Chapter 8:  Criterion Four, Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge

            The organization promotes a life of learning for its faculty, administration, staff, and students fostering and supporting inquiry, creativity, practice, and social responsibility in ways consistent with its mission.

 

At the heart of it all is the college’s support of a life of learning by the students, faculty, staff, and the residents of its region.  Through policies, support services for campus constituents, academic programs and research, outreach activities, and cultural events, the college allocates its resources to this end.  Always with an eye to the changing society it serves, and the increasingly global and technological workplace that its students face, the college strives to balance the needs of residential and distance learners.

 

Core Component 4a.  The organization demonstrates, through the actions of its board, administrators, students, faculty, and staff, that it values a life of learning.

 

Evaluative statement for all of Component 4a

The strategic plans and policies of the Nebraska State College System (NSCS) and Chadron State College clearly articulate the collective institutional value of and commitment to continual learning throughout one’s career and life.  Extensive resources are devoted to support the professional development and scholarly activities of its students, faculty, and staff.

 

Evidence Cited

            1.  Strategic planning documents for NSCS and CSC

            2.  Faculty and Professional Staff Handbooks; Faculty job descriptions

3.  Resources allocated to support professional development and scholarly activities

 

Discussion of 1st item of evidence - Strategic planning documents for NSCS and CSC

·         The NSCS strategic plan (www.nscs.edu/StratPlan.html) identifies core values that include the primary value of providing a stimulating, caring, and enriching learning experience.  Educational excellence is recognized as a priority.  Further, this plan recognizes the central importance of academic integrity, recognition and reward of excellence, and investment in human resources to support its vision.  Currently the Board of Trustees is examining the plan which was adopted five years ago and making revisions. 

·         As part of its strategic plan, the NSCS is implementing a new forum for all faculty members in the system called the Faculty College.  This two-day annual conference and workshop will be held each May commencing in 2007.  At the gathering faculty members will share innovative teaching techniques and learn about best practices in teaching and learning.

·         The CSC Vision 2011 strategic plan is discussed extensively throughout this self-study (see Chapter Five, Criterion One).  In this section the specific areas that support the institutional values and commitment to continual learning are outlined.  Four of the six focus areas of Vision 2011 apply directly to this value.  Within each of the focus areas are separate objectives that provide detail to the focus.  These are:

Institutional Community: Achieve a collegial institutional environment that encourages and assists students, faculty, and staff in realizing their potentials and reaching their aspirations.  Objectives include academic freedom and responsibility, professional development, and recognizing achievement.

Regional Service: Improve the quality of service to the western High Plains states.  Objective includes distributed learning and responsiveness.

Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activity: Achieve higher levels of scholarly, creative, and research activity.  Objectives include collaboration and support.

Teaching and Learning: Improve effectiveness of teaching and learning.  Objectives include assessment, breadth and depth of knowledge, broad perspective, diversity, enriched and supportive learning environment, information literacy, student-centered learning, and teaching and learning technology. 

§         In the past three years, $702,501 has been allocated to Vision 2011 funding proposals (RR15).  Of these proposals, $236,740 has been specifically earmarked for teaching, learning and professional development activities.  Proposals funded include: attendances for faculty and students at conferences; implementation of campus-based conferences and workshops for students, faculty, and staff; increasing campus technology resources; teaching with technology; and enhancements to student learning such as a Writing Center and a Speaking Center, and the Student Senate Leadership Seminar.  An information literacy course has been developed this year by the Director of Library & Learning Resources.  At the January 2007 all-campus meeting, table talks (RR86) were used to brainstorm additional ideas for creating a caring and supportive environment for students, faculty, and staff, as well as ways to provide more support to faculty for distance learning and technology. 

 

Discussion of 2nd item of evidence – Faculty and Professional Staff Handbooks; Faculty job descriptions
  • Chadron State College subscribes to the concept of applied scholarship presented by Ernest Boyer in his book, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate (PRR16).  Significant campus conversations regarding scholarship occurred in 1998-99 and the Vice President of Academic Affairs staff read and discussed Boyer’s book at meetings and retreats.  A team of faculty and administrators was sent to an American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) annual meeting on scholarship, and brought back to the campus discussions on expanding the definition and understanding of scholarship to include the scholarship of teaching and learning.  During the biennial contract revisions with the faculty union for 2001-03, additional types of scholarship were articulated as examples that could be used in the application for promotion and tenure.  A revision of professional and faculty evaluation documents further increased the college’s reward and recognition of varying forms of scholarship and creative activity.  The faculty and professional staff handbooks were updated to reflect these changes in the negotiated agreement and evaluation documents.
  • Faculty job descriptions include three areas:  teaching and student growth and development; scholarship; and service.  These job descriptions were updated in 2002 (RR114) to reflect the concept of applied scholarship and the examples of types of scholarship articulated in the negotiated agreement.  Significant resources of the college are designated to support faculty in fulfilling their positions with regard to scholarship and professional development as described below.

 

Discussion of 3rd item of evidence - Resources allocated to support professional development and scholarly activities

Significant resources of the college have been allocated in support of faculty, students and staff as described below.  Many of these items have already been cited in greater detail in Chapter Seven, Criterion Three, Core Component 3b, Discussion of 2nd item of evidence.  Those items are only briefly mentioned here.

  • All employees of Chadron State College may take college courses using faculty and staff tuition waivers.  CSC provides staff dependent waivers are also available for members of the immediate families of employees. In the current academic year this represents an investment by the college in its people of $63,106.12.
  • Resources provided to faculty in addition to school and departmental operations, library, and equipment budgets include $500 per faculty per year for travel to conferences and professional development activities, which amounts to $52,500 each year.
  • The library provides $42,000 each year for faculty to purchase books for the library to support the scholarship of students and faculty.  $20,000 was allocated last year to purchase the JSTOR system * for the library.  This system makes possible the electronic access of full-manuscript research articles from over one hundred journals.
  • The Faculty Senate Professional Development Committee has $16,000 per year that it distributes to faculty for attending and presenting at conferences. 
  • College vehicles are provided for use by faculty or faculty with groups of students in professional development activities.
  • Each year the college awards a minimum of two sabbatical or personal leave requests to faculty for scholarly study and research
  • A new program called Mini-sabbaticals In Situ will allow tenured and non-tenured faculty to apply for three to four hours of reassigned time in a given semester to pursue special scholarship projects
  • The Faculty Senate Research Institute Committee (RIC) distributes $23,000 per year in seed money for research projects to faculty and students.
  • The college also provides workshops and professional development opportunities on the campus, which are attended by students, faculty, and staff.  Examples of these events include:  two-day workshops by Wes Habley on student advising, which were repeated in two consecutive years; John Gardner workshop on the first-year experience; Ed Zlotowski on student engagement and service-learning; NETCHE two-day workshop on the effective use of technology in teaching; Gloria Rogers workshop on academic assessment; webinars on Family Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA), crisis management planning, student retention, and advising; the Excellence in Early Childhood Education conference; and workshops on a variety of software programs including Excel, Access, Dreamweaver, PowerPoint and Word.
  • The President, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and academic deans have used their discretionary funds to provide travel support for students to attend conferences and to study abroad.  Discretionary funds have also been allocated to support new faculty who may require equipment to begin their research projects, or travel funds to report their findings.  Examples include:
    • Support for travel to and attendance at the annual Nebraska Academy of Sciences conference for both students and faculty is provided by the college, including vans, motel rooms, meals and registration.  Some of these expenses are shared with Nebraska EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) and at other times the college has covered the entire amount.  Generally four to six faculty members attend every year, with up to a dozen students.  Some of the faculty and students give presentations regarding their research, which is funded by the CSC Research Institute Committee.
    • Support for travel to and attendance at annual conferences in Justice Studies and Global Issues has been provided to faculty and students.  In 2005 ten of the Justice Studies students presented their research at an international conference in Toronto, Canada.
    • Support for travel to and participation in the International Society of Range Management conference and competitions for students, including plant identification, rangeland management exam and presentations and poster competitions.
    • Travel funds to study abroad for a month were provided to the first Nebraska student selected to participate in the federal TRIO program for at-risk students. 
    • Seed money for new faculty to assist them with jump-starting their research has been used to provide such items as clusters of computers for computer modeling projects, specialized software, digital cameras, consumable biological chemicals, digital scanning, and densitometer equipment.
    • Numerous requests are received each year by the academic deans and the academic vice president for additional assistance with travel expenses to attend conferences related to faculty and student scholarship.  Requests are usually funded for several hundred to several thousand dollars and are financed through discretionary funds available to these administrators.   

 

Core Component 4b.  The organization demonstrates that acquisition of a breadth of knowledge and skills and the exercise of intellectual inquiry are integral to its educational programs.

 

Evaluative statement for all of Component 4b

CSC’s principal goal is to facilitate the intellectual development of its students, which is best achieved through the offering of high quality educational opportunities. The college endorses a plan of study that promotes depth and proficiency in a single subject area as well as a breadth of knowledge crossing many academic disciplines.  Through its General Studies core curriculum, Graduate programs, Honors Program, many and varied senior capstone seminars, and the numerous opportunities for students to engage in creative and scholarly activities; the college seeks to promote student growth and development.

 

Evidence Cited

            1.  General Studies program in new General Catalog

            2.  Graduate programs

            3.  Honors Program

            4.  Foundations of Excellence participation

5.  Student involvement in creative activities, research and conference presentations

 

Discussion of 1st item of evidence - General Studies program in new General Catalog – (See 2007 - 2009 catalog)

  • Chadron State College offers a General Studies core curriculum for all students.  This structured inquiry into the wider world of knowledge aims to produce graduates who are constructively critical, intellectually curious, informed of global and social issues, and recognize the importance of their individual contributions toward creating a better world. 
  • This 47 credit hour core curriculum offers the students a variety of course choices in twelve required areas as follows:  Communication – three credits; Composition – six credits; Fine Arts – three credits; Global and Social Awareness – six credits of which three must be upper division; Government – three credits; Health and Wellness – three credits; History – six credits; Humanities – three credits; Mathematics – three credits; Physical Activity – two credits; Reason and Values – three credits upper division; and Science – three credits of life science and three credits of physical science.
  • During the past three years the Faculty Senate Academic Review committee (RR115) has reviewed the General Studies requirements and each of the courses in the General Studies offerings.  During the past year the committee worked with faculty who teach courses in each of the twelve areas to develop student learning outcomes and measurable performance criteria for each of the twelve areas.  These learning outcomes and performance criteria are now printed in the new college catalog, as well as appearing in course syllabi in each area of General Studies.  By fall of 2007, all General Studies syllabi will contain learning outcomes and performance criteria. (RR70) Course embedded assessments are beginning to be used in each course and faculty in each area are beginning to meet each semester to share results and discuss areas of improvement.  The college’s participation in the HLC Assessment Academy will help develop a mature assessment process based on these new outcomes and performance criteria.  Dr. Charles Snare, Dean of Arts & Sciences has oversight of General Studies and its assessment.

 

Discussion of 2nd item of evidence – Graduate Programs (See 2007 - 2009 catalog)

  • The primary purpose of the graduate program at CSC is to provide opportunities for educators, administrators, counselors, business persons, and others to become better qualified to fulfill their professional goals and to advance within their organizations.  The Graduate Program continues the faculty and institutional commitment to integrated, applicable knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors of CSC graduates.  The individual graduate programs and graduate courses are grounded in theory, yet focused on practice, strong in content, yet framed in interdisciplinary context. To this end the graduate programs provide a broader and deeper knowledge base in fields of specialization, while also providing experiences to increase leadership and communication skills, to understand and apply research techniques, and to create the foundations for more advanced study.
  • The Faculty Senate Graduate Council is responsible for directing the graduate program under the supervision of the Dean of Graduate Studies.  The council reviews and recommends approval of all new programs or changes in curricula.  It supervises all graduate work, establishes policies and recommends all candidates for the conferring of graduate degrees.
  • CSC is committed to the improvement of teaching and learning, as part of a continual effort to monitor institutional effectiveness.  This effort includes the assessment of student academic achievement at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.  Graduate assessment includes: achievement on nationally normed examinations; achievement in capstone courses; demonstrations of acquired proficiency in disciplinary-based skills; development of portfolios; oral examinations that include knowledge, skills, and review of student research, and scholarly projects; and surveys of graduates and alumni. 
  • One of the major projects identified in the college’s plan for participation in the HLC Assessment Academy is the improvement of the graduate program (RR41) assessment.  While the college has a long history of using a variety of graduate assessments, its ability to improve the programs based on these assessments has been uneven.  Dr. Margaret Crouse, Dean of Graduate Studies and Dean of Education, Human Performance, Counseling, Psychology & Social Work, has oversight of the graduate program and its assessment.    

Discussion of 3rd item of evidence - Honors Program – (See 2007 - 2009 catalog & Honors student handbook)

In 2003 the Honors Committee (RR116) completed a year-long review of the Honors Program, which resulted in a substantial revision in the program’s philosophy and offerings.  Prior to this time the Honors program focused on small seminar discussion of “Great Books,” seeking to understand human nature, social order, natural order, and the cosmic order.

  • In 2004 the Honors Program Director and professors who teach Honors courses, developed a student handbook (RR117) that detailed the requirements of the program, but more importantly provided a sense of the possibilities and opportunities that await the students in the community of scholars across the campus. 
  • The newly-designed program seeks to provide the opportunity for students to discover a diversity of opinions that convey knowledge about ourselves, our world, and our place in it through research, seminar participation, and active engagement in self-discovery.  During the students’ junior and senior year, they will work closely with major professors in developing an appropriate senior thesis within their area of study and presenting it publicly at an Honors colloquium held in the spring.  The new program has been phased in over two years to accommodate juniors and seniors under the previous program.  The first senior thesis was completed in the spring 2006.
  • Each spring, beginning in 2007, CSC professors from around the campus will be able to apply to offer an Honors seminar on the topic of their choice.  These seminars are in addition to established Honors courses that all Honors students must take.  This allows students to be exposed to diverse points of view in a wide array of topics.
  • Student learning outcomes for the Honors program have been developed by the faculty members who teach the core courses in the program.  Assessment of these outcomes is course-embedded and the faculty and Honors Committee are just beginning to collect and analyze data.  Student satisfaction surveys from the past two years have been conducted to provide mid-course corrections with regard to the structure of the Honors program. The new Honors program director is Dr. Thomas Swanke, who succeeded Dr. Matt Evertson.  The faculty members who teach the core courses in the program are Dr. George Griffith, Dr. Deane Tucker, and Dr. Brad Wilburn.  These individuals, along with the presidential Honors committee, have oversight of the program and its assessment.

   

Discussion of 4th item of evidence -  Foundations of Excellence participation

  • The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) collaborated with the Policy Center on the First Year of College to focus on developing and validating a set of “Foundations of Excellence” in the first year of college, with an accompanying certification process to measure achievement of these foundations.  The Foundations of Excellence project (PRR17), which was launched in 2003, seeks to transform current higher education practice for the freshmen year.  The project is the result of a national conversation among 219 AASCU institutions over the course of one year.  This process identified nine Foundational Dimensions that are the defining characteristics of institutional effectiveness in promoting the first year experience as a coherent whole that establishes knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes conducive for success in college and life. 
  • Chadron State College was one of twelve institutions selected in a national competition as a Founding Institution in the project.  In the spring 2003 President Krepel selected a Foundations of Excellence Task Force to guide the campus through discussions leading toward the development of a more intrusive plan for the first year experience at CSC. 
  • The college’s participation in this important project has increased the understanding of, appreciation of, and commitment to student retention, success, and graduation.  It has resulted in the development of an action plan that has only begun to be implemented.  While CSC generally has a favorable retention rate for full-time, first-year students as compared to national averages (e.g. in 2005, 71 percent compared to 62.5 percent nationally), the college still needs to become more intentional in its myriad of activities conducted by a variety of individual units on campus. 
  • In order to facilitate this needed integration, a First Year Council was established two years ago to implement the action plan that was developed during the college’s participation in the Foundation of Excellence project. This presidential committee was comprised primarily of faculty members who teach General Studies courses that are taken by freshmen students.  For two years this council attended national conferences on the first-year experience and discussed the practicalities of implementing a variety of new programs, such as learning communities.  This year, under President Park, the First Year Council was merged with the Enrollment Management – Student Success committee to form the Retention and Student Development committee.  This new committee is chaired by Dr. Gary White, Dean of Business, Economics, Applied & Mathematical Sciences.  It includes faculty from each of the three academic schools, undergraduate and graduate students, and directors from an array of student services offices.
  • The Foundations of Excellence program was originally facilitated by the then Dean of Students, Dr. Rex Cogdill, his replacement, Dean of Students,  Dr. Robert Stack, and by then Senior Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs, Dr. Joyce Hardy.  The resignations of all three of these individuals, and the appointments of their replacements, have temporarily slowed the progress in this important area.  However, as the new vice presidents and deans settle in and begin to work with the new Retention and Student Development committee, it is anticipated that the action plan based on Foundations of Excellence will continue to be implemented.     

           

Discussion of 5th item of evidence - Student involvement in creative activities, research, and conference presentations

  • The college provides curricular and co-curricular linkages that support applied research, creative endeavors, and social responsibility.  A sampling of some of these linkages is presented below.
  • Service-learning is a fairly broad educational concept that entails the application of knowledge and skills acquired in the academic setting to some form of community service.  For the past decade, a number of professors have linked special projects to their classes and curriculum.  A few of these projects are described here:
  • During the spring semester of 2000, 19 students from Dr. Kathy Bahr’s Composition II class interviewed 44 World War II veterans and war effort supporters who reside in and around the Nebraska Panhandle area. They hoped to meet a community need for recognizing and preserving the personal narratives of World War II survivors, and to develop a spirit of community service among CSC students by providing them with an opportunity to hear about the contributions and sacrifices made by an older generation, including, in some cases, their own grandparents.  Subjects include numerous decorated combat veterans, a member of the Merchant Marine, military wives, WACs, cooks, medical technicians, women who ran the ranches or worked in munitions factories at home, a military band member, and for the first time in our area, Native American veterans.  Professor Alan Schoer of the CSC Visual and Performing Arts Department designed a follow-up project in which his fall 2000 Creative Photography students met with the interview subjects and did casual portraits of them. In some cases, older photographs or news photographs were used. The students then used both digital and traditional photographic techniques to make the prints, which were framed along with one-page excerpts from the interviews, to become the WWII Veterans exhibit. In November 2000, the Nebraska Consortium for Service-Learning in Higher Education arranged for the CSC students’ work to be exhibited at the Nebraska State Capitol Rotunda to honor the World War II veterans from the western region.  The exhibit was also displayed in Washington D.C. at the senate office building.
  • A current service-learning experience for applied history students is scheduled for March 2007.  Ten students, along with the Director of the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, will travel during spring semester mid-term break to New Orleans to assist museums in New Orleans with clean-up and recovery of exhibits and archives following the destruction by Hurricane Katrina.  This experience will allow students to apply the skills they have learned in their museum studies classes and also to contribute to the restoration of museums in New Orleans.
  • Students enrolled in Physical Science for Elementary and Middle School Teachers participate in a service-learning project called Family Science Night.  In this project the college students become mentors for elementary students who create a Family Science Night in their school gymnasium or cafeteria.  The college students help the elementary students develop hands-on science activities that are then presented at Family Science Night.  Parents, other students at the school, and community residents go from table to table and participate in the hands-on science activities, where many of them have an “a-ha” experience regarding a variety of science concepts.  This activity assists the CSC students in learning how to become effective teachers, while providing a wonderful community activity.
  • Last year students enrolled in the college’s nutrition and health and wellness classes assisted their instructors in creating the Walk About Chadron program.  A subset of a state-wide program to promote weight reduction through walking, the Chadron program was very successful in recruiting hundreds of community residents and college students to participate in six months of recording their steps using pedometers and monitoring their weight and fat index.  Weekly community meetings provided an opportunity to receive encouragement and tips for healthy lifestyles.  The students took measurements of participants and assisted their instructors with the community meetings.  This opportunity provided the CSC students with a real-world application of the principals they were learning in their classes.
  • The Departments of Visual & Performing Arts and Music require their seniors to present public performances.  These include musical recitals, art shows and theatre productions.  These presentations are not only an opportunity for seniors to share their talents with the wider campus and community, but also a capstone assessment activity within the programs.
  • As mentioned previously in Core Components 4a and 2b, the Research Institute Committee provides $23,000 in funding each year for faculty and student research projects. (RR42) The students and faculty then present their research findings at the annual Nebraska Academy of Sciences meeting for which the college provides travel support.
  • Each year the faculty members in Range Management escort students to the International Society of Range Management annual conference and student competitions.  The students compete in a variety of areas including plant identification, rangeland management, and student poster and presentation competitions.  Every year CSC students win awards in this competition that demonstrates mastery of important skills.
  • A number of undergraduate and graduate academic programs have senior courses which involve outside experiences that are integrated with classroom instruction, in the form of seminars, practicums, or internships.  The capstone courses provide experience beyond the classroom walls through public seminar presentations, shadowing experiences within a variety of organizations, or internships in regional businesses.
  • In addition to these collective experiences, students also have individual or small groups experiences such as the following:
    • During the inter-term in January 2006 two faculty and ten students spent ten days in Costa Rica studying geology and the biology of rain forests.
    • In the fall of 2006 ten students presented research papers at the American Society of Criminology annual meeting in Toronto, Canada.
    • A health professions senior spent twenty days in Brazil participating in the 2004 International Mission on Medicine.
    • A senior music major performed with the National Intercollegiate Band at Carnegie Hall in May 2006.
    • A geoscience major was one of only three students chosen nationally to participate in an internship at NASA’s Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, TX.
    • Each summer twenty to thirty CSC students spend three weeks in London comparing Great Britain’s criminal justice system with that of the U.S.  This program was established in 1977, and has continued every year since then.
    • The Eagle, the CSC student newspaper, regularly wins state-wide awards at the Nebraska Press Association annual meeting each year.  In 2006 the paper won six awards at this meeting.
    • In the spring of 2006 the CSC Student Senate implemented a Student Leadership Conference for high school students.  The senate organized this two-day event that included a variety of activities and presentations.  Not only did this event enhance the leadership skills of the high school students, as well as the skills of the college students who planned, organized, and presented this seminar.

 

Core Component 4c.  The organization assesses the usefulness of its curricula to students who will live and work in a global, diverse, and technological society.

 

Evaluative statement for all of Component 4c

Beyond the yearly assessment of all academic programs by their faculty, the college engages in regular advice and counsel through the Faculty Senate Academic Review committee; external advisory boards; employer, student, and alumni surveys; and annual placement reports.  These important interactions allow the college to determine the usefulness and currency of its curricula and the services it provides to internal and external constituents.

    

Evidence Cited

            1.  Academic Review – new and updated programs

            2.  External advisory boards advise curricular decisions

            3.  Student, alumni, and employer surveys, and placement reports

                       

Discussion of 1st item of evidence - Academic Review – new and updated programs

As described in more detail in Chapter Six, Criterion Two, Core Component 2a, Discussion of 5th item of evidence, the faculty members in all academic programs regularly update the curriculum and programs of study to reflect the emerging global and social trends.  All of these changes must be approved by the Faculty Senate Academic Review committee (RR118) which includes representatives from each of the thirteen academic departments, and is chaired by the Vice President for Academic Affairs as an ex officio member of the committee.  The following are examples of recently approved changes in programs and their delivery, which reflects the college’s response to currency of curriculum and emerging trends.  See Chapter Six for details on these examples.

·        The outdated Speech & Theatre major was separated into Communication Arts and Theatre.  The Communication Arts subject major then evolved into a comprehensive major with options in communication, journalism, and the new option of public relations.

·        An interdisciplinary major in Information Management Systems was created from traditional MIS and IST offerings.  The new degree provides a combination of business and computer science skill sets that are highly valued by business and industry.

·        The Master of Science in Organizational Management degree, a Nebraska State College system-wide online degree, was developed in response to a regional need for a graduate degree that would allow a wide range of individuals to enhance their management skills and advance within their organizations.

·        The Bachelor of Applied Science effectively converts AAS and AS degrees from community colleges into terminal four-year degrees.  This new degree allows technically prepared individuals to advance by obtaining additional and relevant education.

·        “The Business Academy at Chadron State College” is an innovative adaptation of a traditional business education that reflects the realities of the business world.

 

Discussion of 2nd item of evidence - External advisory boards advise curricular decisions

As previously cited in Chapter Six, Criterion Two, Core Component 2d, external advisory boards are used by a number of programs to provide substantive input regarding the need for updates knowledge and skill sets within existing programs, as well as the development of new programs.  This information will not be repeated here, and the reader is asked to refer to this information on pages 103-104 of Chapter Six.

 

Discussion of 3rd item of evidence - Student, alumni, and employer surveys, and placement reports.

  • A number of academic programs use inputs from employers, supervisors, alumni, and certification processes to inform the faculty members with regard to assessment of the program’s effectiveness and currency.  The table below summarizes these programs and which inputs are used.  For additional detail see the program’s annual assessment reports. (PRR18)

 

          Tools

 

Department/Program

Employer reports

Alumni surveys

Certification

Supervisor reports

Applied Sciences

x

x

x

x

Business and Economics

x

x

 

x

Communications Arts

x

 

 

 

Counseling, Psych. & Social Work

 

x

 

x

Education

 

 

 

x

Extended Campus

 

x

 

 

Health, P. E. & Recreation

 

x

x

x

English and Humanities

 

x

 

 

Music

x

 

 

x

Social Sciences

 

x

 

 

 

  • The Director of Alumni Relations & Annual Giving, Karen Pope, maintains a database of over 16,500 graduates of the college.  She regularly provides this important database to the academic programs listed above that use alumni surveys.  There are other departments that conduct stand-alone surveys on occasion that also use this database.  Alumni Relations provides life-time email accounts for all graduates in an effort to maintain communication with these important constituents.
  • The website for the Office of Internship and Career Services at http://www.csc.edu/careerservices provides access to the annual placement report (RR16). The office can also provide individual information to the academic programs regarding placement of individual graduates.  In the previous academic year, 68 percent of graduates were employed in fields related to their degrees, 19 percent were hired outside their fields of study, 11 percent were enrolled in graduate or professional schools, and five percent were not looking or were still seeking employment.  Fifty-seven percent of graduates were employed in education.  Twenty-four percent were employed in business and industry, and 16 percent were in government or the non-profit sector, with 3 percent self-employed.  Sixty-two percent of the CSC graduates remained in Nebraska with 28 percent in surrounding states.  
  • Surveys of current students and faculty provide important information that can be used to make mid-course corrections in programs and services, as well as improve the services and the content of programs that are offered.  The following are examples: 

§   In 2006 an electronic survey of all residential and distance learners, as well as all full-time and part-time faculty was conducted to determine the current status of academic advising and the need and desire for additional services by students, and the need and desire for additional support and training for faculty.  The Faculty Senate Academic Review committee is analyzing the results of this survey and making recommendations for improvements.

§   Many of the college’s place-bound learners are adults, who have family and employment ties that prevent them from attending classes in Chadron.  In order to analyze the services it provides to these students, in 2006 CSC contracted with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and the Noel-Levitz company to determine how well the college embodies the eight principles of good practice that should characterize an Adult Learning Focused Institution, based on research and theories developed by CAEL.  More details are cited in Chapter Six, Criterion Two, Core Component 2a, Discussion of 4th item of evidence.

§   Currently the Student Senate is conducting a survey of Business Administration students to determine the level of satisfaction or lack thereof with the new accelerated eight-week format of “The Business Academy”.  This information will be useful to faculty as they study the academy during the current and next academic year.

§   Each semester in all online courses, a satisfaction survey by online learners is conducted.  This survey focuses on the satisfaction or lack thereof with the online format, the technical support, and the responsiveness of the system in meeting their needs and answering their questions.  These surveys are compiled by Extended Campus Programs as part of the annual assessment of its services.     

 

Core Component 4d.  The organization provides support to ensure that faculty, students, and staff acquire, discover, and apply knowledge responsibility.

 

Evaluative statement for all of Component 4d

In a very public way, the college publishes its policies and procedures about the responsible use of knowledge.  It requires all of its students to complete General Studies courses that contribute to an understanding of ethical and moral dilemmas and social responsibility.  Courses with regard to research procedures and information literacy are a regular part of the curriculum in many programs.  The Research Institute Committee (RIC) reviews faculty and student research proposals for compliance with Institutional Research Board (IRB) policies prior to funding and all students involved in research projects in courses submit paperwork for IRB review.  A new stand-alone, online information literacy course has been developed by the Director of Library and Learning Resources.  This course is also newly embedded into the Composition II courses required of all students. 

 

Evidence Cited

            1.  NSCS policies, Student Handbook, General Catalog, and syllabi

2.  General Studies Reason and Values and Global and Social Awareness requirements and additional courses

            3.  IRB policies and procedures at CSC

            4.  Copyright and Acceptable Use policies and Information literacy course

           

Discussion of 1st item of evidence - NSCS policies, Student Handbook, General Catalog, and syllabi

  • The NSCS Board Policy 4651 (RR119) details academic responsibility for faculty, which includes obligations for facilitating learning in an environment of respect, free inquiry and expression, without discrimination, and in an atmosphere of intellectual honesty in the academic community.  This policy is extended in Policy 5002 (RR120) and 5003 (RR121) which discuss conflict of interest for State College Employees.  Policy 5007 (RR122) details anti-harassment policies, which are also extended in the Faculty and Professional Staff handbooks (RR82).
  • Board Policy 5204 (RR123) provides for Professional Conduct Committees, to review complaints charging an employee with professional misconduct.  The committee provides for peer review of such complaints.   
  • The NSCS Board Policy 3100 (RR124) details student conduct and discipline and specifically includes “any act of academic dishonesty” as grounds for which a student is subject to disciplinary sanctions. 
  • Board Policy 3250 (RR125) outlines support for freedom of expression and the exchange of ideas in an environment of respect and dignity for all members of the academic community without infringement on the rights of others, although thought, behavior, and values may differ.
  • Student academic responsibility, including academic honesty and civility, is explicitly discussed on page 10 of the Student Handbook (RR126).  In addition, the handbook outlines the Code of Conduct (RR94), which includes specific references to any act of academic dishonesty or acts of discrimination or harassment.  Due process for students accused of violations of the Code of Conduct and the details of these procedures are also provided.
  • Student handbooks for certain academic programs, including Education (RR127) and Social Work (RR128), outline expectations for student behavior.  Ethical concerns are included in the Graduate Student Counseling Handbook, the Practicum Student Handbook, and the Counseling Internship Handbook.   
  • The CSC General Catalog or college bulletin includes sections for both undergraduate and graduate students on academic honesty and civility.  These sections appear on pages 28 and 223 of the new 2007-09 Catalog (RR57).
  • Faculty members include specific references to academic honesty and civility in their syllabi.  Generally these references include examples of academic dishonesty and plagiarism.  Many faculty members who include major writing assignments in their courses, use software to identify plagiarized material.  The consequences for this type of dishonesty are at the discretion of the faculty, but generally include automatic zeroes for the work or the course, and possible expulsion from the course.  Faculty report an alarming increase in plagiarism among students, and therefore this topic is regularly discussed in courses with significant writing assignments.     

 

Discussion of 2nd item of evidence - General Studies Reason and Values and Global and Social Awareness requirements and additional courses

  • All students complete required courses in the General Studies core curriculum in Reason and Values, and Global and Social Awareness.  The Reason and Value courses support the ethical application of knowledge, and the Global and Social Awareness courses link knowledge to social responsibility.  Many departments, including business, justice studies, psychology, social work, and education, require ethics courses that are in addition to the required courses in Reason and Values. (RR57)
  • Departments offer specific coursework, and topics within courses, in academic and professional integrity and standards of behavior.  For example, research courses within the sciences and applied sciences (agriculture, biology, chemistry, physics, and geoscience) include articulation of standards of conducting research within the discipline, mechanisms for ensuring appropriate use of the information, and expectations of professional discipline. Psychology, education, family and consumer sciences, justice studies, social sciences, social work, and courses that encourage cultural and generational discussions articulate disciplinary standards and expectations of professional behavior. 
  • Graduate programs include ethics and practice of human studies in Introduction to Graduate Studies, and Ethical and Legal Issues.  Students in the graduate Counseling program are provided with the ethical standards of the American Counseling Association in three courses:  Ethical and Legal issues, Practicum I Counseling I, and Practicum in Counseling II.  Students in School Counseling are provided with the ethical standards of the American School Counseling Association.  In addition, discussions and questions concerning ethical and legal issues are a very important essential part of all graduate counseling student final oral examinations. 

 

Discussion of 3rd item of evidence - IRB policies and procedures at CSC

  • As directed by the NSCS Board Policy 4320 (RR129), all course projects or research involving human or animal subjects are required to submit a formal application to the Institutional Review Board for review (forms, guidelines, and procedures are on the college website at http://www.csc.edu/vpaa/IRBdoc2005.pdf).
  • The applications are reviewed by the Vice President for Academic Affairs to determine if the study is exempt or in the expedited categories.  When full review is required, the application is submitted to the full Institutional Review Board of the college.

 

Discussion of 4th item of evidence – Copyright and Acceptable Use policies and Information literacy course

  • Computer Services notifies and makes available to all students and employees upon initial establishment of computer accounts copies of copyright policies and acceptable use policies with regard to computers http://myweb.csc.edu/compserv/policy/index.php
  • Copyright and intellectual property rights are also available at the library’s website. 
  • A new online one-credit course, Information Literacy, was designed by the Director of Library and Learning Resources, Mr. Milton Wolf, last spring. It was approved by Academic Review for offerings beginning in the fall 2006.  The English faculty members have worked closely with the Director to incorporate this course into the Composition II instruction, or it may be taken as a stand-alone class.  The course was developed to address the increase in plagiarism among students.  The one-hour module is taught by librarians who are also available to give presentations to seminars, capstone courses, and other courses that require substantial writing.  The library has also acquired RefWorks for use by students, faculty, and staff.  This software provides information about bibliographies, and automatically provides correct citation formatting for your documents.

  

Findings on Criterion Four

 Strengths

  1. The strategic plans and policies of the NSCS and Chadron State College clearly articulate the collective institutional value of and commitment to continual learning throughout one’s career and life.
  2. Extensive resources are devoted to support the professional development and scholarly activities of the college’s students, faculty, and staff.
  3. The college endorses a plan of study that promotes depth and proficiency in a single subject area as well as a breadth of knowledge crossing many academic disciplines through its extensive General Studies program and undergraduate and graduate capstone courses.
  4. The college promotes student growth and development through numerous opportunities for students to engage in creative and scholarly activities.
  5. The college involves students, alumni, employers, and other external constituents in evaluation of the currency and utility of its curricula and services.
  6. The college publishes its policies and procedures about the responsible use of knowledge.  A variety of undergraduate and graduate courses emphasize responsible use of knowledge. An Information Literacy course has been developed in response to a rise in plagiarism among students.    

 

Weaknesses

  1. The college needs to continue to use and to strengthen the input from external constituents in assessing the value of its curricula. Not all programs have external advisory boards. Not all programs have external adivsory boards.
  2. As faculty members have retired, the involvement in service-learning has diminished.
  3. No established analysis of Professional Activity Record to develop lists of creative and scholarly activities by employees.

 

Plan of Improvement

  1. During the spring 2007 workshops on assessment, emphasize methodology for accessing and using inputs from external constituents.
  2. Encourage academic programs to use external advisory boards and strengthen the membership on boards.
  3. Create service-learning workshops for new faculty to stimulate interest in pursuing these valuable experiences for their students.
  4. Develop a system to synthesize creative and scholarship activities by employees.