SVCC HLC Self-Study Document

Sauk Valley Community College
HLC Self-Study Document

September 19-21, 2011

3B: Values and Supports Effective Teaching

Sauk Valley Community College values and supports effective teaching.

At the last reaffirmation visit, Sauk’s focus was on effective teaching, so much so that student learning had not taken the central place of concern that it required. Over the last ten years, the changes to the assessment and planning processes have done much to recognize effective teaching as the means by which student learning may be achieved. That said, effective teaching is a valued and supported component of the college Mission, founded in the Board’s commitment “that the quality of the . . . instructional faculty is central to the quality of the educational experience of the students” and that it “therefore, seeks to employ and retain persons with the highest professional qualifications and continuously demonstrated ability.”

3B.1: Qualified Faculty Controls Instruction

Sauk’s range of academic and career degrees and certificates results in a wide range of qualifications for faculty in those specific areas. These qualifications are contained in each job description and are clearly described in every job posting and advertisement.

All of Sauk’s faculty are qualified for the positions they hold. Full-time and adjunct faculty who teach transfer courses are required to have at least a Master's degree in the content areas they teach. Faculty who teach dual credit classes in local high schools or the career center are held to the same credential requirements as full-time college faculty and must also have appropriate Illinois high school certification. The educational credential requirements for career faculty vary by discipline. The Human Resources Office verifies that individuals hold appropriate educational credentials at the time of hire. 

The faculty controls the curriculum within policy guidelines and regulations established by the institution and various regulatory agencies:

  • Curriculum Committee: At the institutional level, faculty control of curriculum is embodied in the committee that is charged with approving all credit programs and courses, all prerequisite changes, and all institutional policy changes related to curriculum (link to an appendixAppendix). The Curriculum Committee is chaired by a faculty member and consists of six faculty representatives, counselor, a student, and the instructional deans. Other college offices are represented on the committee in ex officio resource capacities. The minutes of the Curriculum Committee provide evidence of the role of the faculty in the addition, deletion, and proposed changes of courses and programs at Sauk.
  • New courses and programs: Any full-time or adjunct faculty member may initiate a new course. The course outline and a sample syllabus must be created and submitted to the appropriate Dean or the Academic Vice President for preliminary approval. During this step in the process, IAI issues and compliance with outcome-based outline design are assured. Once approved, the faculty member submits the proposal to the Curriculum Committee using the Curriculum and Policy Action Form. The faculty member is invited to explain, clarify, or defend the proposal at the Curriculum Committee meeting where the proposal is given first reading and discussed. At a following meeting, the committee votes whether to approve the new course, with a simple majority deciding the outcome. The same general procedure is followed for the addition of new programs, as well as for the deletion of courses or programs.
  • Course outlines: Course content is regulated by a Course Outline that uses a standard template to establish the critical components of the course. The outline assures that anyone teaching a section of a given course will have access to the same learning outcomes requirements to use in developing a syllabus. It specifies which parts of the course will be uniform in every section and which will allow for teacher preference. Specific teaching strategies are typically determined by each individual instructor, so many assessments are listed as a set of alternatives. For example, some developmental-level math courses have standardized texts, chapter tests, and end-of-course assessment tools. In contrast, the college-level English composition outlines standardize the outcomes, but provide broad latitude for diverse use of texts and assessment tools. Each of these decisions made by faculty is approved by the Curriculum Committee when the outline is approved.
  • Syllabi: Each semester, each faculty member is required to create and supply to students a syllabus that describes the requirements for the course; indicates how the course outcomes will be assessed; and provides information, including grading practice, attendance policies, schedule of activities, etc. A standard template is provided for the syllabus, and all of the syllabi are submitted to and kept on file by the Academic Vice President each semester.

During FY06, the Assessment Core Team spearheaded a project for faculty to revise course outlines, many of which had not been revised since 1997, when they had first been restated in outcomes-based language. When the program review process was revised most recently, a specific prompt was added to make sure that faculty review all of the area’s course outlines, to ensure that this important review is systematically conducted.

3B.2: Professional Development Improves Teaching and Learning

Sauk encourages and supports faculty development in several ways that allow individual faculty members to improve their knowledge and expertise in their own disciplines, expand their range of teaching methods, improve their assessment tools, and increase their flexibility in teaching and learning styles:

  • Faculty Development Committee: Faculty may submit requests for professional development funds for conferences, seminars, and workshops to the Faculty Development Committee. Each approved participant in professional development is required to file an activity report summarizing what was learned. According to the fall 2009 survey, 70% of faculty have attended conferences or workshops related to their profession every year or nearly every year.
  • Budget support: Sauk provides a faculty development budget of $20,000 annually (approximately $465 per full time faculty member). In the five years beginning summer 2007 to summer 2011, an average of 40% of the travel budget was used each year (Link to another section of the Self-Study 4A.2).
  • Promotion incentives: The college encourages professional development by providing faculty with contractually-agreed-upon promotion credit for attending non-credit seminars, symposiums, and workshops at the ratio of one credit for each fifteen hours of actual contact experience. This is in addition to the promotional incentive provided for taking graduate-level courses), which makes graduate-level hours one of the primary components of promotional eligibility (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.8).
  • Assessment-related projects: The Assessment Core Team annually recommends professional development topics related to teaching and learning as it relates to the general education competency cycle. Money for an outside presenter is not readily available, so the Team uses in-house presenters to the extent possible. For example, in 2006, the Core Team sponsored a voluntary brown-bag session on student listening skills; in 2007, they recruited a retired colleague to provide a presentation on reading in the classroom to kick off a reading assessment project. In January 2009, the college provided funds for an e-workshop on “Teaching the Millennial Student,” and in 2010 the Instructional Technology staff presented a workshop on how students use technology to cheat and plagiarize.

3B.3: Evaluating and Recognizing Teaching

A yearly evaluation process for full-time and adjunct faculty provides feedback and encouragement for improvements in teaching:

  • Adjunct faculty evaluation (including off-site dual credit faculty): Teachers are observed in the classroom by the Dean of Instructional Services. Following the classroom observation, the Dean writes a classroom observation narrative which is shared with the faculty member and also added to the personnel file.
  • Full-time faculty evaluation procedures: The supervising administrator is charged with collecting information about each faculty member each year, according to contract provisions. The process involves a written self-evaluation followed by an evaluation interview with the appropriate Dean or Vice President, which results in a written evaluation and recommendation to the President. Among the factors considered are several directly pertaining to the quality of teaching:
    • Classroom teaching (Formal classroom observation every third year or when circumstances require one)
    • Professional growth (self-reported by the faculty)
    • Academic growth (self-reported by the faculty)
    • Service to students (self-reported by the faculty)
    • Adherence to the faculty job description.

Given that the evaluation system works to ensure the competency of the entire faculty, Sauk's primary mode of supporting and rewarding excellence is its faculty promotion process. Guidelines specify that “the acquisition of credits and necessary experience is only one criterion to determine eligibility for promotion”; included as a consideration in every faculty promotion is also the annual evaluation described above, including specifically “demonstrated teaching capability.”

3B.4: Support for Faculty Use of Technology

Sauk maintains an Instructional Technology Office  (IT) that is charged with the combined task of keeping abreast of technological advances and curriculum design principles that can enhance teaching and learning and of delivering that information to the faculty. To that end, the Director of Instructional Technology makes information about teaching and learning available in various formats:

  • Website: The IT webpage carries links to a variety of information sources, including online tutorials, many of which have been developed in-house; archived training sessions; and links to current research on topics related to teaching and learning.
  • Face-to-face training: IT surveys faculty on their training needs and offers a regular schedule of workshops, which include the use of applications, course design, use of multimedia to enhance learning, open educational resources, the Internet, and software tools for the classroom. Each semester IT distributes a training schedule booklet that lists and describes the face-to-face scheduled sessions for the semester. Faculty may attend as many of these free sessions as they wish. Many of these sessions can also be attended via webinars, which are then stored for future use.
  • Instructional Technology Center (ITC): The ITC is a specially equipped computer lab space for faculty to visit for consultation with instructional designers, to attend a training session, to receive one-on-one instruction, to get help with course management system features, to use specialized software, or to have a quiet place to work on course design with assistance near at hand.
  • Innovative Internet Instruction (i3): IT offers a free eight-week online workshop called i3 (Innovative Internet Instruction). The course presents online teaching strategies for hybrid, web-enhanced, and fully online classes through hands-on experience in course design and delivery. The i3 Workshop is required of any faculty new to teaching online and is open to all faculty who are interested in online teaching or in enhancing their live courses with online support. Faculty earn two promotional hours for completing i3. Since its beginning in 2005, 21 full-time faculty, 25 adjunct faculty, one staff, and one community member have completed the i3 Workshop.
  • Technology show and tell: Periodically, IT will hold a tech show and tell where faculty who have attended a conference can share any technology that they have learned about. Various web tools have been presented such as use of Second Life for office hours, cell phone polling, Google Docs, etc.
  • Classroom Technology Showcase: An annual showcase is held during the spring faculty workshop day. The Showcase is held in the East Mall where IT and Informational Services staff and various faculty present different technologies that are currently being used in classrooms and around the campus. The technology showcase, which began in 2003, had almost a dozen faculty demonstrate classroom technologies at the 2010 showcase. The technology showcase provides an opportunity for faculty to network with faculty from other disciplines and to learn about new classroom technologies. In fall 2009, an adjunct version was added just prior to their evening orientation session.

As a result of the efforts of the IT staff, the faculty is well-equipped to enhance learning by incorporating solid course design principles and the latest in classroom technologies. According to the fall 2010 survey, 100% of faculty respondents indicated that they use the features that are available in technology-enhanced classrooms. Here are examples of several faculty who are using some of the latest technologies in their classrooms:

  • A criminal justice professor uses to conduct in-class cell phone surveys on controversial topics.
  • A physics professor uses clicker technology to assess physics students’ retention of class presentations.
  • A history professor has transferred teaching notes, texts, and resource materials to a tablet computer.

3B.5: Learning Technology Is Budget Priority

The Institutional Technology Committee provides leadership and recommendations for technology that will facilitate the Mission of the college and has spurred the purchase of $100,000-$125,000 in new technology annually. The Dean of Information Services, with input from faculty and Information Services/Instructional Technology Department (IS/IT) staff recommends technology budget allocations. Below are some examples of technology purchased, besides the extensive classroom support described in 3D.3:

  • wireless connection to the Internet available throughout the college
  • all full-time faculty receive a new computer every four years and most full-time employees have their own computer
  • 20 or more laptop or tablet computers are available for use by any employee
  • adjunct faculty may use laptop or tablet computers from a supply made available to them

As the financial environment has become less secure, more pressure has been put on using the funding bonds to meet other needs. IS/IT continues to look for grant funding as opportunities and time permit. The 2009 Program Review for the Technology area made clear the importance of its funding and expressed the concern that “should the funding bonds cease to be issued or be diverted to other areas of the institution, [this] would place the unit in jeopardy.”