ACADEMIC PLANNING COUNCIL
Minutes of March 26, 2007
3 p.m., Holmes Student Center – HSC 505
Present: Alden, Cassidy, Dowen, Freedman, Hartenhoff, House, Olson, Prawitz, Russo, Seaver, Stravers, Waas, Williams
Guests: Donna Askins, Research Associate, Office of the Provost; Carolinda Douglass, Coordinator, Assessment Services;
The meeting was called to order at 3:05 p.m. An announcement was made that the council members are invited to an Ollie’s Ice Cream Social at Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center pond on June 21 to celebrate Dick Dowen’s retirement. It was moved and seconded to approve the minutes of November 6, 2006, and the motion passed unanimously.
The next item on the agenda is an update on enrollment patterns. There are currently 800 people on the undergraduate admissions waiting list, and this number is growing. Potential students have to confirm that they will be attending NIU by May 1. Our target is 3,000 freshmen and 2,000 transfer students. We would like to stay at about 25,000 students (18,000 undergraduates). Last year we were 200 students over our target, but we are still targeting things the same this year. There are roughly 400 off-campus students this year. An off-campus student is a person who takes more courses off-campus than on-campus, and this number is growing. We look pretty much like last year, which was our highest composite ACT score for entering students.
Approximately 30 percent of our freshmen admissions are from underrepresented groups, and this accounts for 25-26 percent of the entire student body. Females account for over 50 percent of our student body. Also, the number of transfer students has been adjusted a little over time. We now have a 60-40 percent mix. This helps us control entry into the upper-division courses. Students must now have a minimum 2.5 GPA to transfer into NIU. Transfer students do just as well as our native students, and we have a strong commitment to our community colleges.
Our admissions initiatives are branching out a little more south of I-80 than they have in the past. Last summer we hired an assistant vice provost for enrollment services who is working on developing prospect pools.
The largest enrollment growth has been in the Colleges of Health and Human Sciences and Liberal Arts and Sciences. NIU does not do programmatic admission. This has been discussed in the past, but only a small percentage of students stay in their original major. If students change majors, they would have to be admitted again. There are some programs that are more highly impacted than others, and this might be possible to do when we get into a waiting list situation. In the spring, we have always had rolling admissions; now we plan to hold the applications and process them all at the same time. Specific colleges’ priorities are being put together, and excess capacity will be taken into consideration.
Another issue related to all of this is our region’s high school demographics. The high schools in this region are projected to grow around 5 percent for the next 5 to 10 years. NIU will also be facing more and more competition in our service region.
Two years ago we put in an application fee, and we thought we would see a 25 percent drop in applications. We didn’t see a drop that large, and applications are up again this year. NIU does not charge a confirmation fee to hold an individual spot. This will change next year and be tied into housing and orientation. This is typical in the state, and it sometimes counts toward tuition. Also, the Student Information System will allow us to do more innovative things to address many different issues.
The follow-up reports being discussed today were requested from past program reviews during 2002-2003, 2003-2004, and 2005-2006. The reports should address the concerns raised by the APC.
The Department of Communication was asked to report on faculty scholarship over the review period. This information was omitted from the departmental section of the review. The department reported on faculty scholarship over the past three years.
Journalism omitted information on internal and external benchmarking, the implementation of an assessment plan including employer feedback, and the delineation of future plans. On page 2, of the report you can see that the program picked four indicators and set targets. They also picked four institutions and spelled out the criteria they would use for external benchmarks. The program also submitted an assessment plan to the University Assessment Panel (UAP), and the UAP said that the plan met all the criteria. On page 4, there is information about the kinds of things the program wants to concentrate on over the upcoming years. The student faculty ratio (40:1) seems discrepant. This is a highly impacted program, and these numbers are probably real. The alumni survey response rate is low. The Office of Assessment Services (OAS) sends a survey to all of the one-year-out graduates. We will check on the graduation rates.
The B.A./B.S. in Communication Studies program submitted a report on the processes for the timely declaration of the major, the implementation of an assessment plan incorporating employer feedback and the means for assessing capstone projects, internal and external benchmarking, and the delineation of future plans. The assessment plan was submitted to the UAP and it was viewed as meeting all criteria. The report includes information on internal and external benchmarking and gives a brief report on the future plans. Also included in the report is information on the exit declaration. This is a limited admissions program, and the exit declaration is awarded to students who are not admitted as a major, but complete the degree in communication studies. The program is now convening an ad hoc committee to look at this issue. This situation raises liability issues, and it is unfair to students. The program says that you have to be admitted to the program to be a major, but not all graduates are admitted into the program. Suggestions for ways to handle this issue were given to the program, including a gatekeeper course. After students complete two or three courses, the program could conduct a review on an admission decision. This also affects the student/faculty ratio. If you subtract 455, then the student faculty ratio is 14:1. The student/faculty ratio is a concern for all of our highly impacted programs. It is obvious that the program is talking to students and allowing them to progress through the program by taking courses that are courses for the major. Students can declare the major as late as the end of their final semester. The program obviously has the resources to admit these students. The department feels that this helps the students whose GPA floats from a 2.0 to a 2.5. A 2.5 GPA is required, and they are helping students who do not meet this requirement move toward graduation. The program says that it accommodates all of the majors; and if there are extra seats, it will accommodate the pre-majors. This has to influence time to degree. The Office of the Provost does receive complaints regarding the timeliness to get into classes. Pre-communication students are not guaranteed admittance into the classes, and faculty are faced with a student in good standing who can’t graduate. The B.G.S. and contract degrees at NIU were set up to accommodate non-traditional students, and this should probably be looked at. There are also irregularities in enrollments and some concern about the credit hour production. The program wants to help students, and it wants the numbers to look good; and these are competing reasons. In some programs if you are not admitted into the program, you are not allowed to take classes; and in some programs you can take classes without being admitted, but there is a gateway course. The Office of the Provost has had several conversations with the department regarding this issue (one prior to program review, one during program review, and one during the APC meeting). There are also financial aid issues for students if they are not enrolled full time. What is the implication of the public perception of this major? Wouldn’t this need to be in the catalog? This does raise many issues. It sounds like here are the official rules, and here are the unwritten rules. This is damaging to the program and the students who have been officially admitted into the program. The concern is about protecting the students. All the other issues were addressed in the report. The program will be asked to report on this issue in the fall.
The M.A. in Communication Studies program was asked to provide a report on internal and external benchmarking activities and delineation of future plans. The program has addressed these matters.
A motion was made to accept these reports with a caveat that we ask for a report on the exit declaration process next fall. The motion passes unanimously.
The next follow-up report is on the B.S.Ed. in Health Education. There were no particular concerns about this program; but after undergoing program review, the program was transferred from the College of Education to the College of Health and Human Sciences. We wanted to see what was going on in the program after this transfer took place. The program was asked to provide information on the status of the program, including data on course duplication, enrollments, program major costs, and outcomes. Enrollments and degrees awarded have both increased, it is a cost effective program, and the credit hour production has increased with the increase in enrollment. The transfer does not seem to have had any adverse effects. A motion was made to accept the report, and the motion passed unanimously.
All three of the educational administration programs were asked to report on the systematic implementation of an assessment program including portfolio reviews, employer feedback and the creation of an advisory committee, and learning outcomes; and provide information from alumni surveys and comparisons to other programs. The Ed.S. and the Ed.D. programs were also asked to provide information on how the curriculum is designed to achieve the learning outcomes. The final requirement for the Ed.D. program was to report on the strategies to ensure timely completion of dissertation research. All three reports are identical, and there is no information about the implementation of their assessment plans, learning outcomes, and comparisons to other programs. Both the Ed.S. and the Ed.D. reports do not include information about how the curriculum is designed to achieve the learning outcomes. Additional follow-up reports for all three programs will be due this fall. The motion passed unanimously.
The master’s program in educational psychology was asked to provide information on the rubrics developed to assess theses and projects and methods for obtaining employer feedback. The program submitted their rubrics and are doing a survey to obtain employer feedback. There are alternative ways of obtaining employer feedback (advisory committees, receiving tenure, etc.). What we are really looking for is external validation of students’ skills. If the program wants to do employer surveys, that is fine, but they might be able to get better feedback using different methods. For the Ed.D. program we requested a report on the systematic use of the rubrics developed to assess dissertations and portfolios, methods for obtaining employer feedback, and strategies implemented to ensure the timely completion of dissertation research. There is now a three hour minimum requirement per semester for dissertation hours. A motion was made to receive the reports, and it passed unanimously.
The M.S.Ed. in Foundations of Education program was asked to report on the systematic implementation of an assessment program including employer feedback. Basically what the program told us is that they don’t need to seek employer feedback. This is a state requirement, and we will send the program some other information about obtaining employer feedback. The report doesn’t say that it has implemented its assessment plan. It would appear that the program is attempting to map these items to their outcomes, but it is not clear. The program was asked to include data in the report. A motion was made to request a follow-up report in the fall. The motion passed unanimously.
For the M.S.Ed. in School Business Management program a request was made to provide information on the systematic implementation of an assessment program including employer feedback, data from alumni surveys, and comparisons to other programs. There was a motion made that the program submit a follow-up report this fall. The motion passed unanimously.
A follow-up report on modifying the learning objectives so they reflect student learning and are in line with the department’s new mission was requested for the M.S. in Management Information Systems program. The learning objectives have been restated in terms of what students will be able to do at the end of the program. The assessment plan was modified to reflect those outcomes, a timeline has been provided, and a table outlining the tasks was included in the report. A motion was made to receive the report, and it passed unanimously.
The review of APC responsibilities is the next agenda item. The council members will receive a survey that asks you to address the extent to which the council fulfills its duties. This information will be shared with the council in the fall. Past feedback resulted in changes in the statement of the council’s responsibilities.
Every spring we ask the council to make recommendations on the guidelines for the program and center reviews. There are typically some suggestions for changes, and we are certainly open to any suggestions you have. The review process would be much easier if the pages were continuously numbered. If anyone thinks of anything else, please send your suggestions to Virginia Cassidy or Carolyn Cradduck.
The IBHE institutional program reviews report arose from a question from an IBHE board member about how the program review process was carried out. The report identifies the information requested by the IBHE about the results of program review by the campuses. There is a table outlining the results of institutional program and research unit reviews. The board was disturbed about programs not being eliminated, and there was some discussion about this. The IBHE staff tried to clarify the fact that most programs are high-quality programs, and the review process primarily pointed out issues that could be addressed and worked on. Gary Alexander, the Deputy Director of Academic Affairs at the IBHE, plans to have discussions with academic officers to talk about what kinds of information could be provided to the board to help them understand the program review process.
The APC members were updated on the Strategic Planning Task Force initiative. Currently the task force is meeting in four work groups of about a dozen people, and the task force chairs are also meeting every two weeks with the facilitator for a debriefing. The first topic is the educational component, including looking at engaged learning and characteristics of NIU being a research university that values undergraduate education and engagement with students outside the classroom. The second area is research clusters that NIU will be known for in the future, and what characteristics we will look for in identifying these clusters. The third topic is public purpose. This includes outreach and engagement, and how do we become or enhance our role as a major resource in our region. The fourth topic is how do we identify issues within the university community and enhance the culture and well-being of the university. We are looking at the strategic issues that will help advance those areas and identify the focus so future college plans can be aligned with those of the division. The next meeting of the task force will be April 23, and we will try to finalize what will be presented to the roundtable, which will be the final vetting of what has developed with all the work groups. After this, the writing will begin. We hope that the final report will be written by mid-May, and this report will be circulated to the campus. The four chairs have done a good job at leading the meetings and making it a coordinated process.
As a result of the last site visit from the Higher Learning Commission, NIU was required to submit a report on assessment. A report has been drafted, and it will be discussed with the UAP, the General Education Committee, the Council of Deans, and the Graduate Council. The report will be brought to this group for endorsement. The Provost and President will review the report before it is submitted to the Higher Learning Commission.
The meeting adjourned at 4:45 p.m.
Carolyn A. Cradduck