Institutional Profile

The Duluth campus of the University of Minnesota is located in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota, in the city of Duluth, at the tip of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world. The city of Duluth, with the adjacent city of Superior, Wisconsin, have a combined population of approximately 115,000 people. The area is known for its natural beauty, its natural resources and recreational facilities, and as an inland international shipping seaport. The city is located 150 miles north of the Minneapolis-St Paul metropolitan area.
The University of Minnesota was established in 1851 by an act of the Minnesota territorial legislature, and as such, is governed by an autonomous Board of Regents that enacts laws governing the institution, controls expenditures, and acts upon all staff changes. The board is composed of 12 individuals appointed by the state legislature. The University has campuses in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Morris, Crookston, and Duluth, Minnesota. The Duluth campus originated as a Normal School, and in 1947, the campus became a part of the University of Minnesota. In 1995, the campus will be celebrating 100 years of education and outreach.
The campus is administered by a chancellor who reports to the president of the University. The Duluth campus is administered in three Vice Chancellor units (Finance and Operations, Academic Administration, and Academic Support and Student Life). Academic programs are administered by the Vice Chancellor for Academic Administration through five colleges: the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Education and Health Service Professions, the College of Science and Engineering, the School of Business and Economics, and the School of Fine Arts.
The Duluth campus is the place for study for approximately 7000 undergraduate and graduate students from Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, and several foreign countries. All students accepted at UMD are expected to meet a specified set of "preparation requirements" consisting of four years of english, three years of mathematics, three years of science, two years of a second language, and two years of social studies. On a case-by-case basis, students can be admitted without fully meeting all of these requirements, however, in 1994, 85% of the new entering students fully met these requirements. Several UMD colleges or programs have additional standards for admission and/or competitive admission to upper division coursework.
There are 14 graduate programs on the Duluth campus which are administered by the University of Minnesota Graduate School, and there are 11 graduate programs at UMD which are cooperatively offered by UMD and the Twin Cities campus (TC, Minneapolis/St. Paul). In addition, two masters degree programs at UMD are offered by colleges on the UMD campus. Approximately 400 graduate students study on the UMD campus.
UMD is a high-quality, medium-sized, comprehensive university. A liberal arts foundation anchors a variety of traditional degree programs, outreach offerings, and selected professional and graduate programs. UMD addresses the cultural needs of the region and serves as a central resource point for the economic development of the region through community outreach activities.

Executive Summary

The University of Minnesota, Duluth submits this summary report of present and planned actions which assess student academic achievement. Assessment of student academic achievement is recognized as necessary for continued public support as well meeting the requirements for continued accreditation. This document is organized around the NCA Criteria for Assessment Plan Reviews.

Criterion 1.The Plan is Linked to the Mission, Goals, and Objectives of the Institution for Student Learning and Academic Achievement, Including Learning in General Education and in the Major.

The stated mission of the University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD) was revised in 1992, and since that time, the institution has applied this mission statement to collegiate and departmental plans under the heading of "Vision 2000". "Vision 2000" plans were developed at the departmental level and were refined and/or consolidated at the collegiate and campus level. Vision 2000 planning now forms the basis of assessment of student academic achievement.
Assessment plans are based on defined expectations of our students and graduates. Many UMD undergraduate programs are accredited by discipline, and graduate programs at UMD are regularly scheduled for external reviews of program quality. All of these evaluations are based on meeting our stated objectives. Specific plans have been proposed by the campus Educational Policy Committee for assessing student proficiency in General Education requirements.

Criterion 2.Faculty Have Participated in the Development of the Institution's Plan and the Plan is Institution-wide in Conceptualization and Scope.

This assessment plan has been developed at the department and program level, and plans vary from one program to another according to what might be most appropriate in each area. The campus is presently reviewing the various assessment activities and proposals for ways to make processes more efficient and useful.

Criterion 3.The Plan will Lead to Institutional Improvement When it is Implemented.

The plan will be implemented and used for institutional improvement. UMD has been participating in a variety of quality improvement activities over the past several years and has been active in reviewing and accrediting its academic programs. The campus recognizes the need to verify and validate its accomplishments with regard to its stated mission if it is to remain competitive and viable in a very competitive educational environment. UMD is competing for resources and support in a public arena that includes a very well developed system of public and private colleges, as well as a strong and expansive central campus of the University of Minnesota. The University of Minnesota is establishing "Critical Measures" of performance and is moving toward "resource responsibility center" funding. Assessment will lead to improvement.

Criterion 4. The Plan has a Realistic Timetable.

This plan reflects the willingness to work with faculty and to have "ground level" support for assessment efforts. Time has been dedicated to identifying the purpose and rational of assessment activities. Faculty have participated in discussions about, and are moving forward with, assessment programs in their areas. Time will now be dedicated to refinement of assessment practices and to appropriate coordination of activities for maximum efficiency and cost effectiveness. The timetable proposed for future steps in the planning process is realistic.

Criterion 5. The Plan is Administered Appropriately.

Assessment of student academic achievement will be administered at the lowest appropriate level. Deans have assumed responsibility for working with departments and programs, and the Vice Chancellor for Academic Administration is coordinating campus wide assessment efforts. The Educational Policy Committee of the Campus Assembly has been involved in reviewing and submitting plans for the assessment of Liberal Education Requirements. There was communication through campus governance and administrative channels from the beginning of the planning process.

Campus-Wide Assessment


The University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD) reviewed and revised its mission statement in May 1992. The revised mission statement was initiated through campus governance and has been approved administratively through the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota. The UMD mission statement is as follows:

"The University of Minnesota, Duluth is a comprehensive university dedicated to the belief that human progress is made possible through the advancements and dissemination of knowledge and technology, the creation and appreciation of artistic performance, and the development of an awareness, understanding and acceptance of the diversity of cultures, values, and aspirations of the members of our own community and the peoples of the world. Advances in knowledge and learning can take place only within an environment which values high quality teaching and scholarship and which fosters an atmosphere of openness and respect among all those who have come to UMD to teach, learn and work."--1992

UMD Assessment Plan

Assessment of student achievement will be done by various means across the campus, according to what is most appropriate in a given situation. A matrix showing the present/anticipated method of assessment and the units using these methods is included in this section of the report. Definitions of the various types of assessment are given in Appendix A.

The following is our response to the evaluation questions posed for review of our plan for assessment of student academic achievement. The evaluation questions have been paraphrased for simplicity.

1.Are the Student Learning Assessment Measures Linked to the Mission, Goals, and Objectives of the Institution?

During the 1991-92 academic year a special task force of the Campus Assembly of the UMD campus proposed a revision of the UMD mission statement. This revised mission statement was forwarded to, and approved by, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. Subsequent to approval of the new mission statement, the campus began a "Vision 2000" planning process which originated with department faculty and proceeded through college and vice chancellor development. The campus mission statement, and the subsequent development of "Vision 2000" plans for all departments, colleges, and the campus, have helped define expected educational outcomes and appropriate program and graduate expectations. Since approval of the campus mission, there has been further discussion and acceptance of "strategic initiatives" for the campus. Finally, with the establishment of "Critical Measures" of performance (Appendix B) and with the possible movement of the University of Minnesota to "resource responsibility centers", there is further incentive to match assessment with mission and to effectively implement an assessment program.
In developing a campus plan for assessing student academic achievement, it has been emphasized with all faculty that assessment activities should evaluate performance against the stated mission of the campus and the department/program expectations of graduates. The table of assessment methods presented previously reflects the recommendations of the programmatic and departmental faculty. The Educational Policy Committee of the Campus Assembly has proposed a plan for assessing student achievement of liberal education requirements (Appendix C); this proposal will be taken to the Campus Assembly for approval during fall quarter 1995 for implementation as soon as possible after that time.

2. Have Faculty Participated in the Development of the Institution's Plan and is the Plan Institution-wide in Conceptualization and Scope?

In 1989, Dr. Valerie Broughton, Director of Institutional Research, chaired a study group report on student assessment. This study group was composed of faculty, staff, and administrators from across the campus. The group identified assessment activities which were taking place and made suggestions for activities which should be undertaken.
Programmatic assessment plans in support of NCA accreditation are/have been developed at the department level according to guidelines sent out from the Vice Chancellor for Academic Administration office (Appendix D). Meetings were held with faculty, as requested, to discuss the objectives of the assessment requirement as well as to suggest/discuss the pros and cons of various assessment options. It was recommended that compliance with the NCA accreditation requirements for assessment of student academic achievement should build on present assessment procedures that are used for various undergraduate and graduate program accreditations.
While program accreditation often will not demonstrate student academic achievement, accreditation often requires programs to demonstrate student academic/professional success. We will now have campus discussions of processes and procedures in order to consolidate common activities, implement new processes where none exist, and improve existing assessment programs.

3.How Does the Plan Demonstrate a Likelihood that the Assessment Program will Lead to Institutional Improvement?

There are several things about this plan and the present college environment which promote the likelihood of institutional improvement as a result of this assessment plan. Many significant internal and external environmental changes have occurred since this accreditation requirement was established.
First of all, program quality is extremely important to program accreditation, program reputation, and student recruitment. Faculty have a vested interest in demonstrating their effectiveness with regard to their stated objectives and graduate success. Demonstrating that success to public constituencies and Central Administration will be very important as budget decisions are made.
Secondly, campus and program accreditation is very important for credibility with students and potential employers of our graduates. Many of our programs are accredited and wish to remain that way.
Third, Central Administration of the University of Minnesota is moving toward "responsibility center management". This will force a level of accountability that has not existed before. In addition, "Critical Measures" of performance are being generated within the University of Minnesota that will add to the verification process (Appendix B). If we are to be accountable, it is best that we know the terms and have the data.
Fourth, faculty have already demonstrated interest and support for assessment of academic achievement by their participation and involvement in the process thus far. The campus administration supported, and participated in, several quality improvement initiatives during recent years and applied for the Malcolm Baldridge award in 1994. Discussions must continue with regard to what data will be collected, how it will be used, and how it will be shared internally and externally to the campus.
Attention has been paid to the manner in which the issue of assessment has been addressed with faculty, and plans have been promoted that are clearly beneficial to the program/institution. Meeting the NCA requirement for assessment is only part of a program of change in higher education and within the University of Minnesota.
Budget constraints, reallocation of funds, and the need to prioritize the dispersement of funds is forcing UMD, and all of higher education, to carefully determine program and institutional strengths and weaknesses. Such an environment is strong incentive for all programs to know what they are doing and how well they are doing it. The great challenge in assessment is to define a process which fairly and impartially provides data, which allows an evaluation of achievement and, if possible, can identify situations where improvement is necessary or desirable.
While some assessment processes are quick to identify inadequacies, they do not necessarily provide assistance in affecting necessary change. The assessment activities that are implemented at UMD
will hopefully identify factors that positively and negatively affect student achievement.

4.Is the Time Line for the Assessment Program Appropriate and Realistic?

Action steps and projected time lines for full implementation of the Student Academic Achievement Assessment Plan are given below. It is important to recognize that some units are already actively involved in assessment of student performance. Preparing this NCA response has forced a review of current practices and has stimulated new activity. It is now very important that the plan be refined for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

Action Steps To Be Completed:

1. Analyze/refine program assessment plans.
Fall Quarter 1995

2. Identify plan for assessing student involvement in learning.
Fall Quarter 1995

3. Complete the campus list of assessment tools/processes
December 31, 1995

4. Identify funding for recommended assessment tools
Winter Quarter 1996

5. Develop policies for use of assessment data
Winter Quarter 1996

6. Define the plan for program assessment/improvement
Spring Quarter 1996

7. Schedule full implementation of assessment activities
Spring Quarter 1996

8.Analyze the usefulness of the data and make process changes
Fall Quarter 1996

Faculty have been receptive to the idea of assessment of student achievement. Administrative action to this point has focused on inventorying current activity. The focus on future activity will be on refinement of a campus plan which is coherent in the assessment activities, as simple as possible to administer, as cost effective as possible, and as reliable as possible. Since assessment activities have already begun, the above time line is appropriate and realistic.

5.Does the plan provide appropriate administration of the assessment program?

As mentioned previously, there are several internal and external reasons for us to pay appropriate attention to this process, including an on-site visitation for renewal of our campus NCA Accreditation in 1997. The Vice Chancellor for Academic Administration, the college Deans, and the VCAA support staff will follow through to be sure that an assessment plan is established and effectively implemented.
Appendix A

Definition of Terms

Exhibitions/Sr. Projects: Exhibitions, recitals, or senior projects which demonstrate fundamental understanding and comprehensive application of requisite course work.

Capstone Course: Required coursework taken during the senior year which demonstrates understanding, integration, and application of previous course content. Successful completion is judged according to expected outcomes.

Portfolio: A file of student materials which demonstrate proficiencies in the expected program outcomes.

Internships/Research: Work or research activities occurring late in a student's program of study which demonstrate expected academic proficiencies.

Grad Placement: Review and analysis of the professional placement of graduates against program expectations as a measure of appropriateness of curriculum and instructional quality (business or graduate school). This includes analysis of the number of graduates employed in jobs related to their field of study and those pursuing advanced study.

Employer Survey: Regular, systematic survey of employers of graduates of UMD programs with assessment of how well students were prepared for the employment positions they filled.

Normed (Nat'l) Exam: Standardized tests which have national norms and/or proficiency expectations. Program success judged against program expectations (# of graduates taking the exam and/or the rate/level of success on the exam).

Cert./Licensure Exam: Certification or licensure exams required for employment or professional application of a graduate's training. Student academic achievement measured by success rate on the exam(s).

Comp (Internal) Exam: Comprehensive exam generated for internal, local use which measures student achievement against specific standards of performance.

Student Exit Survey: Self assessment of learning and satisfaction with program content and delivery by students as they graduate from the institution.

Alumni Survey: Regular, systematic survey of alumni to assess their satisfaction with their education and solicit recommendations for program improvement.

External Review: Program review and evaluation by external authorities. Accreditation review activities not counted unless they include specific assessment of student academic achievement.