regarding training about outcomes assessment, writing outcomes for courses (when appropriate), and department meetings that are primarily focused on assessment. In these instances, part-time faculty should complete a monthly time sheet (the most current version is available on the paperless office online) and turn it in to their administrative assistant. In the comments box on the time sheet, please write “Assessment” so that the college can track the funding.