A more detailed response to the concerns and suggestions made by the 2002 Reaffirmation of Accreditation Visit Team and the 2006 Focused Visit Team is provided in an earlier section. Here, however, is a brief response to the topics that relate most directly to this criterion:
The HLC consultant-evaluators found that the varying concerns about assessment and faculty involvement in student learning outcomes warranted a Focused Visit. The 2006 Focused Visit Report describes the transformation process in detail. The continued growth and improvement of the system since that report is described below in Core Component 3A. Here are their major concerns:
- The college should ensure that faculty are fully understanding of their role in the ownership and direction of the curriculum, as well as provide for clarity in a student’s progression through coursework to a degree: See Core Component 3B.1 for evaluation of faculty ownership of curriculum. Area Facilitator involvement, the assessment system, prompts in program review, and the process by which outlines and programs are created, revised or deleted all testify to a curriculum that is firmly under the control of Sauk faculty.
- There exists no clearly defined philosophy statement regarding general education requirements as agreed upon by the faculty: The Faculty created the desired statement, which is published in the catalog and which provides a foundation for assessment of the general education outcomes.
- [There exists] no identification and articulation of expected competencies to be attained by students within each area: A set of outcome-based assessment goals and objectives was developed by the faculty for each general education competency, each discipline, and each career program. A recent revision to the system has refocused the discipline-level outcomes to the General Education Core Competency area level.
- [There exists] no method of assessment and measurement of those areas of importance, generally no stated career program outcomes: Faculty work together to determine tools appropriate to assess the outcomes they have developed, collect and evaluate data, and take action appropriate to their findings. The process is documented in one of two digital systems for reference from year to year and when needed during annual planning.
- [There exists] no current process for including the results in instructional improvement and the annual budgeting of the institution: Assessment results flow into the planning cycle and to the budget through the Operational Plans, with both systems coordinated for faculty by Area Facilitators.
- Faculty generally does not demonstrate a shared understanding of the potential or goals of academic assessment and they demonstrate only minimal buy-in to the overall program: Led by the Assessment Core Team, consisting primarily of faculty, and given regular opportunity to meet and discuss, the faculty have created a culture of assessment distinctive to this institution and have indicated in repeated surveys that they value assessment and use the findings to benefit their own classrooms and the institution.
2006 Focused Visit Concerns
The Focused Visit Team was generally complimentary of the transformation they found, but suggested one major area where the college could improve:
- The faculty has not yet come to full consensus on a common rubric for assessing the achievement of the [gen ed] competencies taught at the college: Several steps have been taken to move in the direction of consensus in ways that are appropriate to a system that thrives on discussion. One significant development is the creation by career program faculty of a common set of program outcomes that they are assessing for the first time. Another is the pattern of General Education Core Curriculum (GECC) area projects being undertaken annually by the transfer areas. Both of these developments will influence further improvements in competency assessment.