SVCC HLC Self-Study Document

Sauk Valley Community College
HLC Self-Study Document

September 19-21, 2011

A Closing Reflection on the Self-Study

Aerial photo of the SVCC campusEach criterion study concludes with a listing of the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth that surfaced during the self-study process. In looking across the criteria and across the institution, however, an overarching view became possible. Here is a summary look at what we discovered about ourselves and our institution through this three-year journey of self-study and how we have responded:

link to an another section of the report Cross references have been provided to discussions that support the statements made in this closing section of the self-study.  The code represents the Criterion, Core Component, and numbered evidence statement.  Use the bookmarks or Table of Contents to locate the appropriate section.

What Did We Learn?

The self-study began revealing areas of need from the very first read-through of the criteria by the self-study committee. And directions for action kept on appearing even during the final review and discussion stage. As a result, the process of self-study has led and is leading to change for Sauk:

Actions We Took

As the study uncovered areas of concern, the steering committee balanced what could be repaired during the process with what should be revealed and subjected to scrutiny by a peer review team. Several situations were easily fixed:

  • Human research policy. The Criterion 4 committee became immediately aware that no formal policy was in place to guide ethical research practices, especially when human subjects are involved (Link to another section of the Self-Study4D.1). The policy and procedures were researched and drafted by a group of faculty and administrators, proposed to administration, and approved by the Board on June 21, 2010.
  • Assessment brochure. The Criterion 3 committee realized that an assessment brochure, which was a key piece in communicating the importance of assessment to students, had not been updated after changes were made to the system (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.6). This was corrected by the Assessment Core Team in time for updated copies to be provided for the summer 2010 orientation courses. In addition, the Orientation (PSY 100) outline was revised to specify the assessment-related outcomes that relate to the brochure (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.5).
  • Staffing. Several criterion committees expressed concerns about staffing levels as they looked over the planning documentation from the last five years. However, several of the open positions have been filled and others are underway. For example, an additional Instructional Technology Designer has been hired (Link to another section of the Self-Study3D.2); and plans are being finalized to add a position to handle all of the high school relations and recruitment activities in FY12 (Link to another section of the Self-Study5C.1).
  • Procedural issues: The study uncovered some procedural oversights:
    • The student complaint procedures were revised and efforts to inform students were renewed when after reviewing Federal Compliance requirements (Link to another section of the Self-Study1E.7).
    • The self-study revealed that the annual reports of the Assessment Committee were not being filed digitally. A place for these records was made in FAST (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.6).
    • The affirmative action procedure in Human Resources was amended to ensure that status as a federal contractor is verified before beginning work on the annual plan (Link to another section of the Self-Study1E.2). The self-study had revealed some confusion about whether creating a plan was an institutional or legal requirement.
    • A job description for Area Facilitator, which was created with the 2003 Assessment Plan, was moved into the official job description system and posted in FAST (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.1).

Actions We Are Taking

The self-study revealed areas of concern that warranted and received immediate attention, but which require time to bring to completion. Certain improvements have begun and will still be underway at the time of the Reaffirmation visit:

  • Handbooks. Although communication of most systems has improved tenfold from the days of paper documents, the self-study uncovered that the employee handbook system remained in the “silo” tradition of printing and storing paper copies in isolated offices. Several of the self-study committees either reported being unable to find handbooks or came up with a print copy of an outdated one. Appended to this report are draft copies of new digital handbooks for administration, professional/technical and support staff, adjunct faculty, and full-time faculty classifications. As the self-study report is completed, these are in various stages of review by the college community.
  • Program review. Sauk continues examining ways to strengthen the processes that contribute to planning. At its June 21, 2011, meeting, the President’s Cabinet discussed the need to make improvements to the program review process (Link to another section of the Self-Study2C.2). The Program Review Committee will be asked to revise the process to make it more beneficial to departments and the institution, strengthen planning and budgeting, and place emphasis on performance-based measures.
  • Academic integrity. In response to a spring faculty meeting that examined ethics assessment data and the resulting Operational Plans, a faculty taskforce was formed to address concerns related to communicating expectations for academic integrity which had also been addressed in the self-study (Link to another section of the Self-Study4D.1). The committee had its first meeting in May 2011 to consider suggestions made by the academic areas and will reconvene in fall 2011.
  • Public service. Because the college values community service, but only faculty routinely report their activities on their self-evaluations, the self-study committee recommended that the evaluation forms for administrators and staff should also include this question. This suggestion has been discussed in several President’s Cabinet meetings and is likely to be incorporated in the next revision of the evaluations.
  • Academic freedoms. The self-study committee expressed concern that although the Code of Conduct is made clear to students, no similar effort has been made to communicate the rights to academic freedoms granted by Board policy (Link to another section of the Self-Study4A.1). As a result, the Dean of Student Services is leading a project to summarize student rights and plans to begin an annual student notification during the fall of 2011.
  • Student expectations. In conjunction with the creation of a committee to develop an academic integrity statement, the Academic Vice President has polled the faculty on its concerns for student expectations and has asked the same taskforce to develop preliminary guidelines regarding classroom policies pertaining to issues such as attendance, late assignments, make up exams, classroom behavior, and other classroom practices. The entire faculty will have the opportunity to develop and discuss the guidelines, which would be added to the faculty handbooks. (Link to another section of the Self-Study1E.3)

Areas for Future Action

The thorough examination of Sauk from multiple perspectives and by various groups revealed several institution-level concerns that warrant careful attention as the college moves forward in its efforts to achieve its vision:

  • Student evaluation. One of the systems we often indicated as a concern in the self-study is the student evaluation system. We collect student input into facility issues but only faculty see the results (Link to another section of the Self-Study3D.1). We have not developed a standard student evaluation process for online courses, which is just now being addressed (Link to another section of the Self-Study3C.1). We are still using a paper evaluation tool even though we have demonstrated through several successful assessment projects that IS/IT has the in-house capacity to make the system digital (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.2). Having demonstrated our commitment to making data-influenced decisions and the value we place on student input, we are aware of the need to update and revise this system to enable us to better hear student voices on how we may improve the institution.
  • Public relations. Humility is not a virtue when stakeholders aren’t getting adequate information about the college’s value to the community. The self-study shows we could do a better job of trumpeting our successes to the district. Although our web presence has grown and we are now making use of several types of social media (Link to another section of the Self-Study5B.2), we discovered that we were neither publishing employee accomplishments in the local press (Link to another section of the Self-Study4A.5), nor are we adequately publicizing the good news of our assessment results to our stakeholders (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.5). The college has demonstrated that it serves the community, so some campus-wide initiative to improve our public relations awareness and create better connections to our marketing efforts should improve our local communication of how we achieve our Mission.
  • Assessment system. While proud of how mature our assessment system has become compared to its condition ten years ago, we recognize that the self-study revealed several areas of need and directions for continued growth. We need to improve communication of results, especially to the public, but also to the Board of Trustees and to students (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.5). New faculty members need orientation to the system and expectations for their involvement to ensure the continued strength of faculty direction of the system (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.1). The Core Team needs to lead the faculty in a review of the general education competencies based on the self-study findings and the most recent system revision (Link to another section of the Self-Study4B.1).
  • System integration. The self-study revealed directions for our continued integration of the planning and assessment systems. Overall, we are benefitting from adding in broader perspectives, but we aren’t where we want to be in integrating and aligning all of the elements. The planning process could benefit from more routine inclusion of student and external constituent input (Link to another section of the Self-Study2D.5). The periodic institutional data collections (Noel Levitz, for example) need better connection into the broader decision-making system, especially into operational planning (Link to another section of the Self-Study5D.1). And academic assessment data needs to be more available to support areas like the Counseling Office, for example, during operational planning (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.4). Because both our systems are designed to respond to change, these identified growth opportunities will be responded to during the coming year. Evidence that improved alignment continues to develop may be seen in the marketing plan presented to the Board of Trustees at their June 2011 meeting. For the first time, the plan is specifically aligned with the college's Strategic Directions, providing evidence that our determination to work toward our Vision is being embedded in various systems outside of planning and assessment.
  • Staffing. We face considerable challenge if the local and state economic climates continue to deteriorate. Although the existence of the cash surplus provides us a vital safety net for the short term, careful consideration will have to be given as decisions are made. As faculty and staff turnover occurs, attention is needed to safeguard essential tasks and activities when jobs are combined or cut (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.7). The IS/IT department has been especially identified as an area to receive priority (Link to another section of the Self-Study3D.2). Our increased use of adjunct faculty requires additional attention to training and support (Link to another section of the Self-Study4A.2). Much of this decision-making will happen in President’s Cabinet, but our operational planning process will play an important role in campus-wide efforts to preserve quality service and fulfill the Strategic Goals and Objectives.
  • Benchmarking. The concept of benchmarking is central to continuous improvement efforts. The self-study revealed that this aspect of planning and assessment could benefit from our increased attention and professional development. The recent addition of the Key Performance Indicators to the Strategic Directions should help build more awareness of its importance throughout the various planning systems (Link to another section of the Self-Study2C.3). Although the assessment system clearly values benchmarks for CAAP testing and various other measures (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.3), the concept has receded from the place of prominence it held in the 2003 assessment system. Professional development in this area is on our schedule for FY12 to begin the process of increasing campus community awareness of benchmarking’s importance in driving continuous improvement.
  • Professional development is of vital importance in our efforts to move from Mission to Vision. Although improvements have been made since the last comprehensive evaluation, professional development emerged during the self-study as a continued area of concern for our future. The self-study recommended an increase in the identification of topics of interest and increased funding for staff and administrator development in job-related areas (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.8). Possible funding for adjunct faculty development (Link to another section of the Self-Study4A.2) and better tracking and sharing of topics of interest to the college being covered at conferences (Link to another section of the Self-Study3B.2) are among the ideas for us to address. Increased emphasis on professional development will allow us to respond to outside mandates and to carry out the Strategic Plan, as well as to pursue continuous improvement.

As the completed self-study report is read and discussed by the college community, we expect that other concerns and ideas will surface to be discussed, based on both the findings of the report and on issues we may have overlooked.

The Four Themes

As we look across the evidence we have presented as we measure the college against the HLC Criteria, we count as strength the extent to which we have also shown that Sauk practices the values embodied in the four HLC themes:

Connected

  • Collaboration: We are a good partner, both to our local service organizations and to other institutions, which also allows us to extend our capacity for service (Link to another section of the Self-Study5A.1). The organization reaches out to the local high schools (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.6), the Hispanic community (Link to another section of the Self-Study2A.4), our business community and numerous not-for-profit agencies in the district (Link to another section of the Self-Study5C.4 and Link to another section of the Self-Study5D.2). The self-study highlights many different types of partnerships that we have entered to our mutual advantage (Link to another section of the Self-Study5C.1), including internet partnerships that allow us to expand program access (Link to another section of the Self-Study3C.1). In addition, the integrated nature of our planning systems provides opportunity for collaborative efforts internally. The committee structure, for example, enables interdepartmental collaboration like that demonstrated by coordination of tutor training (Link to another section of the Self-Study3D.4).
  • Communication: As an integral part of designing strategic planning and assessment systems following the 2002 HLC Reaffirmation Visit, we sought to establish healthy internal communications (Link to another section of the Self-StudyHistory). The means for communicating have been improved by moving most documents, procedures, and minutes to an easily accessible internal website (Link to another section of the Self-Study1D.5). Adequate time for meetings is an essential component of the planning and assessment systems (Link to another section of the Self-Study2C.4). Our planning processes have been designed to ensure cross-institutional employee involvement (Link to another section of the Self-Study2A.3). The lines of authority are clearly established (Link to another section of the Self-Study1D.1) and documented (Link to another section of the Self-Study1D.2). The learning organization principle of shared governance plays an important part in maintaining the expectation of communication (Link to another section of the Self-Study1C.1), which has been supported by increased communication of administrative meeting minutes (Link to another section of the Self-Study1D.5).
  • Culture of service: We are an institution made up of individuals who believe in serving others. The 62 employees who completed the 2009 employee survey named 280 distinct organizations that they serve, which seems a significant contribution to our various communities (Link to another section of the Self-Study5B.2). And we demonstrate that service ethic in the workplace, including the massive effort involved in the self-study (Link to another section of the Self-StudyProcess): The single parent committee arranges weekly lunches for the campus all summer to raise scholarship funds (Link to another section of the Self-Study5C.4); the members of the staff professional development committee sell popcorn weekly during the school year to supplement their budget (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.8); faculty volunteers demonstrate classroom technologies at the tech fair and in presentations (Link to another section of the Self-Study3B.4). We realize we need to consider a way to assess whether the service we model is rubbing off on the students; however, it is apparent in the activities of some clubs and organizations: for example, the blood drive run by SGA and nursing students (Link to another section of the Self-Study5D.2) and various Phi Theta Kappa and A.L.A.S. service projects (Link to another section of the Self-Study4C.4).
  • Engagement with the community: We have multiple points of linkage into the surrounding community (Link to another section of the Self-Study5B.1). Because we are a unique kind of organization in the area, both as an educational institution and as a facility (Link to another section of the Self-Study5B.4), we serve the common good in as many ways as we can. We reach into the community not only for recruitment (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.6), but also to foster engagement with the college by those who might be otherwise prevented from seeking education (Link to another section of the Self-Study5A.2). We are an important provider of workforce development services (Link to another section of the Self-Study5D.5) and local continuing education needs (Link to another section of the Self-Study5D.6). We seek to know the needs of the community through regular environmental scanning (Link to another section of the Self-Study2A.2) and including the community in evaluation of services (Link to another section of the Self-Study5D.3). Our program review (Link to another section of the Self-Study 4C.1), internal planning processes (Link to another section of the Self-Study2D.5), and academic programs (Link to another section of the Self-Study4C.2) seek and apply input from both our students and the surrounding community. We have policies and procedures to ensure that these connections are maintained with integrity (Link to another section of the Self-Study1E.5).
  • Integrated planning: In the 2002 Focused Visit Report, the combined visit on both strategic planning and assessment was characterized as a “synergy” (and in a reflective context as “a gift”) because in having to bring both systems up at once, we were given an opportunity to close the loop between them. With the learning organization concept providing the foundation (Link to another section of the Self-Study1C.1), planning, assessment and budget processes are connected to each other (Link to another section of the Self-Study2D.1), and periodic reviews built into our individual systems provide the mechanism for continued growth of the systems and the ways that they connect (Link to another section of the Self-Study1D.6).
  • Mission-driven connections: The Strategic Directions establish service to students and the community as the foundation of all of the college’s connections (Link to another section of the Self-Study1A.3). The Shared Ethical Values direct us in how we maintain these connections (Link to another section of the Self-Study1B.1). Carrying out these connections with integrity is accomplished through clear and fair policies (Link to another section of the Self-Study1E.3). Serving the “diverse needs” of our students manifests itself in a variety of programs that help to remove barriers to education (Link to another section of the Self-Study1A.3) and promote diversity awareness among students (Link to another section of the Self-Study4C.4). Recognition of the “diverse needs” of the community leads us to provide meaningful outreach programs that serve the academic needs (Link to another section of the Self-Study5A.3) and the diversity awareness of our district (Link to another section of the Self-Study5C.3).
  • Subject to regulation: We recognize that we exist within a framework of various regulatory agencies. The expectations of the HLC are only one of the sets of regulations with which we are connected. The state of Illinois provides oversight through the Illinois Community College Board (Link to another section of the Self-Study1A.3), and various state and federal laws direct college policy (Link to another section of the Self-Study1E.2). We are also voluntarily a member of the Illinois Articulation Initiative (Link to another section of the Self-Study1A.5). In the case of auxiliary services, we expect service providers to demonstrate integrity in their compliance with regulations (Link to another section of the Self-Study1E.4).
  • Student connections: We recognize the importance of student interactions with faculty and with each other (Link to another section of the Self-Study3C.2). We offer multiple learning environments (Link to another section of the Self-Study3C.1) to allow our students the broadest possible choice of access to learning. Our recruitment programs reach out to provide help to students in seeking an education, and our support programs reach out to ensure that students are connected to appropriate kinds of academic (Link to another section of the Self-Study3C.3) and personal (Link to another section of the Self-Study3C.4) support. Underprepared students receive help (Link to another section of the Self-Study3C.5). We seek student input when evaluating services (Link to another section of the Self-Study5D.1).

Distinctive

  • Accountable: The HLC expectation that “a distinctive organization is willing to be accountable for fulfilling its unique mission” is met in our commitment to assure our fiscal honesty (Link to another section of the Self-Study1E.1) and to represent the college accurately to our stakeholders (Link to another section of the Self-Study1E.6). Annual reports provide assurance that budget and planning decisions link to the college’s Mission (Link to another section of the Self-Study1C.2). We are mindful of our relationship with the district’s taxpayers and tuition-paying students (Link to another section of the Self-Study2A.1) and our mission imperative to provide high quality education (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.3).
  • Committed to improvement: The design of our strategic planning system is founded on the principles of continuous improvement (Link to another section of the Self-Study1C.1) that may be seen in the components of the various planning systems (Link to another section of the Self-Study2C.1). The Mission itself is subject to systematic review (Link to another section of the Self-Study1A.2), which is also a result of the rolling nature of our Strategic Plan (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.2). Our annual operational planning process (Link to another section of the Self-Study1C.2) and regular program review (Link to another section of the Self-Study2C.2) provide continuous improvement opportunities for the entire college community, which can be demonstrated in the evaluation of learning resources (Link to another section of the Self-Study3D.3). Our assessment system also undergoes annual review to ensure appropriate changes occur (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.6).
  • Faculty-driven assessment: At Sauk, assessment of student learning is entirely in the hands of faculty, which also control the curriculum (Link to another section of the Self-Study3B.1). Although administrators provide support and official approval of actions proposed, the faculty Core Team is responsible for design and review of our system (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.1). The Institutional Research Office collaborates with and supplements faculty efforts instead of directing them (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.6). The collaboration of the faculty in cross-curricular projects and discussions has enhanced the connection between assessment data and institutional improvement (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.2). Our operational planning process provides a direct link of the assessment of the general education curriculum (Link to another section of the Self-Study4B.2) and program outcomes (Link to another section of the Self-Study1A.5) to the Strategic Directions.
  • Founded on Mission: Our distinctive Mission is articulated in a set of clearly defined mission documents called the Strategic Directions, which include the Mission, Vision, Shared Ethical Values, Strategic Goals and Objectives, and the Key Performance Indicators (Link to another section of the Self-Study1A.1). The Strategic Directions are embedded in the thinking of the institution by the way they are kept in regular contact with the community (Link to another section of the Self-Study1A.4). Revisions of the strategic planning system have aligned our strategic planning system with the Mission, which is evidenced by mission-linked decisions (Link to another section of the Self-Study1C.3). The operating surplus in the budget also provides evidence of this alignment (Link to another section of the Self-Study2D.2).
  • Honors the worth of individuals: The Shared Ethical Values commitment to “respect the worth and dignity of all people” (Link to another section of the Self-Study1B.1) is evident in our Strategic Goals and in our commitment to aid learners in overcoming a variety of barriers (Link to another section of the Self-Study1B.2). This respect also underlies outreach initiatives to Hispanic and other minority groups (Link to another section of the Self-Study2A.4 and Link to another section of the Self-Study5A.2). We also act on this value in the way we honor student (Link to another section of the Self-Study4A.4) and employee (Link to another section of the Self-Study4A.5) accomplishments.
  • Reflective: Our planning and assessment systems are data influenced, but also discussion based (Link to another section of the Self-Study2C.1) Faculty are provided several avenues for discussion of curricular issues (Link to another section of the Self-Study1D.4). Support for planning and assessment includes time for a variety of meetings and activities (Link to another section of the Self-Study2C.4). All of the various planning systems involve a cross section of the campus community; for example, our committees are cross-institutional so all can feel their particular interests were represented (Link to another section of the Self-Study2A.3). Shared governance, insofar as it is defined as having a voice while decisions are being made, is embedded in our culture (Link to another section of the Self-Study1C.1).

Future-oriented

  • Environmental scanning: With OPIC’s rejection of the SWOT and the work of the Dean of Institutional Research and Planning to design a data-influenced planning system, the whole organization is better equipped to be future-oriented (Link to another section of the Self-Study2A.2). Our planning activities and documents demonstrate that attention is being given to emerging factors that will affect the college (Link to another section of the Self-Study2A.2). A case in point is the study requested by the Board that looked at how the district compares to those of rapidly growing community colleges (Link to another section of the Self-StudyEconomic Context).
  • Mission-driven: Actions that we have taken over the past few years demonstrate the effectiveness of our alignment of Sauk’s Strategic Plan with the Mission (Link to another section of the Self-Study1C.3). Employees and faculty are qualified to carry out the mission commitment to provide quality education (Link to another section of the Self-Study1D.3). Our Mission is irrevocably paired with our Vision, which results in a systemic incentive for continuous improvement. This incentive can be seen in the ways the planning system allows innovation (Link to another section of the Self-Study2A.5). It can be seen in the learning organization culture that underlies assumptions (Link to another section of the Self-Study1C.1). It can be seen in the rolling nature of our planning process, which is poised to raise the bar when possible (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.2).
    Diagram showing mission helping SVCC achieve its vision through strategic goals and objectives.
  • Prepared graduates: The faculty has established a general education core curriculum and a set of general education competencies that prepare our students for the world in which they will live and work (Link to another section of the Self-Study4B.1). Among the general education competencies regularly assessed are those that address preparation for life in a fast-changing society (Link to another section of the Self-Study4C.3). Preparation to live and work in a diverse world is carried out in a variety of academic activities (Link to another section of the Self-Study4C.4) and outreach activities (Link to another section of the Self-Study5B.3). Relevance of courses and programs is assured through our program review process (Link to another section of the Self-Study4C.1). Curricular and co-curricular activities extend student learning outside the classroom (Link to another section of the Self-Study4B.4). We assess preparedness for continued learning or occupational skills by various means (Link to another section of the Self-Study4B.5). Planning supports this preparation (Link to another section of the Self-Study2D.4). Transfer policies support our students who seek preparation to continue their studies (Link to another section of the Self-Study5C.2).
  • Regular review: In order to avoid a static system that is not flexible enough to respond as circumstances require, our planning and assessment systems include regularly scheduled review (Link to another section of the Self-Study1D.6). The rolling process of our strategic planning also provides responsiveness to change needed to the Strategic Directions (Link to another section of the Self-Study2D.3). We also regularly monitor our fiscal capacity to ensure adequate support for educational programs and services (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.4) and for the facility (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.5).
  • Support for innovation: Because the need for innovation often does not fall neatly into a planning year, our system is set up to support changes initiated outside of the planning system (Link to another section of the Self-Study2A.5). Effective deployment of human resources is also an ongoing concern that often incorporates innovative solutions (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.7).
  • Technology: One might think a small, cash-strapped community college would be struggling to keep up. Not so. We have identified the use of technology as a vital factor for the college to improve administrative and instructional services (Link to another section of the Self-Study2A.2 and Link to another section of the Self-Study3B.5). Use of funding bonds has enabled us to purchase equipment (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.4). We are continuously advancing the computer technology available to students (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.5 and Link to another section of the Self-Study3B.5) and maintaining an array of technology-enhanced course environments (Link to another section of the Self-Study3C.6). The Instructional Technology staff makes professional development opportunities and information readily available for staff, as evidenced by their website resources and the tech showcase (Link to another section of the Self-Study3B.4). A range of technology support is also available to enrich career programs (Link to another section of the Self-Study3B.5). The Information Services staff supports our efforts to use technology effectively for administrative tasks (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.7), gathers and stores data (Link to another section of the Self-Study2A.5), provides access to wireless and other digital networks, including the LRC databases (Link to another section of the Self-Study3C.6), maintains website and social networking resources (Link to another section of the Self-Study5B.2), and oversees compliance with the Acceptable Use Policy (Link to another section of the Self-Study4D.2).

Learning Focused

  • Assess learning: Our assessment system allows us to value what students know and can do and use those results to help improve at multiple levels: from classroom instruction to course or program changes to institutional changes (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.4). Faculty are responsible for curriculum (Link to another section of the Self-Study1D.4) and for the assessment system (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.1). Course outlines are based on clearly stated learning outcomes (Link to another section of the Self-Study1A.5). We provide support for personnel, time, data collection and professional development necessary to sustain the system (Link to another section of the Self-Study2C.4). We assess transfer and career programs through a variety of measures (Link to another section of the Self-Study4B.5). The design of our strategic planning system allows assessment data to influence operational planning and program review (Link to another section of the Self-Study4B.2).
  • Data-influenced decision-making: The learning organization context has created an expectation that our discussions will start from data (Link to another section of the Self-Study1C.1). The Strategic Directions include Key Performance Indicators that allow progress toward the Vision to be measured (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.1), and environmental scanning forms the basis of our planning (Link to another section of the Self-Study2A.2). Assessment data is applied by faculty in proposing curricular change or budget requests (Link to another section of the Self-Study1D.4). Improvements to learning resources and the creation of a testing center exemplify our use of data in strategic planning (Link to another section of the Self-Study3D.4). We also maintain policies that allow us to track and respond to complaints in a way that supports appropriate individual response and system change when called for (Link to another section of the Self-Study1E.7).
  • Learning organization: Our intentional adoption of O’Banion’s Learning College model in 2005 was accompanied by professional development on the general concept of learning organizations (Link to another section of the Self-Study1C.1). Although that particular model was not sustainable given the college’s capacity (Link to another section of the Self-Study2A.1), we remain firmly committed to the central concepts of continuous improvement available to a learning organization as we have created and improved our planning systems (Link to another section of the Self-Study2C.1).
  • Student support: Beyond the obvious emphasis on assessing course outcomes to improve teaching and learning (Link to another section of the Self-Study3A.3), we understand that students’ academic success is also limited by a variety of life circumstances and barriers. Programs like the Early Alert System and Crisis Intervention Team are examples of the innovative response we provide to the personal needs of our students, in conjunction with an ongoing array of programs (Link to another section of the Self-Study3C.4). The extent to which we provide support to underprepared students also shows our commitment to help students be successful learners (Link to another section of the Self-Study3C.5). Continued status as a Trio SSS grant recipient recognizes this commitment to student success (Link to another section of the Self-Study5A.2). Our facility and our learning resources support teaching and learning (Link to another section of the Self-Study3D.1 and Link to another section of the Self-Study3D.2)
  • Support scholarship: To the degree appropriate to a community college, both faculty and students are extended opportunities to engage in research and scholarly projects (Link to another section of the Self-Study4A.3). Freedom of inquiry for students and faculty is extended in Board policy and honored by the administration (Link to another section of the Self-Study4A.1). We maintain an honors program to encourage student scholarship (Link to another section of the Self-Study4A.3) and regularly recognize student accomplishments (Link to another section of the Self-Study4A.4). Commitment to high academic standards permeates our academic processes and practices (Link to another section of the Self-Study1A.5). Our policy and practice supports important concepts of academic integrity (Link to another section of the Self-Study4D.1), integrity of research and practice (Link to another section of the Self-Study4D.3), and ethical use of technology (Link to another section of the Self-Study4D.2).
  • Professional development: Sauk faculty, staff, and administrators are provided an array of professional development opportunities (Link to another section of the Self-Study2B.8 and Link to another section of the Self-Study4A.2). Professional development supports our planning and assessment systems (Link to another section of the Self-Study2C.4), addresses teaching and learning (Link to another section of the Self-Study3B.2), and disseminates information about college policies (Link to another section of the Self-Study4D.2). Much of our in-house professional development for teaching and learning, as well as extensive technology training, is provided by the Instructional Technology staff (Link to another section of the Self-Study3D.2).
  • Supports lifelong learning: We promote a life of learning not only for our internal constituents but also for the surrounding community. The value we place on a life of learning is evidenced by professional development opportunities described above, but also by the efforts of the Instructional Technology Office to provide information on new technologies (Link to another section of the Self-Study3B.4) and especially by the tuition waivers that are available to employees and their families to take Sauk courses (Link to another section of the Self-Study4A.2). For students, encouragement to a life of learning comes in part through our provision of academic freedoms (Link to another section of the Self-Study4A.1) and a variety of curricular and co-curricular activities (Link to another section of the Self-Study4B.4). For the surrounding community, we invite lifelong learning through cultural events that are open to the public (Link to another section of the Self-Study5C.3) and the many outreach programs designed to increase access to education. The Personal and Professional Development Office helps over 3,000 people a year to participate in learning activities (Link to another section of the Self-Study5A.3).