1I2 Setting Targets for Improvement
Faculty contributes directly to setting and
achieving goals in the area of student learning. Departments develop five-year plans aligned with the strategic planning goals of the institution. All departments participate in strengthening the retention, graduation, and placement outcomes of students by setting realistic, achievable goals. All five-year plans are reviewed and approved by the appropriate college dean. Another strategic goal realized through department goal setting is that of providing students, by graduation, the opportunity to blend academic knowledge and application in and beyond the classroom. Each department sets and achieves goals for involving students in
applied learning experiences. Western assures
that these goals are realistic, yet challenging, by
providing funds to bring in external consultants within each discipline to review departmental plans and goals.
Faculty and administration evaluate and respond to student outcomes on the ETS Academic Profile. The following areas have been identified for
improvement: student motivation, test administration instructions, evaluation of the appropriateness of measures (the academic profile will be discontinued by ETS), and long-terms measures to ensure instructional practices that facilitate student growth in higher order thinking areas such as analysis, synthesis, and critical thinking. Western will match the ETS Academic Profile subtest scores with the common student learning objectives to determine correlation.
During the next 18 months, Western will propose actions to improve student performance on senior learning outcomes in the majors. Western plans to create a central repository of data to be used to improve student learning in the major programs. Western’s Strategic Plan addresses the need to work on this area of improvement through
activities related to Goal Three under Planning
A new institutional strategic plan is in the early
stages of development. Faculty, staff, administrators, and students are actively involved in its development. It is anticipated that goals and objectives included in this plan will directly
address improvements in student learning and will set improvement targets. The strategic plan will be widely discussed by faculty, staff, and students as it proceeds to implementation.
Western has engaged Noel-Levitz to assist in the creating of a retention plan with realistic targets to be achieved over the next three to five years.
Western is benchmarking a campus-wide assessment tool to gauge the effectiveness and quality of applied learning. Initial results yielded positive feedback from students, and marked the reflection activities as very high quality. During Spring 2006, Western hosted the First Annual Conference on Applied Learning in Higher Education, and keynote speakers focused on reflection activities in Applied Learning. One of the weakest ratings in the benchmarking tool was on the Application subscale, which will be discussed at next year’s conference, with workshops and keynote speakers.
Western continues to encourage student learning
by emphasizing the use of full-time faculty for
instruction (Figure 1.4). Access to faculty and faculty mentors supports the learning processes.