CRITERION THREE: STUDENT LEARNING AND EFFECTIVE TEACHING
The organization provides evidence of student learning and teaching effectiveness that demonstrates it is fulfilling its educational mission.
UMD is committed to providing a high quality educational experience for every student as an essential part of its mission to achieve excellence in public higher education. This dedication and commitment are addressed in the first and second sentences of the UMD mission. The end of the first sentence of the mission statement indicates UMD is “dedicated to excellence in all of its programs and operations,” and the end of the second sentence notes that the faculty recognize the importance of “a primary commitment to quality instruction.” In support of the mission, UMD offers a full range of educational opportunities for all students. High quality teaching along with the range of broader programs and services provides an atmosphere that supports excellence in learning. Success in these tasks has made UMD the most publicly visible institution of higher learning in northern Minnesota.
The breadth and extent of UMD’s offerings mean that many opportunities exist for our students on a variety of fronts. UMD has policies and programs which demonstrate its commitment to individual student success by providing support both inside and outside the classroom. Across the broad cross-section of students who attend the university, UMD aims to offer each student the academic and educational programs and support systems needed to succeed in meeting her or his individual goals. The chapter sections that follow provide information and evidence of how UMD fulfills its commitment to help undergraduate and graduate students thrive in a complex world through effective teaching and successful student support programs. UMD emphasizes a clear and challenging instructional system which is evaluated using a variety of methods designed to result in continuous quality improvement.
The organization’s goals for student learning outcomes are clearly stated for each educational program and make effective assessment possible.
UMD’s emphasis on excellence in teaching has focused attention on creating a learning climate that supports every student in intellectual development, lifelong learning, academic success, and career preparation. UMD serves a broad range of students across many different fields of study through five collegiate units identified previously in the report, the College of Education and Human Service Professions (CEHSP), College of Liberal Arts (CLA), Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE), Swenson College of Science and Engineering (SCSE), and School of Fine Arts (SFA). All of these colleges offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
A complete listing of UMD degree programs including majors and minors is available at the UMD web site, and a listing of the degree titles is also provided as part of the UMD Campus Data Book. Each of the programs has an assessment plan uniquely suited to its mission and learning objectives for its students. Each program clearly distinguishes the requirements and expectation for students at the different levels from freshman through graduate school. More information is provided later in this section. Learning objectives for all courses are described in the syllabus for each course and the course description. Liberal education objectives are described in the broad liberal education requirements and the syllabi for courses satisfying the requirements. Effective teaching is supported, assessed, and improved continually based on UMD policies, college assessment plans, and individual course requirements and assessment.
UMD is currently in the process of developing a set of campus-wide learning outcomes. This issue was brought before the Education Policy Committee (EPC) of the UMD Campus Assembly in spring 2007 in response to the learner outcomes put forth by the Twin Cities campus. EPC decided that rather than simply adopting the Twin Cities campus outcomes it would be more beneficial to UMD students and the campus to develop and adopt learner outcomes specifically intended for UMD. An ad hoc committee was appointed with the charge to draft the UMD learner outcomes. The ad hoc committee reviewed learning outcomes from colleges and universities across the country. Their goal was to develop learning outcomes that would serve as broad goals for the type of graduates that UMD is trying to create and that faculty would use as a guide when planning curriculum. Although drafted independently, the learning outcomes that have been drafted to date are well aligned with the proposed draft mission statement of the liberal education task force, which is discussed later in the next section. The preliminary set of outcomes is presented in the box that follows.
Discussion on this topic is still ongoing, but preliminary suggestions include adding outcomes that deal with research as well as teamwork and collaboration. It was also noted that for many programs such as business, engineering and education, outcomes are driven by accreditation standards. The ad hoc committee was asked to work with these groups to ensure that campus-wide learning outcomes meet the needs of specific programs as well as the campus overall. Plans for assessment of these outcomes have not yet been addressed. The ad hoc committee is continuing its work, and discussion of this topic will continue in the EPC.
As stated in the UMD mission, “At UMD, a firm liberal arts foundation anchors a variety of traditional degree programs . . . ” Therefore, one of the cornerstones of the UMD undergraduate experience is the exposure to a liberal education. The Liberal Education Program (LEP) requires students to take courses offering a wide variety of learning opportunities designed to develop and foster knowledge, skills, and dispositions essential for independent learning and thinking. In addition to providing breadth of knowledge, this program
While depth is achieved through requirements for majors and minors, breadth is achieved by exposure to disciplined inquiry in the LEP’s ten categories of knowledge. Objectives for each of the ten categories are indicated in the brief statement at the beginning of each category in the following list.
Category 1—Composition. Courses in this category should develop skills in composition and written communication.
Category 2—Math, Logic, and Critical Thinking. Courses in this category should develop the ability to use and analyze formal symbolic systems. Emphasis should be on the theory and/or development of skills in specific symbolic systems, logic, linguistics and linguistic analysis, mathematics, statistics, and critical thinking.
Category 3—Communication, Computer Science, and Foreign Languages. Courses in this category should develop the ability to use and analyze human and computer languages. Emphasis should be on the theory and/or development of skills in the methods of human and computer languages, and rhetoric.
Category 4—Physical and Biological Sciences With Lab. Courses in this category should focus on the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theory of natural phenomena.
Category 5—Physical and Biological Sciences Without Lab. Courses in this category should focus on the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theory of natural phenomena.
Category 6—The Social Sciences. Courses in this category should deal with the empirical/descriptive study of individual behavior and social institutions affecting individuals as members of society, including psychological, social, cultural, economic, and political phenomena.
Category 7—Historical and Philosophical Foundations. Courses in this category should focus on the study of societies and/or cultures and the analysis of basic philosophical issues and traditions.
Category 8—Contemporary Social Issues and Analysis. Courses in this category should analyze contemporary issues and their relationship to individuals and/or social institutions in economic, political, educational, or religious systems.
Category 9—Literary and Artistic Expression: Analysis and Criticism. Courses in this category should familiarize students with the basic aims, elements, and principles of interpretation and criticism of literature, folklore, myth, the visual arts, dance, film, music, and theatre. Emphasis should be on principles and techniques of analysis, interpretation, and criticism.
Category 10—Literary and Artistic Expression: Performance. Courses in this category should provide opportunities for creative expression through participation, production, or performance of literary or artistic expression and should pay significant attention to larger theoretical issues.
At the time of the previous HLC visit in 1997, the assessment plan for liberal education was not fully developed or implemented. However, a broader evaluation of Liberal Education requirements was initiated in 1997 prior to the conversion from quarters to semesters in 1999. The Campus Assembly EPC began working on a liberal education assessment plan in 1996 and tasked the Liberal Education Subcommittee to complete a plan and implement it. In the fall of 2001, members of the UMD Liberal Education Subcommittee began a careful and systematic review of each course within the liberal education program to ensure the courses are in compliance with the goals and objectives of their respective categories. Courses are slated for review on a rotating basis, each course coming up for review once every five years. Once all of the courses are reviewed, the process begins over. By the end of 2008 the Liberal Education Subcommittee will have completed two complete cycles of assessment of the liberal education courses.
In addition to a systematic review of every liberal education course, the Liberal Education Subcommittee undertook a thorough assessment of UMD's LEP at large. This assessment included a variety of measures, including student surveys, focus groups, alumni and faculty surveys.
As a result of the analysis of data collected through the EPC Liberal Education Subcommittee, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Administration (VCAA) appointed a Liberal Education Task Force to study needed and possible changes in the LEP. The Liberal Education Task Force was constituted in late fall 2006 with faculty members representing each collegiate unit and with professional staff, administration, and student members. The task force was given the following charge: to review the recommendations drafted by the Liberal Education Policy Subcommittee of EPC; to conduct an in-depth review of the information gathered by that subcommittee and any other data the task force wished to collect, and, finally to “propose a future direction and mission for the liberal education program at UMD.”
The group has been meeting regularly for the past year doing extensive reading and research on liberal education programs at other colleges and universities and meeting with groups across campus to discuss liberal education. Two campus-wide public forums were held at UMD in the Fall 2007 to foster discussion of this important topic. In addition, a blog has been developed with links to readings, survey data, and more detailed information about the committee’s work. Feedback from faculty, staff, and students is welcomed and highly encouraged. In addition, the task force conducted an extensive alumni survey regarding perceptions of UMD liberal education. The results of the alumni survey are available online at the Liberal Education Task Force Blog.
The committee felt it was important to first attempt to reach some consensus on the meaning and purpose of liberal education before considering changes to the current UMD program. Therefore, they prepared a draft of a new Liberal Education Mission Statement which follows:
The Liberal Education Task Force prepared the following summary of findings related to the LEP at UMD from information gathered from the alumni survey, campus forums, the Liberal Education Task Force blog, liberal education research literature, and previous Liberal Education Subcommittee findings.
Based on the above findings, the group is in the initial stages of preparing a report and some preliminary recommendations during fall 2007. As it begins to prepare the final report, the Liberal Education Task Force stated it believes the two of the most important actions UMD could take at this time to improve the LEP are:
The task force is continuing to work throughout fall semester 2007 with the expectation it will be prepared to put forward a set of recommendations in the spring of 2008 to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Administration related to changing the UMD Liberal Education program.
All classroom courses at UMD are accompanied by a syllabus that is provided to students at the start of the semester. These documents provide a fundamental foundation upon which learning outcomes are conveyed to students. To ensure that the syllabus for each course provides adequate information for students, UMD has implemented a “Uniform Syllabus Policy” established by the EPC in 1999. The policy has been modified over the years as the process, problems, and technology of education have changed. The syllabus policy insures that all students receive basic information about and expectations for success in courses. Departments and colleges strongly encourage all faculty to follow the syllabus policy guidelines.
Currently, this policy recommends that the following components be part of all syllabi:
Additionally all syllabi for courses approved for liberal education credit must identify the category that the course fulfills as well as the specific liberal education goals that are met by the course.
A variety of assessment methods and activities are used regularly at UMD to continuously improve academic programs, teaching, and support services. In its effort to support and align its quality improvement processes and activities with those of the University system overall, UMD has created a quality improvement environment that involves assessment and accountability. Under the guidance of the VCAA all levels of academic units at UMD complete assessment of their curriculum. The data collected through the various assessment programs and activities are used to revise and improve academic programs and services for students, faculty, and other constituents.
Assessing student learning outcomes is part of the assessment plans for departments and colleges at UMD. Each department has a different assessment plan based on the general set of assessment goals derived from the mission statements of the various departments and support units. An Assessment Matrix has been developed that identifies the most common assessment methods used by UMD departments and which of the methods is used by each department. The list of assessment methods across the top of the matrix identifies the range of assessment methods used by the academic units. Because the missions of the colleges and departments varies, it is appropriate that each has its own set of assessment strategies. More information related to some of the specific departmental assessment plans are presented later in this chapter.
The movement toward a culture of assessment and accountability over the past decade has involved a major shift for many members of the campus community. The most common example is the paradigm shift that some faculty moved from “what I want to teach” to “what do I want my students to know and be able to do.” This shift involves faculty working together to determine course outcomes based on program outcomes that are often driven by professional standards and accreditation expectations. This cycle of assessment at the course level mirrors the work at the institutional level and is accomplished through a strong commitment at all levels as well as ongoing professional development related to assessment and accountability.
The process and schedule for program reviews is managed and directed by staff in the VCAA office. Most of the professional degree programs or departments such as those in business, education, and engineering have achieved programmatic accreditation by professional accrediting bodies such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB), the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). A list of all of programmatic accreditations by regional or national agences at UMD was included in Figure 2.3 in Chapter 2. All licensure programs such as those in teaching are also accredited by appropriate agencies such as the Minnesota Board of Teaching. Departments have a vested interest in demonstrating their effectiveness via the accreditation process. Accreditation status is extremely important for credibility with constituents and potential employers of our graduates as well as being an important component of assessment as well as student recruitment. These accreditations are strong indicators of the culture of assessment and program improvement at UMD.
An Undergraduate Program Review Policy describing the program review process at UMD has been developed and last updated in 2006 and revised in 2007. A tentative timeline for undergraduate program review has been developed. When feasible and appropriate, review of the undergraduate and graduate program(s) of a department or college at UMD will be done simultaneously. Reviews of UMD graduate programs whose degrees are granted by the University Graduate School are governed by the protocol for program reviews under the aegis of the Graduate School. The Graduate School protocol describes components of the graduate program review process such as the purpose, documents and steps in the process, preparation of the self-study report, selection and role of the external evaluation team, and program response to the external report. Also, a programmatic accreditation visit and review may constitute all or part of the UMD program review.
Cognizant of the concern related to assessment included in the final report of the 1997 NCA accreditation visit team, UMD academic departments have reviewed and updated their assessment of student learning. Each program unit has developed its own assessment plan and the means to carry it out. Faculty are involved in all phases of designing and administering the assessment programs at UMD. Assessment plans for undergraduate programs include the following: program goals and objectives, relation of these goals to their mission, a summary of assessment tools, a summary of data collected, conclusions of the data analysis and the actions taken as a result of the assessment. All the colleges are now using their assessment processes to evaluate, revise, and improve academic programs. For example the Department of Writing Studies (formerly Composition) has an extensive assessment program. All of the colleges now have a “culture of assessment” and work to continually improve teaching and learning. Colleges and departments have more detailed assessment plans.
Teaching evaluation at UMD is governed by the terms and conditions negotiated by the University Education Association (UEA) and the University through the collective bargaining process. The current teaching evaluation policy is described in Section 202.000 of the UEA contract. All faculty members have student evaluations done in each course they are teaching using approved instruments. During the first month of each academic year faculty members identify which 50% of their course evaluations will be submitted for purposes of personnel evaluation such as merit salary increases, tenure, and promotion. All of the course evaluations are used in overall evaluation of teaching. A summary of course evaluations are also included as part of the faculty tenure and/or promotion file. The VCAA office provides more detailed information regarding teaching evaluations.
As a result of the recently completed faculty contract negotiations, a joint UEA-Administration task force was developed to address and simplify of teaching evaluation forms. Faculty and administration were generally not satisfied with the former evaluation forms. The committee developed a new form based on current literature and best practices. This form will take the place of all other forms except for online courses, for which a separate but similar form is being developed. The new teaching evaluation instrument was piloted in fall 2007 with full implementation of the new instrument moving forward in spring 2008.
Course evaluations are used as part of the overall evaluation of teaching for faculty. The results of the evaluation of teaching, research, and service are used to determine annual merit awards and are part of the promotion and tenure system. Evidence that faculty members adjust instruction to enhance student learning is found in the use of formative mid-term instructional assessment that results in changes made in the second half of the term. Specific examples of adjustments made to improve teaching are also frequently found in the annual faculty performance reports. In all colleges the course evaluations for tenure-track faculty are reviewed on a yearly basis by the dean. This is a constructive evaluation not only to evaluate the teaching of the faculty member for purposes of merit awards, tenure, and promotion but also to improve instruction so desired student outcomes are likely to be achieved. This constructive review of teaching evaluations is conducted to better serve students and to enhance the instructional mission of the department and college involved.
One indicator and recognition of overall institutional achievement or success is provided by rankings such as those published by U.S. News & World Report UMD has consistently done relatively well in the U.S. News rankings, most recently being ranked 10th among Top Midwest Public Universities with Master’s Programs. The UMD Department of Chemical Engineering was ranked 5th in the nation for Best Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Programs at all masters or bachelors institutions by the just-released U.S. News & World Report issue of "America's Best Colleges," 2008 edition. The entire UMD Engineering Program was ranked 38th in the nation for Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs at all masters or bachelors institutions.
As reported and discussed in Chapter 5, the University conducts a survey of a sample of students at all five campuses to ask about student satisfaction in a variety of areas each two years. Referred to as the University of Minnesota Student Experience Survey (SES), the most recent survey was conducted via Internet in April 2007. The survey asks about satisfaction in a variety of areas including overall satisfaction with the experience at the University and satisfaction with educational programs and coursework. A total of 1043 UMD undergrads were included in the survey sample and 489 (47%) of them responded; a total of 519 UMD graduate professional students were included in the survey sample and 301 (58%) of them responded.
2007 University of Minnesota Student Experience Survey
Results for UMD Students
As reported in the table, more than 80% of the students in each of the groups reported being "very satisfied or moderately satisfied" with their overall experience at UMD. Over 50% of the graduating seniors and graduate students and 47% of the undergraduates overall rated the overall quality of their academic programs at UMD as "excellent or very good." And, finally, over 55% of the undergraduates and 64% of the graduate students rated the overall quality of the instruction they received at UMD as being "excellent or very good." Given the emphasis and priority given to quality teaching and instruction at UMD, the findings for the last item in the table are gratifying and provide evidence that, indeed, UMD is achieving at a high level in this component of its mission.
UMD’s priority on student learning is reflected in multiple ways. The variety of assessment tools used across campus reflect UMD’s commitment to high quality teaching and learning. Teaching effectiveness is measured in multiple ways and used to make personnel decisions and plans for improvement. With a focus on the future, UMD is deeply invested in its current process of liberal education reform and the development of campus-wide learning outcomes. UMD has worked to develop a strong system of processes that reflect its mission of excellence in teaching and learning. As evidenced by the results of the most recent University survey of student satisfaction, the emphasis and focus on quality teaching and learning at UMD has achieved positive results. Over 55% of UMD undergraduate and graduate students responding to the survey rate the quality of instruction they received as "excellent or very good."
The organization values and supports effective teaching.
The UMD mission includes a commitment to the traditional areas of teaching, research, and service. Members of the campus community recognize that at UMD teaching is considered the most important of these three areas. The mission statements of each college, vice chancellor program, and all campus services support quality teaching. Further evidence of support for teaching include the criteria for promotion and tenure, criteria for annual salary merit awards, teaching loads of the faculty, and the level of support for teaching from University central administration in the form of grant money, extensive training opportunities, and a variety of teaching awards. Each unit within UMD supports teaching and learning in some way.
The granting of indefinite tenure and promotion of faculty are among the most important investments in human capital that are made at UMD and other universities. Tenure is the keystone for academic freedom and academic excellence and is awarded for academic and professional merit. The Regents Policy on Faculty Tenure is the comprehensive institutional code that articulates the formal relationship between the University and its faculty. The tenure code was adopted by the Board of Regents in 1945 and continues to uphold "the conviction that a well-defined statement of rules is essential to the protection of academic freedom and to the promotion of excellence at the University of Minnesota. A well-designed promotion and tenure system ensures that considerations of academic quality will be the basis for academic personnel decisions, and thus provides the foundation for academic excellence." (Preamble, Regents Policy on Faculty Tenure)
As noted in Chapter 2, given the collective bargaining status of UMD faculty, procedures and processes for personnel decisions and some other important terms and conditions of employment are slightly different than is true for other campuses in the University. While guided by Regents policy, procedures for promotion and tenure for UMD faculty members are identified in Section 200.000, the Personnel Policies section of the current UEA collective bargaining agreement with the University. More specifically the procedures are specified in Section 201.400 Procedures for Promotion and Conferral of Indefinite Tenure. In addition to the information provided in the UEA contract, the UMD VCAA office also provides information that discusses the applicability of the Regents tenure policy to the promotion and tenure process at UMD.
Administration and UEA representatives have worked closely to ensure that the UMD promotion and tenure processes are both rigorous and equitable. Colleges and departments are expected to make all criteria for securing tenure and promotion clear and unambiguous and to readily communicate the criteria and rules within a transparent process. Per the Faculty Tenure policy, each academic unit must "have a document that articulates with reasonable specificity the indices and standards which will be used to evaluate whether candidates meet the criteria of subsection 7.11." This document is informally called a "7-12 statement," referring to Section 7.12 of the Faculty Tenure policy. As an example, UMD’s Department of Communication Science Disorders 7.12 statement clearly illustrates the importance of teaching at UMD. Statements are administratively reviewed and approved by University central administration. Upon approval by UMD’s chancellor, promotion and tenure recommendations are forwarded to University central administration and the Board of Regents for approval conferral of indefinite tenure and promotion in rank. The University Tenure Code is the document which outlines the specific policies and procedures to be followed in the promotion and tenure process.
In June of 2007, the Board of Regents approved historic changes in the Regents Policy on Faculty Tenure. These changes represent a faculty-driven process to increase the rigor in tenure and promotion standards at the University. UEA and Academic Administration are currently in the process of updating the tenure code applicability document to reflect whether or not changes in the new tenure code are consistent with the 2006-09 UEA contract..
The Tenure Code also outlines processes and procedures for review of tenured faculty, also known as post-tenure review. Again, for UMD faculty members, the applicable processes and procedures for post-tenure review are included in the current UEA contract negotiated with the University. Specifically, the goals and expectations and the process and procedure for post-tenure review are identified in Section 201.700 Review of Tenured Faculty Performance in the current contract. The purpose of post-tenure review is to give faculty members an opportunity for review in order to maintain and improve their performance in teaching, research, and service. It also provides a means for assisting faculty members who are experiencing difficulties in achieving their expectations. Annual review of faculty members already takes place pursuant to the Faculty Compensation Policy in order to determine annual salary increases and to offer suggestions for enhancing productivity, where appropriate. Post-tenure review provides an opportunity for special review in cases of substandard performance.
The tenured and tenure-track faculty members in each department have developed individual post-tenure review documents which reflect minimum standards of acceptable performance for tenured faculty members. Post-tenure review statements outline specific standards and indices for teaching, research, and service in each department. The post-tenure review statement for UMD’s Department of Social Work provides a good example of standards and indices for tenured faculty. It is expected that faculty members will meet or exceed the minimum standards established by their department or request in advance a change in work assignment through established collegiate and contract procedures. It is the expectation of the tenured faculty in each department that they will participate collectively in applying the post-tenure standards to tenured faculty performance and make recommendations to the college dean during the review periods established by union contract. The post-tenure review process provides a framework for continuing a high level of performance by tenured faculty in keeping with UMD’s mission of providing quality teaching.
The evaluation of faculty performance is well defined as evidenced by the extent of information provided to faculty regarding teaching excellence. The references to teaching in each of the following examples of forms and reports completed by or for faculty to be used for evaluating performance provide evidence of the value that UMD places on high quality teaching.
Teaching and Advising. The University of Minnesota system wide Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education (Morse Award) represents the highest recognition by the University community of its most distinguished scholar-teachers. The award recognizes excellence in contributing directly and indirectly to students' learning through teaching, research, and creative activities; advising; academic program development; and educational leadership. It is given annually to a select group of exceptional faculty members nominated by their respective colleges from any of the four University campuses. Morse Award recipients receive a $3,000 continuous augmentation to their annual salary during their lifetime as a University faculty member, and their department is given $1,500 annually for five years to be used by the recipient for professional development or research. In addition to the recognition and monetary reward provided to the individual award recipients, the Morse Award contributes to the improvement of undergraduate education at the University by publicizing the recipients' laudable work as a resource for the whole faculty.
The complete listing of Morse Award recipients indicates that one UMD faculty member was recognized as a recipient during 2006-2007, and eight have been selected to receive the award since the last institutional accreditation visit in fall 1997. Since its inception in 1965, there have been a total of 31 Morse Award recipients from UMD.
The system-wide Award for Outstanding Contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education is comparable to the Morse Award, but annually recognizes a faculty member for outstanding contributions to post-baccalaureate, graduate, and/or professional education. The nomination process and the monetary rewards provided to recipients are the same for this award as for the Morse Award. Also, similar to the Morse Award, in addition to honoring individual faculty members, the award contributes to the improvement of post-baccalaureate, graduate, and professional education at the University by publicizing recipients’ work to serve as a resource to the whole faculty. One UMD faculty member has received this award since its inception in 1999.
Established in 1999, the Academy of Distinguished Teachers (Academy) is a forum through which its members provide important leadership to the University community, serving as mentors, advisers, and spokespersons for promoting excellence in teaching and learning throughout the organization. Academy members come from all four of the University’s campuses – Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and the Twin Cities. As indicated at its web site, the mission of the Academy “is to recognize and celebrate teaching excellence, to foster the continued improvement of teaching and learning at the University of Minnesota, and to strengthen the resources necessary to do so.” Winners of both the Morse Award and the Award for Contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education comprise the membership of the Academy. By virtue of their selection as recipients of one of the two awards, 32 UMD faculty members are also members of the Academy.
The University of Minnesota system award John Tate Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising (Tate Award) serves to recognize and reward high-quality academic advising throughout the University. They call attention to the contribution academic advising makes to helping students formulate and achieve intellectual, career, and personal goals. By highlighting examples of outstanding advising, the Tate Awards identify professional models and celebrate the role that advising plays in the University’s educational mission. Faculty and staff from all University campuses are eligible to be nominated for these awards. In addition to the public recognition of their work, recipients are granted a $1500 stipend. One of the four recipients of a Tate Award for 2006-2007 was the Director of Career Services at UMD. Four faculty and staff members have received a Tate Award since the last institutional accreditation visit in 1997, and a total of six faculty and staff members have received such an award since its inception in 1986.
In addition to the preceding examples of University programs that publicly recognize outstanding contributions to teaching, UMD has initiated programs to recognize outstanding teaching and advising on campus. As reported at the Faculty Awards web site, UMD recognizes outstanding contributions to teaching and advising through the Jean G. Blehart Distinguished Teaching Award, Albert Tezla Teacher/Scholar Award, and Outstanding Faculty Advisor Awards. The Blehart and Tezla awards each recognize the work and contributions of one faculty member annually, and the Outstanding Faculty Advisor Awards recognize one individual for each of the five collegiate units for excellence in advising. The 2006-2007 recipients of the preceding awards are identified at the Faculty Awards web site. In addition to campus-level programs, each of the five collegiate units publicly recognizes outstanding teaching as part of its annual awards program.
ITSS offers a variety of technology training opportunities for faculty, most of which include a good dose of pedagogical techniques. The most popular ITTS training opportunity is Tech Camp, instituted in 1999. Tech Camp consists of seven full days of intensive training to assist faculty in the development of media-assisted delivery of their course, or to develop an online course. Each group is limited to 20 faculty or less to guarantee individualized attention. Tech Camp is offered at convenient times for faculty (between semesters or during the summer) so they can fully immerse themselves in the program. As an incentive, participants each receive $2,000 for needed hardware or software and 20 hours of additional student assistance.
In the early tech camps instruction focused on what faculty needed to enhance their courses with technology, such as web site design and creation, presentation software, and grading tools. Current Tech Camps focus on online course development, connecting instructional design and pedagogy to online teaching tools, and designing and managing web sites. Tech camp has been tremendously successful. At the end of Tech Camp 10 in January 2007, over 200 faculty had participated and the funding exceeded $400,000. Tech Camp 11 is planned for May 2008.
The Instructional Development Service began in 1984 as a service dedicated to supporting UMD’s commitment to effective teaching and learning by supporting faculty throughout their academic careers. IDS provides services to all faculty regardless of rank or appointment and works individually with faculty to set objectives.
IDS staff work toward:
IDS activities include individual consultation, group consultation, workshops, newsletter editing, writing and production, committee involvement, and special projects. Individual consultations over the past year totaled over 200 hours. IDS staff also serve as consultants to numerous groups across campus and give presentations on a wide range of topics that focus on teaching and learning.
High quality teaching and learning are central to UMD’s mission. The value of high quality instruction is recognized throughout campus. To be awarded indefinite tenure and receive promotion in rank, faculty must demonstrate a commitment to high quality teaching and good results on student course evaluations. The level of annual merit increases for faculty are also related to measures of teaching effectiveness. And, finally, faculty who excel in teaching are recognized through teaching award programs. UMD also demonstrates it values and supports effecting teaching by providing programs to support faculty in this area. Programs such as Instructional Development Service and Tech Camp have been effective in supporting faculty in the use of new pedagogies and technology and provide evidence of UMD’s strong commitment to excellence in teaching.
The organization creates effective learning environments.
UMD has invested heavily in a broad range of systems, services, and programs to create and support effective learning environments both inside and outside the classroom. The following sections identify and describe some examples of these investments.
UMD's Information Technology Systems and Services (ITSS) provides a wide variety of services to students in support of their learning needs. These include:
The ITSS Student Computing Team has primary responsibility for services to students. This team tracks a set of measures, which are updated each semester. The team watches for increases in demand, as reflected by their measures, and uses these in making decisions about how to most effectively use their resources to provide services. The student computing team also administers an annual survey of students and faculty who use student computing facilities, including teaching labs. The results of this survey help inform the team's decisions.
Other ITSS teams provide additional services for students and track them with measures. These include the Classroom Team (classroom equipment and services), Customer Service Team (service delivery), Desktop Support Team (computer support and repair), Help Desk Team (problem reporting and assistance), Management Team (all services), Phone/ Network Team (residence hall telephone and network, campus network and wireless), Student Supervision Team (supervision of student employees), Systems Team (email, web, printing, file storage, etc.), and World Wide Web Team (web services).
Technology Available in Campus Classrooms: ITSS provides an extensive array of technology to support teaching and learning by supplying technology for classrooms. All general-purpose classrooms are equipped with a standard suite of equipment: network connection, wireless networking, projection screen, computer projector, overhead projector, and DVD/VCR player. Some classrooms have additional equipment, such as cameras, cassette players, microphones, sound systems, slide projectors, and smart boards. There are detailed instructions at the ITSS web site for how to use the technology equipment in each classroom.
Technology Available in Residence Halls: Each residence hall room has a network connection for each student and a telephone. Study lounges are equipped with wireless networking. ResNet is the residential network service provided to students living on-campus at UMD. In fall 2007, 98% of students activated their network connections in the residence halls.
Strong advising is an integral part of creating an effective learning environment. UMD has made advising one of its top priorities over the past decade and has made significant investments in advising and related programming. A detailed description of this initiative can be found in Chapter 5.
The UMD Honors Program is designed to bring together high-achieving students and dedicated faculty and to provide a small university environment within the diversity of opportunity of the larger university community. The Honors Program is now in its fifth year and currently has over 150 students. This program offers motivated students who are serious about their intellectual growth a variety of special classes enhanced by many cultural events and activities as well as leadership and research opportunities. The Honors Program fosters close individual contact between students and faculty and brings together talented students with many interests. Incoming freshmen are invited to participate in the Honors Program based on test scores and high school rank. Students can also apply to participate in the program after the first semester of their freshman year.
Honors courses have been developed across a wide range of liberal education categories. Social and cultural opportunities are also available to Honors students – the “Pizza with the Prof” series gives students an opportunity to talk informally with faculty about their research interests. The Honors Program offers workshops on applying for major scholarships and graduate programs. There is a designated section of UMD Housing reserved for Honors students. Field trips and cultural events are also organized each semester. Last year the students initiated an Honors Club which was very active. The club organized movie nights, service projects, and hosted a spring banquet. New this year is an Honors Journal which is both student-edited and student-produced, with invited submissions from across disciplines. More information about the Honors Program, including the admissions process, Honors courses, faculty and program activities is available at the UMD Honors Program web site.
The Supportive Services Program (SSP) annually serves more than 1200 students and consists of classes, workshops, academic advising, and the Tutoring Center, which provides individualized and small group instruction by peers to students seeking help with homework for lower division courses such as business and economics, chemistry, computer science, foreign language, mathematics and statistics, physics, and writing. The Tutoring Center’s philosophy is that: “All students should have the opportunity to succeed at their studies. Ideally, a university should be a cooperative community that not only challenges students but also provides a support network that maximizes each student’s chance of success.” In the spirit of this belief, the tutoring program strives to create a network of tutorial academic support for all students. When students collaborate using established cooperative learning strategies, the likelihood of academic success and enjoyment of learning both increase. According to national research, the peer group is the factor with the single greatest impact on academic success. Each semester 85 to 100 peer tutors who reflect the diversity of students on campus are available to work with students on a walk-in basis in the Center. Tutors are selected based on their success in the course(s) they will tutor, and they complete a tutor and training program offered by SSP. The peer tutors are scheduled and supervised by the Tutoring Program Coordinator. During 2006-2007, 167 tutors conducted a total of almost 15,000 individual and small group tutoring sessions at UMD.
SSP 1000: Introduction to College Learning: Introduction to College Learning (ICL) is a 1- or 2-credit UMD-wide orientation course. This course was developed to help new students with their transition into the university community. The course currently enrolls approximately 1,100 freshmen each year. Topics addressed in this course include UMD technology, time management, study strategies, career/major exploration, academic planning, and electronic learning portfolio development. Introduction to College Learning also promotes an environment where students can form connections with their instructor, teaching assistant, and fellow students. The course instructors are current UMD faculty and staff who work closely with new students and have a desire to provide meaningful support and outreach to them. Students receive practical experience and timely information which is based on new student needs and developmental stages. In addition, special sections of ICL are offered which focus on exploring majors and careers and making successful educational, career and life decisions. The Labovitz School of Business and Economics and the School of Fine Arts both require their freshman students to enroll in the ICL courses.
The University of Minnesota Duluth is committed to providing equal educational opportunities to all students. UMD values diversity as a means of enriching the educational experience of all students, recognizes disability as an aspect of diversity, and appreciates disability as an integral part of society. To that end, Disability Services and Resources works with students, faculty, staff and the larger community to create usable, equitable, and inclusive learning environments. UMD offers students with disabilities such as learning disorders, deaf/hard of hearing, physical, visual or psychological disabilities a variety of services and accommodations to insure that both facilities and programs are accessible. Services include test accommodations, note taking assistance, sign language interpreters, assistive technology, books/materials in alternative format, priority registration, advocacy and problem resolution.
Career Services helps UMD students and alumni develop, evaluate, and implement their career plans. Professionally trained counselors are available to assist in all aspects of the career/life planning process. This includes choosing courses, majors, and careers; dealing with academic difficulties; identifying internship and employment possibilities; deciding on and applying to graduate and professional programs; and learning job search skills such as writing a resume and cover letter. Counselors are also available to address the particular concerns of current and potential students. In addition, Career Services offers a wide variety of ongoing programming such as job fairs and frequent lectures on relevant topics such as “Is Graduate School Right for You?” or “How to Ace Your Next Interview.”
Career services also conducts an annual survey of UMD graduates to find out where graduates are employed, how related those jobs are to their majors, and average salaries by major. Reports on placement of UMD graduates who respond to the Career Services survey are provided for each of the years since 2000-2001 in the Graduate Follow-Up Report available from the Career Services office. Additionally, Career Services maintains an up-to-date job and internship listing, and offers an extensive list of internet resources to help students set and meet their career goals.
Incoming fall freshmen have the opportunity to participate in UMD’s Four-Year Graduation Plan. Under this plan, if a student is unable to graduate within eight continuous semesters of registration due to the unavailability of a course (or courses) in the initially declared major, the University will pay the tuition (minus other forms of financial aid exclusive of loans) for the unavailable course(s) in a fifth year. There is no penalty if a student signs the agreement and later decides to pursue another opportunity that may prevent graduation in four years. Students who elect this plan must contact their collegiate student affairs office.
In recognition of outstanding academic achievements, UMD offers a number of academic scholarships for incoming freshmen. The Founders Free Tuition Program is a special award program of the University that provides financial assistance to qualified incoming freshmen at all system campuses who meet certain financial need requirements. More information about this program is available from the UMD Admissions Office.
The Founders Free Tuition Program is a need-based award program that works in combination with other scholarships, federal and state grants, and work-study programs. For qualified students, the Founders Opportunity Scholarship fully covers University tuition and required fees. The program will benefit a majority of students from families with an annual income less than $50,000. These are the students who most typically qualify for a federal Pell grant. Pell-eligibility, not income level, is the defining criterion for eligibility for the Founders Opportunity Program. The Founders Free Tuition Program is renewable for up to four years as long as the student remains in good academic standing and enrolls full-time every fall and spring semester.
UMD has placed a high priority on diversity and creating an environment that is open, accepting, and just. In an effort to promote increased diversity among the faculty at UMD the Chancellor instituted the Diversity Initiative Awards. Each year since 1999 faculty have been invited to submit proposals for internal grants to fund the support of diversity hiring or to fund a minority guest speaker or faculty in residence. While on campus it is expected that the faculty-in-residence would work in regularly scheduled classrooms or labs; give a public lecture, exhibition, or otherwise share her or his expertise in a public forum; and be available to meet with interested faculty and students. To date close to $250,000 of funding has been distributed for this initiative, supporting a wide range of faculty and programs across all collegiate units.
Faculty, administration, and staff at UMD have worked hard to create a learning climate that supports each student in her or his individual development. UMD places a high value on creating effective learning environments that support the diverse needs of our student body. As evidenced above, UMD has developed a wide range of programs and services designed to help students meet their educational goals and to optimize student learning.
The organization’s learning resources support student learning and effective teaching.
UMD has a number of learning resources that support student learning and effective teaching. Two of the most essential components of a student and faculty support network are the availability and easy access to library and technology resources. As described in the following section, the addition of the new state-of-the-art library building at UMD and the commitment of the library staff to serving students, faculty, and other patrons is a major strength of the UMD support system for learning outside of the classroom. Additionally, more information on the availability of information technology provided by the Information Technology Systems and Services (ITSS) unit at UMD is presented following the section on the library.
The UMD Library supports student learning and effective teaching through its collections, services, and facilities. The library’s mission is to promote learning and research by providing information resources and services, up-to-date technologies, and knowledgeable staff in a welcoming environment.
The Library delivers an impressive array of information resources. The electronic collection includes almost 170 proprietary research databases, such as the Web of Science, more than 30,880 e-books, and 28,486 unique electronic periodicals. Access to all of these resources is provided to users through a variety of channels, including the Library's Web site, E-Journal Locator, and online catalog, as well as Google Scholar and WorldCat. Students, staff, and faculty can access these electronic information resources from anywhere in the world through the campus proxy server.
UMD Library’s traditional physical collection has more than 1.4 million print and nonprint items; including more than 369,000 books, 220,700 bound periodicals (with 1,411 current print periodical subscriptions), 808,769 items in micro formats, 18,196 nonprint titles (videotapes, audiocassettes, DVDs, vinyl records, etc.), and 831 maps. In FY 2007, the Library circulated 107,155 items. Close to 50 percent of these items circulated to undergraduate students. Heavy use of the Library’s electronic resources is evident but is more difficult to quantify. Students and faculty have ready access to the University of Minnesota's University Libraries (with a collection numbering six million volumes) through a combined online catalog and via resource-sharing services brokered by MINITEX. UMD Library also provides access to materials not available in our state via interlibrary loan.
The UMD Library provides library instruction classes to teach students how to identify, evaluate, and effectively use information. Basic instruction is integrated into the first-year writing course required for all entering freshmen. Beyond that, instruction is given for advanced composition classes and for specific courses across the curriculum. These instruction sessions are developed in collaboration with faculty and are constructed around discipline-specific resources chosen to address identified learning outcomes. Graduate students are targeted for in-depth instruction in their fields. Online course and study guides as well as tools such as the Assignment Calculator support and extend instructional efforts. Librarians also provide help for students through Instant Messaging, e-mail, telephone, and desk reference as well as through individual consultations. Librarians specialize in subject areas and, as department liaisons, provide consultations and demonstrations for faculty on information resources, keeping faculty informed of new resources and library services.
The main library building (which opened in September 2000) and the Annex (previously the Health Science Library) provide 167,570 gross square feet of space. Highlights of the library facilities include a seminar classroom, an interactive television classroom, two electronic instruction classrooms, three adaptive technology rooms, a Video Relay Service station, 26 group study rooms (18 with hardwired internet connections), and seating for more than 1,500 students at reading tables, carrels, and lounge furniture distributed throughout the complex. There are 300 computers available for use in the Library, and all public areas have authenticated wireless access, including group study rooms.
Methods of assessment used by library staff include faculty surveys, regular meetings of the director and assistant director with UMD Student Association officers, and a comments feature on our web site. Statistics are kept on circulation, usage of electronic databases, reference transactions, and teaching resources. A collection analysis instrument is used to help manage acquisition budgets.
While the library has excellent fiscal and management processes for acquiring resources, finding funding to support new programs, new resources, and inflationary increases on existing resources is always difficult. Staff are challenged to increase access to information and provide instruction in convenient and immediate ways. Examples include more online self-help features for services (checking out materials), more instructional tools on the library web site (quick tips for using a database), and links to information resources incorporated in online course materials generated by course management software such as WebCT and Moodle. The Library’s current challenge is to design a variety of technology-enhanced collaborative learning spaces staffed by knowledgeable personnel that enables students to use and integrate the latest information into their creative work. The challenge is to bring together in one physical location library services and other selected services that seamlessly support student learning.
UMD has a longstanding commitment to technology in support of teaching and learning. As noted previously, Information Technology Systems and Services (ITSS) has done an outstanding job of providing technology infrastructure, equipment, software, and training to create what is now a strong support system that is heavily used by students and faculty. As early as 1987 all students in the required freshman writing class were required to write their exams on a computer. At that time the EPC approved a computing component for the freshman writing requirement. Because all students are required to complete a writing course, this was a significant financial commitment. Faculty at first were trained by the department; later by ITSS and the Tech Camp initiative described previously. The use of technology now is a part of nearly every academic program on campus. Many classes meet in computer classrooms. All general-purpose classrooms are equipped with a suite of technology (detailed previously). Wireless is available everywhere on campus. ITSS partners with the Instructional Development Service (IDS) to provide training in the effective use of technology to support quality pedagogy. Additional information about ITSS faculty resources and ITSS student resources are available online.
As part of assessment at UMD, students now participate in the EDUCAUSE national Educational Center of Applied Research (ECAR) Technology Survey to discover how UMD students rate in relation to students at other universities in their knowledge and use of technology. The survey focuses on what kinds of information technologies these students use, own, and experience; their technology behaviors, preferences, and skills; how IT impacts their experiences in their courses; and their perceptions of the role of IT in the academic experience. The results of this national survey showed that UMD students have a very high level of acceptance of technology as support for their education. For example, over 80% of UMD students reported they owned their own computers, and 100% of students reported using an e-mail account and web space provided by UMD.
UMD’s Knowledge Management Center (KMC) is a centrally located service wherein students, faculty, staff, and alumni have access to services and resources for effectively documenting and managing educational and professional records. Professional staff regularly offer workshops on how to use the latest tools for documenting and managing educational and professional records such as ePortfolio, Graduation Planner, and other emerging software systems. KMC also focuses on the development of integrative software for managing University enterprise system and self-reported educational records. These services focus on empowering learners to effectively document and manage learning objectives (educational and professional digital information, records, artifacts, and knowledge).
ePortfolio is an online, integrated University database where a variety of student records, work samples, and planning documents are electronically housed. Available to all University students, faculty, staff, and alumni, ePortfolio provides a dynamic and efficient mechanism for integrating official University and self-reported academic, career, and personal information. Users can easily store, view, and selectively share this information with others anywhere, anytime via the web. UMD staff who have been involved in the ePortfolio project from the beginning have created a UMD ePortfolio web site that provides links to information about using and “navigating” the system.
The Graduation Planner is an online, interactive way for students to plan for their graduation. Students are able to plan for their declared major/minor, view their degree requirements, see what term courses are generally offered, view prerequisites for the course, and acess many other features. The Graduation Planner is a valuable tool for use by students and advisors as they work together on planning academic progress at UMD. Both ePortfolio and the Graduation Planner were discussed in more detail in Chapter Five.
As stated a number of times previously, excellence in teaching and learning are the foundation of the UMD mission, and the organization has invested heavily in support of this most important component of the campus mission. Enhancements in technology, ready access to information and services, and UMD’s state-of-the-art library have contributed to the creation of a leading edge 21st century higher education environment on campus. Faculty are able to provide high quality instruction in this supportive environment; and while using the library and technology to support and supplement their classroom learning activities during their time at UMD, student learners are being prepared for successful lives in the contemporary world where they will work and live when they graduate. UMD is committed to supporting effective teaching and student learning and will continue to leverage technology and pedagogical advances to respond to the changing needs of both students and faculty in the campus instructional environment.
This chapter described and discussed how UMD is fulfilling its mission of providing quality instruction as part of its commitment and dedication to excellence in all its programs and operations. Information and descriptions of the promotion and tenure policy and teaching and advising award programs at UMD presented in the chapter provide evidence that the organization values and supports effective teaching. Information describing the heavy investment UMD has made to provide a broad range of systems, services, and programs to create and support an effective student learning and teaching environment both inside and outside the classroom is also presented. Examples and evidence demonstrating how UMD has created an overall environment to promote and nurture student learning and effective teaching are presented throughout the chapter.
While reviewing the work done to create an environment that supports and promotes effective student learning and teaching, the following strengths and areas for improvement were identified.
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