CRITERION III: Accomplishments

NCA Report
Table of Contents

NCA Report
UNI Web Space

Full Report
Download a printable version of the full report in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format.

UNI NCA Committee Site

B. The University assesses appropriate student academic achievement in all its programs

Since the last NCA accreditation in 1991, the University of Northern Iowa has made great progress in implementing assessment processes. This progress is grounded in an ongoing commitment to institutional improvement, the foundation of which is excellence in teaching and well-organized feedback mechanisms that provide faculty with information for program improvement. We learn a great deal from our students about our institution and its programs through assessment processes and anticipate continuing to monitor and improve them in the coming years.

Following a detailed overview of student outcomes assessment practices at UNI, four indicators are discussed: (1) the University strives to prepare students with knowledge, skills, and values essential for all college-educated persons; (2) all undergraduate students are expected to complete an identifiable and coherent general education component; (3) student mastery of knowledge and skills is appropriate to the degree awarded; and, (4) UNI faculty control the evaluation of student learning and the awarding of academic credit.

Overview of Student Outcomes Assessment Student outcomes assessment is now an integral part of Academic Program Review, the results of which are used to guide program improvement. Outcomes assessment is conducted and utilized by each academic program on a yearly basis, with summaries of assessment data and subsequent program changes reported as part of the Academic Program Review process to the Board of Regents. Some examples of program changes resulting from recent program review and outcomes assessment processes are described here:

1.The Department of Earth Science has revised its Environmental Emphasis in the Geology major to include field study courses in various areas of earth science that better serve student interests and needs (Annual Report on Academic Program Review, March, 1999).

2.The program review and outcomes assessment processes conducted in the Department of Social Work helped support the rationale for establishing a new Masters in Social Work (MSW) program. The program proposal for an MSW was approved by the University and the Board of Regents in 1999 and is now in place (Annual Report on Academic Program Review, March, 1999).

3.As a result of its outcomes assessment and program review processes, the Master's in Business Administration (MBA) program developed a new modular scheduling protocol to better fit the needs of its students, 90% of whom are professionals who live within a 60-mile radius of Cedar Falls. The curriculum was also revised to provide more emphasis on communication and presentation skills and increased emphasis on leadership and group-process skills (Annual Report on Academic Program Review, March, 1999).

4.Program review and outcomes assessment processes in the Finance program indicated a need for restructuring of the introductory finance course. Consulting with the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching, the department utilized an ad hoc committee to study the course and implement changes (Annual Report on Academic Program Review, March, 2000).

5.For the School Library Media Studies program, a final program portfolio has replaced the requirement of a comprehensive exam. Pre-portfolio sessions clarify for students the expected outcomes, while the faculty now continuously revise rubrics and other assessment instruments (Annual Report on Academic Program Review, March, 2000).

6.As a result of program review and outcomes assessment processes, the B.A. and M.A. degrees in Science have been dropped from the curriculum (Annual Report on Academic Program Review, March, 2000).

In 1989, UNI began to organize its outcomes assessment efforts on an institution-wide basis with the formation of an Assessment Committee consisting of faculty representatives from each of the Colleges, as well as representatives from Educational and Student Services, Alumni Relations, and Institutional Research. As the Assessment Committee began the process of developing institutional policies and practices to guide assessment activities, a 1990 Board of Regents mandate for student outcomes assessment at the Regent institutions (which was based on the statement of principles on student outcomes assessment developed by the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges) gave further stimulus to this effort.

Beginning in 1991, the Board required the presentation of an annual report on Student Outcomes Assessment (SOA), with the intent that this effort result in meaningful improvement in student learning. In May 1997, at the recommendation of an external consulting service, the Pappas Group, the Board adopted a recommendation to merge Student Outcomes Assessment with the yearly Academic Program Review report.

Through these several years of the definition and development of our assessment programs, faculty members and administrators have been regular participants in the Association of American Colleges and Universities annual assessment conferences. Participation in these conferences has allowed members of the University community to develop expertise in outcomes assessment and bring that expertise home to share with colleagues and apply as programs have been developed and implemented. Assessment Committee members have also participated in other assessment-related professional development opportunities and continue to serve on related committees, including those that address the institution's strategic plan, the General Education Committee, and various curriculum committees.

UNI submitted an assessment plan to the NCA in 1995 in response to the NCA's mandate that all accredited institutions formulate viable assessment plans. NCA Consultant-Evaluators reviewed UNI's assessment plan and concluded at that time that the plan met the Commission's expectations. In their review, Consultant-Evaluators observed, "UNI is to be commended for linking outcomes assessment with program review and strategic planning and for recognizing that judgments regarding the quality of academic programs provide important information as a basis for strategic planning activities." They further observed that "the institution wisely makes explicit the need for involving students in the process in such a way as to allow them to see the value of assessment and motivate them to participate sincerely" (NCA letter, February 26, 1996).

The Rationale for Student Outcomes Assessment at UNI

Student outcomes assessment (SOA) practices at UNI are guided by the "Student Outcomes Assessment Policy" developed by the Assessment Committee, approved by the Faculty Senate and the Provost, and implemented in 1991. The SOA Policy defined the policies and practices for the implementation and administration of student outcomes assessment activities. This report also provided specific guidelines for academic departments for developing SOA plans and several "hypothetical" assessment plans that served as models for departmental assessment committees as they commenced their work. The SOA Policy continues to provide the guiding principles of operation for the program.

Policies and practices for outcomes assessment at UNI are grounded in the following definition:

Student outcomes assessment is a process by which evidence of the congruence between an institution's stated mission, goals and objectives, and the actual outcomes of its academic programs are assembled and analyzed in order to improve teaching and learning and enhance goal congruence. UNI SOA Policy

At UNI, we see four basic purposes for our student outcomes assessment program:

1.Outcomes assessment is an instrument of quality assurance, providing data that can be used to improve the quality of teaching and learning.

2.Through its role in academic program review and strategic planning, outcomes assessment promotes the rational, orderly evolution and improvement of the institution and its programs.

3.Outcomes assessment provides a basis for faculty cooperation, improved integration within and among courses and programs, and support for the development of interdisciplinary courses and programs.

Outcomes assessment helps to make the institution more responsive to its primary constituencies, including students, parents, accrediting bodies, potential employers, various public agencies, and others. The external purpose supports needs for resources and claims of excellence.

Through these functions, student outcomes assessment helps us to focus on the need to answer the following fundamental questions:

What should students learn?

2.How well are they learning it?

3.How do we know?

Student outcomes assessment at UNI is a goal-directed process. Through the data collected, the process permits the analysis of information and the adjustment and revision of programs and activities in relation to broad institutional goals, specific program goals, and particular course goals. As student outcomes assessment processes continue to develop and mature at UNI, the integration of and interaction with academic program review and strategic planning processes at the institution remain a strength of our approach.

Organization of Student Outcomes Assessment at UNI
From the outset, the development and implementation of student outcomes assessment plans at UNI have primarily been the responsibility of each academic program's faculty. SOA Committees at the departmental level were initially responsible for developing SOA plans (with administrative support) in accordance with the SOA policy. Those committees continue to work with department heads to administer and monitor ongoing assessment activities and to analyze and interpret assessment results for the purpose of improving academic programs.

Academic departments summarize and report their assessment activities on a regular basis to the University Assessment Committee and the Office of the Provost. In addition, the University Assessment Committee has reviewed departmental assessment plans and results and recommended improvements. Until 1996, a summary report of SOA activities was also submitted to the Board of Regents. As stated earlier, the SOA process was integrated with Academic Program Review in 1997. Since then, the SOA portion of the Academic Program Review has been expanded and will continue to be a major element in Academic Program Review.

Procedures for Student Outcomes Assessment at UNI
According to the UNI SOA policy, student outcomes must be related to broad institutional goals, specific program goals, and particular course goals. The application of outcomes measures at all these levels helps assessment activities serve both institutional and program-specific goals for improvement and link SOA activities more closely with the University's strategic planning, academic program review, and other institutional improvement processes. Such an approach is consistent with the University's mission to support exemplary academic programs. It also helps faculty and administrators to respond analytically and deliberatively to assessment feedback.

There are five basic stages (or points in time) at which student assessment occurs at UNI:

1.Admission to the University This stage provides pre-enrollment baseline data. A key ingredient to student outcomes is what students bring to the University.

2.Declaration of Major This level of assessment provides input data for students entering their selected majors.

3.Mid-Program This level of assessment is aimed primarily at assessing progress in the major program.

4.Program Completion This stage measures student outcomes at the completion of the major.

5.Post-graduation The final stage of outcomes assessment measures longer-term effects of the educational experience.

According to UNI's SOA policy, outcomes assessment at the program level occurs each academic year, with assessment results analyzed by program faculty and utilized to guide changes in the curriculum and adjustments in other aspects of the students' experience of the program. Several examples of such program changes have been cited earlier in this report. Individual departments have developed outcomes assessment plans that are in compliance with SOA policies and procedures and fit the needs of their program. SOA procedures, findings and results are also part of the Academic Program Review process, which is required for each academic program at UNI according to the Program Review Master Calendar (Detailed Procedures for Academic Program Review, 2000-01).

The nature of assessment makes it important to avoid relying on only one assessment measure, since such reliance could result in misleading perceptions and conclusions about program needs and student performance. For this reason, when program SOA plans have been designed and implemented at UNI, multiple measures of assessment have been included at various stages (see above) in the assessment process.

Department-level assessment committees have determined various measures of assessment, based on their judgment as to which measures would provide the most useful information. The UNI SOA policy requires that all students be assessed on a sample of outcomes or that a sample of students be assessed on all outcomes. Methods of assessment that are currently in use include the following examples:

1.Admission to the university and/or declaration of major analysis of transcripts, GPAs, high school ranks, achievement test scores, institutional profile reports, and institutional data, etc.

2.Declaration of major, mid-program, and/or program completion portfolios, interviews, surveys, self-assessments by students, performance recital/exhibit/ research, practicum/intern/work experience, comprehensive examination (written or oral), senior project or thesis, testing, grade analyses, retention studies, enrollment data, etc.

3.Post-graduation Regents Retention Study, Alumni Relations Survey, Employer Survey, interviews with alumni, graduate school entrance exam results, graduate school acceptance rates, professional licensing exam success rates, etc.

Beyond the gathering of assessment data as specified in each departmental assessment plan is the essential step of interpretation and evaluation of results. SOA committees at the departmental level again play the central role in this process. Results of student outcomes assessment, which are summarized in regular reports and reported to department faculty, department heads and college deans, provide essential feedback for program improvement and also help us to acknowledge accomplishment of outcomes. Student outcomes assessment data, as discussed earlier in this report, are also reported and analyzed in depth during the Academic Program Review (APR) process. The APR process, which includes a self-study by department faculty, an on-site visit by at least two expert external reviewers, follow-up discussions with the Provost and college dean, and implementation of a Program Plan, insures that SOA data provide decision support for changes in programs and other ongoing program improvement efforts.

Examples of applications of post-graduation outcomes assessment data from several departments provides a closer look at how SOA data is used for decision support for program improvement efforts:

1.The Department of Geography conducts its own alumni survey. Survey results are incorporated into curricular discussions. For example, the 1992 survey results indicated the need to provide more experiences for students in geographic information systems (GIS) technology. As a result, new courses have been developed and appropriate geographic imaging equipment and software have been acquired.

2.The Department of Communicative Disorders surveys alumni on a regular basis. Data from a recent alumni survey of graduates working in the field indicated that they were not adequately prepared to conduct home visits as part of professional practice. As a result, the Communicative Disorders Clinic initiated home visits as part of the department's clinical routine and, thus, the students' practicum experience.

3.The Department of Special Education seeks input from both its graduates and from their employers about the effectiveness of students' professional preparation. Results provide information such as graduates' own perceptions of their competency and of the quality of UNI's program, as well as the supervisors' assessment of the graduate's professional effectiveness in several areas. This information is utilized on a continuous basis for course revisions and curriculum change processes.

4.UNI's Educational Leadership program surveys each cohort in the year following graduation. Most recently, feedback from alumni surveys contributed to a decision to reduce clinical components in the program by one half and add a new course in Technology for Administrative Instructional Leadership.

5.The Psychology Department utilizes both its own and the University's alumni surveys. Input from these surveys is used to guide curricular change. Most recently such feedback indicated undergraduates needed more practical experiences. As a result, a course in "Community Service: Experiential Learning in Psychology" and a course in "Psychology and Law" have been added to the curriculum.

6.In the Department of Management, a recent alumni survey revealed that the C programming languages are becoming more popular because they provide a better platform for learning new web-based languages. As a result, the Management Information Systems (MIS) faculty revised the curriculum, converting the primary programming language in the department from Pascal to C. C is now the primary language taught in the program.

Alumni from the Department of Marketing, through the department alumni survey, reported that the rapid growth of e-commerce is quickly changing the marketing profession. As a result, an Internet-based e-business course was designed and is now being offered.

Challenges and Goals for Student Outcomes Assessment
UNI's history of student outcomes assessment and academic program review reveals an institution that is striving to learn and grow through self-examination. As we look ahead to the next several years, we recognize the need to retain our "faculty-centered" approach to outcomes assessment, with responsibility for development, revision, and implementation of outcomes assessment occurring at the departmental level. This approach has allowed us to accommodate discipline-specific approaches to assessment that, we believe, contribute to faculty satisfaction with assessment results and to better decision-making about program improvement. We also are committed to maintaining and improving the integration of assessment activities with academic program review and strategic planning processes -- linkages that were applauded by the NCA nearly five years ago.

That having been said, this NCA self-study reminds us that progress in outcomes assessment has not been an entirely smooth path, and we have challenges before us that will need to be addressed as we continue to move forward. One ongoing challenge is maintaining faculty support and enthusiasm for outcomes assessment. Involving faculty in the process and providing in-service opportunities that both educate faculty in conducting assessment and illustrate the value to both faculty and administrators of assessment processes are important ways to achieve "buy-in" and insure successful SOA processes. As relatively large numbers of new faculty join the UNI community, it will be even more important for the institution to maintain faculty support and continue to educate all constituency groups on the importance of assessment. Though all agree that keeping academic assessment faculty-driven is essential, we will need to continue to ensure that assessment remains a meaningful, effective, and vibrant means for program improvement and not an end in itself.

Outcomes assessment processes have been institutionalized. We have seen more continuity in program oversight and support since the position of Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs became a permanent rather than rotating position in July 1999. Assessment processes can falter when department heads change and when departmental faculty "experts" on outcomes assessment depart. Additionally, administrative coordination has now been improved with the integration of student outcomes assessment and academic program review processes. The Associate VPAA now oversees the assessment processes.

The following goals have been established for student outcomes assessment for 2000-2001:

1.Establish a web-based source of SOA plans and reports that is accessible for reference by all faculty. Such a source will encourage assessment committee members and department heads to exchange information and utilize their colleagues' experience and expertise.

2.Expand integration and use of outcomes assessment data within the self-study portion of the Academic Program Review process.

3.Provide regular and ongoing in-service opportunities and other professional development activities for involving new department heads and new members of departmental assessment committees in SOA.

4.Insure that the institutional research office provides adequate and appropriate data to support decisions for program improvement.

5.Define more fully the role of the University Assessment Committee. The Assessment Committee was originally charged with developing SOA policy and procedures and then with reviewing departmental assessment plans and reports. Now that the assessment program has been implemented, the role of the committee might also be expanded. The University Assessment Committee will play a leadership role in accomplishing the goals for 2000-2001.

During the past decade, the University of Northern Iowa has made great progress in implementing assessment processes. Both NCA and Board of Regents mandates have stimulated this progress. Student outcomes assessment practices at UNI are guided by the "Student Outcomes Assessment Policy," which defines the policies and procedures for the implementation and administration of student outcomes assessment activities and also provides specific guidelines and examples to assist departmental SOA committees. We conduct assessments at various stages in the assessment process and use multiple measures of assessment. We are moving the institution forward by building upon the strengths of our outcomes assessment efforts and recognizing and addressing challenges in assessment implementation. With both administrative and faculty support and a further development of a "culture of inquiry," outcomes assessment will continue to help us realize the rational, orderly evolution and improvement of our institution and its programs.

Indicator B1: Proficiency in skills and competencies essential for all college-educated adults
The University's General Education Program requires that students demonstrate skills and competencies essential for all college-educated adults. Since 1991 there has been a major investment in the human, financial and physical resources to support full implementation of General Education, including the Communication Essentials component. College-level writing, mathematics, and oral communication courses comprise this component of the General Education Program. All students are required to pass these courses, thereby demonstrating that they have these essential competencies.

In Spring 1996, a three-year project was launched on campus to "identify the qualities of an educated person that should characterize a UNI graduate and integrate these qualities into curricular and co-curricular activities." The Qualities of an Educated Person (QEP) project, organized and funded through the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching, was designed to stimulate the voluntary participation of faculty, staff, and students in ways that would not by-pass or supplant decision-making processes involving the University curriculum or institutional policies. The "products" of the project were to be made available to the University community for consideration by individuals, groups, and committees in improving curricular and co-curricular programs and services in support of undergraduate education.

This work was undertaken with the following overall aim in mind:

to create a learning community that enables students to develop the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to live thoughtful, creative, and productive lives.

The primary activities of the QEP project involved conversations among faculty, staff, and students from across the University, first, in generating, reviewing, and revising a set of qualities desired of students who graduate from the University and, then, in creating a vision of undergraduate education that would help students develop those qualities. Some of the major contributions of the QEP project between 1996 and 1999 were:

1.A statement, "Qualities for UNI Graduates" (October 1997), reviewed by approximately 1,200 faculty, staff, and students and twice revised based on reviewer feedback.

2.Two rounds of "calls for proposals" (Fall 1997 and Fall 1998) and funded projects aimed at innovations in assessing and developing the proposed qualities for UNI graduates.

3.A University-wide conference (Fall 1998) that brought together nearly 1,000 students, faculty, and staff to hear about the QEP project and 10 of the projects funded through it.

4.Continuing dialogue and development of courses and other student learning experiences across the undergraduate curriculum, especially in general education.

Indicator B2: Completion of an identifiable and coherent undergraduate-level general education component
The University Faculty approved the current General Education Program in 1988 for all undergraduate students attending the University of Northern Iowa. The program is a required component for the bachelor's degree, and the liberal arts education it provides continues to be the foundation of our undergraduate programs. The general education component is consistent across majors and degrees, and all students choose from options within the same prescribed program.

In the University Catalog of Programs and Courses for 2000-2002 (pp. 49-50), the requirements of General Education are summarized and then described for each of the six categories of courses. Students are expected to complete 47 semester hours of General Education, which includes courses in Civilizations and Cultures (11 hours), Fine Arts, Literature, Philosophy and Religion (6 hours), Natural Science and Technology (9 hours), Social Science (9 hours), Communication Essentials (9 hours), and Personal Wellness (3 hours).

To frame our general education courses within the larger purposes of an undergraduate education, the 1999 "Statement on Liberal Learning" adopted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) precedes the general education course descriptions in the new UNI Catalog. This statement reflects the philosophy and desired outcomes of UNI's Qualities of an Educated Person (QEP) project:

"A truly liberal education is one that prepares us to live responsible, productive, and creative lives in a dramatically changing world. It is an education that fosters a well-grounded intellectual resilience, a disposition toward lifelong learning, and an acceptance of responsibility for the ethical consequences of our ideas and actions. Liberal education requires that we understand the foundations of knowledge and inquiry about nature, culture and society; that we master core skills of perception, analysis, and expression; that we cultivate a respect for truth; that we recognize the importance of historical and cultural context; and that we explore connections among formal learning, citizenship, and service to our communities."

"We experience the benefits of liberal learning by pursuing intellectual work that is honest, challenging, and significant, and by preparing ourselves to use knowledge and power in responsible ways. Liberal learning is not confined to particular fields of study. What matters in liberal education is substantial content, rigorous methodology and an active engagement with the societal, ethical, and practical implications of our learning. The spirit and value of liberal learning are equally relevant to all forms of higher education and to all students."

"Because liberal learning aims to free us from the constraints of ignorance, sectarianism, and short-sightedness, it prizes curiosity and seeks to expand the boundaries of human knowledge. By its nature, therefore, liberal learning is global and pluralistic. It embraces the diversity of ideas and experiences that characterize the social, natural, and intellectual world. To acknowledge such diversity in all its forms is both an intellectual commitment and a social responsibility, for nothing less will equip us to understand our world and to pursue fruitful lives."

"The ability to think, to learn, and to express oneself both rigorously and creatively, the capacity to understand ideas and issues in context, the commitment to live in society, and the yearning for truth are fundamental features of our humanity. In centering education upon these qualities, liberal learning is society's best investment in our shared future."

The University accepts the Associate of Arts degree from an Iowa community college as meeting most of the requirements of our general education program. This follows a statewide agreement, first approved in 1981, among the Regent universities and all of the public community colleges in this state. This agreement, reviewed and reaffirmed annually by chief academic officers of the community colleges and the Regent universities, prescribes the liberal arts component within the Associate of Arts degree, including requirements for the specific number of credit hours to be earned in the categories of communications, humanities, math and science, social science, and distributed areas. Students are required to earn at least 40 semester hours of coursework defined as general education to be eligible for an Associate of Arts degree.

If a student transfers to UNI without an Associate of Arts degree, then we make a course-by-course evaluation of prior work and establish the remaining requirements needed to complete the UNI general education program. This procedure also is followed for students who transfer to UNI from any four-year college or university and from two-year colleges outside Iowa.

There is agreement among the three Regent universities that if a student has completed the general education program at one Regent university and transfers to another Regent university the student will be considered to have completed the general education program at the university to which the student has transferred. The registrar of the university originally attended must certify the completion of a general education program.

To assist students and their advisors to plan and track the successful completion of general education requirements in a timely fashion, the University implemented a comprehensive degree audit system in 1985. Each semester, every undergraduate is provided with a paper copy of his or her degree audit immediately prior to advanced registration for the next semester. The degree audit plots all courses completed into the appropriate categories of general education, major, minor, professional sequence and University electives. The audit also shows the courses in each category that remain to be completed.

A two-phase, web-based Program of Study is intended to improve advising and program planning, as well as scheduling and course availability. Each student's degree audit is now viewable on our degree audit web site. This audit is automatically updated whenever a change is made to the individual student's record. Students may submit an electronic request to have a hypothetical degree audit prepared that shows the requirements for adding or dropping a major or minor. These hypothetical requests are prepared each night and are viewable on the degree audit web site the next day.

Faculty advisors have access to their advisees' degree audits through the Program of Study. The advisor can also see the hypothetical degree audits that students have requested, so the advisor can know of potential changes in advising needs. These technological advancements in degree audit access are helping students and their advisors more efficiently identify categories of coursework and plan degree programs.

In Phase II, scheduled for Fall 2001, a pilot program will take the degree audit system to another level. Not only will it allow students to see what courses they need to graduate in their majors, it will give them the ability to plan to take those courses. Data entered by students will be stored and compiled for use by academic departments in planning course offerings. UNI Information Technology Systems is developing the software and related systems to ensure that the many different components of this comprehensive program will interact as designed when it becomes fully operational.

UNI students tend to be well informed about the General Education requirements, but they may not understand why these courses are required. As we enter a new century, we are committed to integrating a deeper appreciation of the General Education curriculum with the total university experience. Specifically, Objective 1.3 in our 2001-2006 Strategic Plan is:

to strengthen the UNI general education program and simultaneously increase understanding of and commitment to the role and value of a liberal arts education as the foundation of a university education.

Indicator B3: Mastery of the level of knowledge appropriate to the degree granted
Knowledge appropriate to the degree -- that is, the coherence and intellectual rigor of our degree programs -- is assured by curricular review processes, academic program reviews, accreditation/reaccreditation standards, advisory board assessments, and program rankings.

Mastery of knowledge by the student is documented through exams, papers, recitals, and projects at the course level. Further demonstration of mastery of knowledge appropriate to the degree granted comes in the form of juried performances and shows at the senior or program level, portfolios, practica, and student teaching experiences. Graduate students complete comprehensive examinations, theses or research papers, as well as course work to demonstrate mastery of knowledge for the degree. Further, in addition to establishing their level of mastery per the demand for their skills in the employment market, graduates must in some cases gain certification and licensure or pass entrance exams.

Data compiled through alumni surveys and other student outcomes assessments offer evidence that our graduates excel in educational, commercial, industrial, organizational, technological, and entrepreneurial environments. These formal and informal instruments demonstrate that students completing our programs indeed possess mastery of requisite knowledge sufficient to obtain desired positions in their field of choice or to pursue advanced study. Data supplied by the 1998 UNI Alumni Survey, for instance, indicate that about one-third of UNI graduates obtain an advanced degree.

A representative example of how programs are effectively assessed and adjusted is provided by the School of Music, which reviewed its degree programs in 1995 to determine whether its programs contained the appropriate material for students majoring in music at the end of the 20th century. A summary report provided by an outside team of visitors concluded that, while students were appropriately mastering the content of degree programs, some of the content needed adjustment to include more non-Western and non-traditional elements. Since then, changes have been incorporated into the curriculum that address those suggestions and elevate the program to a level of excellence consistent with strategic planning goals and objectives. Accreditation reviews, alumni surveys, and employer surveys are other mechanisms through which programs are monitored to ensure that students possess knowledge appropriate to the degree earned.

To summarize, the University strives to ensure that our students' experiences in a diverse, dynamic learning environment equip them with the knowledge, skills, and values they will need to live thoughtful, free, and productive lives. The commitment to build on and surpass established levels of excellence in scholarship and service is embedded throughout the Mission Statement and 2001-2006 Strategic Plan.

Indicator B4: Control by the institution's faculty of evaluation of student learning and granting of academic credit
The following statement appears in the UNI Policies and Procedures Manual, Section II, Professional Ethics and Academic Responsibility, "Responsibilities to Students," item 1:

Faculty members have the obligation to make clear the objectives of each course or program, to establish requirements, to set standards of achievement, and to evaluate student performance.

Faculty members at the University of Northern Iowa determine course descriptions, content, hours awarded, and requirements for degrees. They control the evaluation of student learning in their courses, they are responsible for end-of-semester grading that leads to academic credit, and they are responsible for supervision of field-based experiences and granting of grades and credit for these experiences.

Faculty at the University of Northern Iowa exercise academic freedom in course content, pedagogy, and student evaluations. Department heads, deans, or the Provost will not change grades or curriculum without the consent and approval of faculty.


Criteria I
Criteria II
Criteria III
Criteria IV
Criteria V
Summary &
UNI Home Page
Maintained by University Marketing and Public Relations 
Last Modified: 02/14/01