The faculty owns the curriculum, as evidenced by our procedures related to course and curriculum decisions.
Sauk offers a variety of class format and scheduling options that increase student access to courses while remaining within budgetary restrictions.
The priority we place on student success is evidenced by the integrated variety of services and procedures intended to help students overcome barriers, individual challenges, and lack of college readiness.
The annual technology showcase provides a commendable opportunity for faculty to network with each other on new strategies and technologies that they are implementing for their classes.
The Testing Center creation is a testament to our potential for institutional improvement when annual operational planning and program review combine to bring data and cross-institutional discussion to bear on a perceived problem.
One of the strengths of our assessment of student learning is the faculty's regular participation in overseeing the continued improvement of the system itself.
We have reason to be proud of the development of the institutional-level general education assessment projects and the extent to which the faculty interacts about the general education competencies.
Everyone is required to submit a conference report after attending a conference. These reports are not submitted consistently by everyone and the reports that are submitted are simply placed in a file. The self-study committee recommends that the conference report procedure be revised so information obtained can be shared in a way that benefits the institution.
As a community college, Sauk is focused more on teaching and learning than on research done by its faculty. However, there is no specific acknowledgment by the college of excellence in teaching other than the promotion policy. The self-study committee recommends that the college explore ways that it might provide recognition to its best teachers.
In the current design of the Assessment of Academic Achievement, there is no clear connection to the non-credit certificate programs. It is not entirely clear whether this is a significant gap in the system. The self-study committee recommends that this issue be investigated and a recommendation made on how to appropriately assess this category of certificates.
The college has made little or no effort to communicate to the public the good work it is doing to assess its student learning and the achievements of those students. The self-study committee recommends that the Assessment Committee revise the assessment plan to create guidelines ensuring the systematic public access to appropriate assessment data.
The IS/IT department is short-staffed, which is likely to undercut expansion of services if it continues. Deterioration in IS/IT services is likely to have a ripple effect across the whole institution that would impair student learning and effective teaching. The self-study committee recommends that additional hiring for IS/IT positions be made a priority as funding becomes available.
Opportunities for Growth
The guidelines for applying for Faculty Development funds do not clearly require identification of the type of information the conference will address (for example, assessment, technology, teaching and learning, etc.). The self-study committee recommends the guidelines be revised to track specific categories of content that are of interest to Sauk.
As the college increases its reliance on adjunct faculty, Sauk must assure that the quality of instruction is not compromised by adjuncts who are not engaged with campus opportunities and support. The self-study committee makes the following recommendations:
Create a formal mentorship program in which full-time faculty would support adjunct faculty.
Require adjunct faculty to have on-campus or online office hours appropriate to their course loads.
Consider providing a stipend for or requiring participation in some essential in-service activities each year.
Sauk uses a wide variety of data to influence its decision-making processes; however, the communication of data among committees, academic programs, and support offices is sporadic and often dependent on individual initiative. The self-study committee recommends that ways be sought to strengthen communication of data among the various units of the college.
Given the tight economy, teaching more students per section makes sense on the surface. However, class size influences retention and instruction. The self-study committee recommends that the Retention Committee should examine the implications of raising class caps for student persistence and success.
Despite the assessment system focus on the GECC areas, certain disciplines, such as music or education, may require a discipline-level assessment when success in subsequent transfer work is dependent on a very specific sequence of discipline-specific skills. The system is responsive enough to allow for such discipline-level outcomes to be developed and assessed where appropriate. The self-study committee recommends careful monitoring of the change by the Core Team and Assessment Committee.
Because of the importance of Board involvement in supporting a culture of assessment, the self-study committee recommends that some reporting mechanism be added to the Assessment Plan to assure communication to the Board about assessment findings.
The culture of assessment can only be maintained if adjuncts and new faculty are given clear instruction in the system and expectations for their participation. The self-study committee suggests that the Assessment Committee design an orientation mechanism to ensure that new faculty members understand assessment tasks.
The most recent revision of the assessment system has revealed overlap of the general education competencies of mathematics and communications, which are also GECC areas. In addition, the faculty has provided evidence that it values diversity. The self-study committee suggests that when the faculty re-evaluates the general education competencies, these findings should be addressed.