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Standard 4: Creating an Organization Committed to Learning and Improvement

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Standard 4: Creating an Organization Committed to Learning and Improvement

{The institution conducts sustained, evidence-based, and participatory discussions about how effectively it is accomplishing its purposes and achieving its educational objectives. These activities inform both institutional planning and systematic evaluations of educational effectiveness. The results of institutional inquiry, research, and data collection are used to establish priorities at different levels of the institution, and to revise institutional purposes, structures, and approaches to teaching, learning, and scholarly work.}

General Comments Regarding the Standard

The campus is committed to expanding its culture of evidence and using that evidence more comprehensively in evaluating and improving its programs. It conducts regular discussions of how effectively it is accomplishing its purposes and achieving its educational objectives in the weekly meetings of the Chancellor’s Leadership Council, composed of the Chancellor, Executive Vice Chancellor/Provost, Chair of the campus Academic Senate, deans, vice chancellors, Associate Vice Chancellor for External Relations, Campus Counsel, vice provosts, Assistant Provost, and Assistant Chancellor. These discussions lead to the establishment of criteria for the planning and budget process and resulting budget hearings in the spring, where each of the deans, vice chancellors, and vice provosts discusses his or her planned resource reallocations, outlines plans for improvement in the coming year, and presents requests for augmentation of resources. A special panel (composed of the Chancellor, the Executive Vice Chancellor/Provost, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Planning and Budget, the Chair of the campus Academic Senate, and the Chair of the campus Academic Senate Committee on Planning and Budget) conducts the hearings and makes the resource allocation decisions. Comprehensive budgetary and staffing analyses are prepared for each unit before the hearings, and the Office of Academic Planning and Budget follows up with each unit following budgetary and staffing decisions.

Institutional research efforts are coordinated and enhanced by the Institutional Research Coordinating Group, which works with the Department of Computing and Communications to develop and expand data distribution and analysis on the campus. It also reviews plans for and advises regarding campus surveys.

Evidence-based evaluations of individual graduate, professional, and undergraduate programs are conducted by the campus Academic Senate, with the assistance of external review teams and in consultation with the Graduate Dean (in the case of graduate program reviews) or the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (in the case of undergraduate program reviews). Occasional reviews of breadth (general education) requirements for campus undergraduates are also conducted; the most recent is being reviewed by Academic Senate committees this academic year. The campus Academic Senate also reviews new courses and programs and modifications in courses and programs; Senate approval must be obtained before the proposals may be implemented.


Specific Comments Regarding the Standard

The Chancellor, Executive Vice Chancellor/Provost, and each of the deans, vice chancellors, and other administrative offices engage in reflection and planning processes to assess the strategic position of their units; articulate priorities; examine the alignment of purposes, core functions, and resources; and define future direction for their units. They are also members of the Chancellor’s Leadership Council, the primary administrative group on the campus. [CFR 4.1]

In the fall the campus holds a two-day retreat for key administrators, chairs of major Academic Senate committees, and student leaders to review planning objectives for the coming year and to discuss longer-term planning strategies. The most recent such retreat was held September 25-26, 2007, with approximately 40 attendees; it focused on enrollment planning. [CFR 4.1]

There is significant discussion at the departmental level, and there is interdepartmental discussion and planning among unit heads. Discussion among general members of different departments and organizational units is accomplished through campus-wide summits and forums, which generate broad discussion and bring different perspectives to bear on specific topics. Examples in the last few years have been the summit on faculty diversity, the summit on staff and administrative diversity, the summit on undergraduate student diversity and excellence, the summit on graduate student diversity, the forum to discuss the special themes to include in the WASC Self-Study, and the forum to discuss the WASC standards and CFRs. [CFR 4.1]

For discussion of the Institutional Research Coordinating Group (IRCG), see the discussion of CFR 1.2, Pages 3-4. [CFRs 4.4 and 4.5]

Comprehensive quantitative data are collected and analyzed for each of the units on campus in connection with the annual planning and budget process reviews of staffing and other support levels of schools, colleges, vice chancellor, and vice provost units. Each unit receives the data analyses for its unit, and the entire set of analyses is shared with the Chair of the campus Academic Senate and the Chair of the campus Academic Senate Committee on Planning and Budget. [CFR 4.3]

Comprehensive data are also collected and analyzed for each of the programs undergoing undergraduate review or graduate and professional school review. Each external review team studies these data and may include discussion of them in its report on the program. The data and analyses are also reviewed by the campus Academic Senate Committee on Educational Policy and the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (in the case of undergraduate program reviews) or by the campus Academic Senate Graduate Council and the Graduate Dean (in the case of graduate and professional school reviews) in evaluating the external review reports and deciding on actions to take regarding the reports. [CFRs 4.3 and 4.5]


For discussion of UCR’s participation in the Collegiate Learning Assessment project, see the essay on Standard 1, CFR 1.2, Page 4. [CFR 4.4]

The campus efforts in evaluation of graduate and professional programs and undergraduate programs are discussed in the essay on Standard 1; see Pages 4-5, CFR 1.2. [CFR 4.4]

For policies on approval of new programs and courses and changes in existing courses and programs, see essay on Standard 2, CFRs 2.3 and 2.4, Page 12. [CFR 4.4]

The College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS) has conducted a thorough evaluation of its CHASS Connect program, which enrolled a group of freshmen students in a set of related breadth requirement courses. On the basis of that evaluation the College has revised the program and added two additional programs for College freshmen: Gateway Lecture and Freshman Learning Communities. All three programs are grouped as CHASS F1RST options. An evaluation has been conducted of HASS 01, a course for students on probation that focuses on university transition, study skills, time management, and other skills necessary to be successful and improve their grade point. Evaluations are also being conducted this year of the different Freshman Learning Communities programs on campus and the campus-wide Supplemental Instruction program. Results of these evaluations will be used to improve the programs. [CFR 4.4]

This fall the campus has contracted with EduVentures to conduct a collaborative study of learning outside the classroom. Service and leadership are the major foci of the study. The results should be helpful for the learning and assessment processes. [CFR 4.4]

Additional staff have been hired in different offices to strengthen the institutional research capability of the campus, including a Director of Policy Analysis is the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor/Provost, a Director of Institutional Research in the Office of Undergraduate Education, and an Institutional Analyst in the Division of Student Affairs. [CFR 4.5]

For discussion of the Faculty Instruction Evaluation Program, see the essay on Standard 2, CFR 2.4, Page 14. [CFRs 4.6 and 4.7]

UCR has many approaches to the improvement of teaching and learning, including undergraduate research opportunities, having the most up-to-date scholars inside the classrooms communicating their passion for their subjects, the Scholarship of Teaching seminar series (see below), grants to faculty for the improvement of instruction, and an increased commitment to teaching awards and increased focus on excellence in teaching. The campus administration has increased the monetary award for the yearly exemplary teaching prize. The administration has invested in a broad array of instructional technologies, has made a commitment to modern, best of breed classroom technologies, and is creating learning spaces where faculty may explore the intersection of innovative pedagogy, flexible physical appointments, and technology facilitating student


engagement. For discussion of the assessment of these instructional technology programs by a team of outside experts, see the essay on Standard 2, Page 11. [CFR 4.7]

In addition to investing in instructional technologies, the administration has invested in organizational structures to promote improved pedagogy (e.g., the Academy of Distinguished Teachers, the Center for Instructional Innovation, and the Scholarship of Teaching seminar series). [CFR 4.7]
The campus has organized an on-line set of teaching resources, iTeach, which serves as a clearinghouse for information and campus resources on topics such as instructional tools, techniques, funding opportunities, new initiatives, seminars, and services. The content of the site includes interactive forums, as well as archived video and audio files of teaching related seminars or panel discussions. [CFR 4.7]
The Scholarship of Teaching program is a series of seminars, panel discussions, and workshops that highlight and promote the use of contemporary pedagogical concepts to enhance teaching excellence. Presentations highlight [CFR 4.7]:

    • Effective use of current and emerging instructional methodologies and technologies;

    • Strategies for the introduction of active learning, peer to peer learning, and collaborative approaches in teaching;

    • Pedagogical approaches to enhance student engagement and optimize student learning outcomes;

    • Effective approaches to teaching and learning in and outside of the classroom;

    • Successful and innovative practices that engage students in a critical analysis of course material, or which promote their involvement in research or scholarly activity;

    • Engagement of a teaching community in the collaborative, scholarly examination of their practice as teachers;

    • Development of assessment tools to measure student learning outcomes; and

    • Development of a campus culture of evidence regarding our academic programs.

The Career Center surveys its stakeholders via a number of instruments. Each year there is a survey of all alumni six months after graduation; the survey includes questions about their academic experience in addition to questions about their careers. Also, students are surveyed two weeks before graduation to gather feedback on their experience with the Career Center and their post-graduation plans. Feedback from employers is collected regarding student quality in internships, as well as information on students interviewed for jobs or internships on campus and at career fairs. [CFR 4.8]


Opportunities for Further Improvement:

Not all academic departments address the issues of student preparedness for courses, student expectations, learning objectives and outcomes, and similar issues. Those departments that are participating in graduate and professional program reviews and/or undergraduate program reviews should be addressing such issues regarding their students. Those departments that do assess their students’ needs, expectations, and learning outcomes and make effective changes in response to that assessment should share their results with the rest of the campus to provide other departments with models for accomplishing the same. [CFR 4.1]

Units need to be provided with assistance in the assessment process – how to define objectives so they may be tested, how to collect assessment data, how to evaluate the data collected, and methods of incorporating results into program implementation decisions. Logistical assistance with the process could also increase participation by departments. [CFR 4.1]

Evaluation models need to be more broadly discussed on campus: use of capstone courses, collecting writing samples from students during the course of their education and comparing them over time, expanding writing across the curriculum, broader tracking of alumni, use of ePortfolios to document learning outside of specific courses or disciplines, etc. [CFR 4.1]

Good examples of assessment on campus should be broadly publicized: the use of pre-tests and post-test in Physics, capstone course in the undergraduate business major, senior projects in Art, Sociology Department Honors Thesis in the senior year, student presentations at undergraduate research symposia and conferences, and placement record of students graduating in specific majors. [CFR 4.1]

There are significant service learning opportunities for students. They need to be better publicized or coordinated. Service learning is most effective when combined with or coordinated with the academic program. [CFR 4.6]


UC Riverside’s Response to the Recommendations of the Report of the last WASC Team Visit to the campus

The report of the last WASC Team visit to the campus contained 11 specific recommendations. The WASC Commission, in its letter of July 6, 1998, to the campus, endorsed the Team recommendations and highlighted three areas warranting special attention. Those areas are discussed below. For a full response to the recommendations of the WASC Team, please see Appendix II.

1) Alignment of planning objectives and fiscal constraints: The Commission was concerned about planned growth of the University without the firm assurances of commensurate financial resources. It urged the University to manage its resources such that anticipated enrollment increases will not adversely impact the high quality of education and student life on campus and monitor closely the impact of enrollment increases on academic programs, student life and financial responsibilities.

Response to 1): The campus has received financial resources commensurate with growth in enrollment, has allocated new faculty positions in appropriate response to enrollment increases, and has established a minimum pool of unallocated faculty provisions to provide flexibility in dealing with cost of hiring new senior faculty and meeting setup costs of new faculty, especially in the sciences and engineering. However, the campus continues to deal with the challenges of the recent and rapid growth in undergraduate enrollment. Some academic programs have fewer faculty than workload considerations would suggest. The senior administration has consulted extensively with the Academic Senate, the deans, and the vice chancellors in the allocation of resources and has held annual budget hearings that lead to the detailed allocation of resources each year.

2) Assessment and Curriculum and the Quality of Instruction: The Commission urged UCR to sustain its academic excellence as well as its active student participation in research and encouraged the University to seize this time as an opportunity to identify what it expects students to learn, to evaluate its effectiveness in meeting those expectations, and to effectively integrate its findings into future planning.

Response to 2): The campus has strengthened existing academic programs, developed new programs, and strongly supported undergraduate research. It has maintained its comprehensive review of graduate and professional programs and has implemented a comparable program of review of undergraduate programs. But more work is needed.

3) Faculty Development: The Commission encouraged the University to retain a high-quality faculty by improving its research facilities to promote and nurture a high quality of education and research.

Response to 3): The campus has renovated existing research facilities, constructed new facilities, and developed new research centers and groups, including the areas of nanotechnology, genomics, and bioengineering. It has greatly increased the level of its extramural contract and grant funding and its private fundraising.

Institutional Capacity Dimensions of UCR’s Special Themes

The campus hired graduate students to conduct literature reviews of its three special themes, under the faculty direction. The literature reviews identified research and studies dealing with each theme and suggested specific approaches to consider in addressing each theme. The results were presented at a campus forum on February 14, 2007.

The institutional capacity dimensions of each of the campus Special Themes are discussed below. A brief summary of accomplishments to date is also included.

Learning within a Campus Culture of Diversity

The UC Riverside campus community has engaged in campus-wide dialogue and action around diversity by hosting a series of summits. These summits were designed to engage the entire UCR campus and external communities in identifying issues and challenges and proposing solutions to those challenges. The campus has hosted summits on faculty diversity; diversity of staff, managers and administrators; diversity and undergraduate student success; and increasing diversity among UCR’s graduate students. These summits were designed to be interactive and to facilitate maximum input from and feedback to the entire campus community. The purpose of these summits is to create a campus-wide understanding of the dimensions of diversity and the role of all UC Riverside’s citizens in moving forward the agenda for inclusion.

The Office of Undergraduate Education hosted a series of events to promote a deeper understanding of diversity and excellence. For example, in the summer of 2007 the Office supported a team of 5 people to attend a summer institute sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities in Burlington, Vermont, where the team spent four days developing a proposal for going beyond “body count diversity.” When the group returned to campus, they involved a larger number of faculty as they continued to explore the deeper meaning of diversity, the links between diversity and student performance/success, and the “added value” of attending a university with a vastly diverse student body. Their discussions have expanded to involve a larger number of campus faculty, and work continues to progress. And finally, the Office of Undergraduate Education’s Scholarship of Teaching series for 2007-08 is addressing the notion of “Critical Diversity” as one approach to utilizing our existing diversity to better understand student success.

The campus approach to ensuring the success of its diverse undergraduate student population has received national attention recently. The University was featured in articles in The Los Angeles Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education, which highlighted the campuses’ success in promoting both diversity and excellence.

The campus has collected and analyzed data on the different dimensions of diversity among its undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty and staff. It has plans for further collection and analysis of such data through the work of the Institutional Research Coordinating Group.

Growing and Improving Graduate and Professional Programs

The focus of the Chancellor’s fall 2007 campus planning retreat was on enrollment management. Undergraduate enrollment is projected to grow slowly, but significant effort will be devoted to growth of graduate and professional school programs and enrollments. Currently, a total of 18 new masters and/or doctoral programs are in different stages of planning and development. In addition to the professional school plans discussed below, the campus is exploring expanding enrollment in its MBA program and possibly developing a school of communications or a school of nursing.

The major campus effort in the area of growing professional programs is the development of a full medical school on the campus. For more than 25 years, UCR has offered the first two years of medical school education for 24 students per year in cooperation with the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, where the students complete their M.D. degrees. In November 2006 The Regents authorized the campus to hire a Dean of Medicine and prepare a more comprehensive plan for a full school of medicine, including residencies, research and clinical programs, and other aspects of medical education. The campus has contracted with the firm of Deloitte Consulting LLP to help prepare its comprehensive plan for the medical school, which will be reviewed on campus and in the Office of the President before it is presented to The Regents, hopefully before the end of the 2007-08 academic year. The faculty have developed an innovative curriculum for its medical students, which integrates clinical experience into all four years of medical school instruction. The campus will not own a hospital, but will establish agreements with existing hospitals in the area to implement its medical education and research objectives.

The campus is also in the process of establishing a professional School of Public Policy, which will offer a Masters of Public Policy (MPP) degree, a doctoral (Ph.D.) degree, and a doctoral degree in cooperation with a number of existing departments and programs on campus. The School will serve as the institutional framework to facilitate UCR’s scholars in better exploring the policy implications of their research, as well as analyzing the effects of existing policies on households, communities and society at large. It will focus on two major themes: the intersection of social and environmental policies and the importance of regional policy. At maturity the School will have 150 MPP students and 30 doctoral students. The proposal has been approved by the campus Academic Senate and has been forwarded to the system-wide Academic Senate for its review. When approved, the School will start recruiting its dean and initial faculty so as to enroll its first students approximately four years later.

The campus is reaching out to the residents of the Palm Desert area through the establishment of a Palm Desert Graduate Center. The two programs offered at the Palm Desert Graduate Center are the MFA in Creative Writing/Writing for the Performing Arts and the Master of Business Administration. Similar programs are also offered on the main campus.


A key element in the growth of graduate programs is increasing the number of ladder rank faculty, since they direct graduate students, particularly at the doctoral level. The campus hired 107 ladder faculty over the last two years and is conducting a large number of searches for new ladder rank faculty members during the 2007-08 academic year.

Improving Undergraduate Student Engagement, Experience, and Learning Outcomes

The campus is establishing and measuring learning objectives through the process of reviewing graduate, professional, and undergraduate programs. To assist in the process, special grant funds are being made available by the Office of Undergraduate Education to departments before and/or after the review process, to fund planning retreats to establish or clarify learning objectives, plan for their assessment, and implement changes resulting from previous assessments. The funds can also be used to bring assessment experts to the department to discuss assessment in greater detail. The Office of Undergraduate Education awards these grants to encourage departments to become more comprehensively involved in student learning outcome assessment and its analysis.

In 2005, the campus became particularly concerned about the dissatisfaction of some undergraduates with their learning experience, the percentage of first-year undergraduates in academic difficulty or subject to dismissal, the lack of persistence of freshmen to sophomore status, and a 6-year graduation rate of entering freshmen that was relatively low for a UC campus. As a result, the Executive Vice Chancellor/Provost (EVC/P) appointed the Student Success Task Force (SSTF) in October 2005, charged with providing recommendations on improving undergraduate retention, academic success, and the overall undergraduate experience at UCR, especially through the support students receive outside the classroom. The charge was clearly aligned with the Chancellor’s goals “to enhance UCR’s reputational rankings” and “to expand opportunities for learning and personal growth for all students, undergraduate and graduate.”
The SSTF included representation from the Academic Senate, the offices of the EVC/P and the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, the colleges, Computing and Communications, University Libraries, and Student Affairs. Four subcommittees were created to explore the key factors identified by a careful review of available evidence: (1) Freshman Experience, (2) Academic Advising, (3) Student Surveys, and (4) University Investments in Support of Teaching and Learning. The SSTF spent the academic year carefully considering the findings of the subcommittees in light of institutional and comparative data presented by Student Affairs, Undergraduate Education, Academic Planning and Budget, and other academic institutions.
In October 2006, the SSTF published its 42 recommendations, which were wholeheartedly endorsed by the EVC/P and became the blueprint for the campus’ plan to “significantly increase a variety of measures of student success.” In December 2006, the EVC/P appointed a Student Success Steering Committee (SSSC) and charged its members to ensure the timely implementation of the SSTF recommendations. The SSSC established sub-committees which enlisted key stakeholders to plan and oversee the


implementation of the recommendations. Student success became a topic of discussion campus-wide; staffing, program, and funding decisions made in the colleges and Student Affairs prioritized SSTF recommendations.

Many of the recommendations have been implemented or are being implemented and are discussed in the essays addressing the WASC Standards earlier in this report. Substantial funds have been invested in augmenting programs in the colleges, Student Affairs units and the Office of Undergraduate Education. In the fall of 2006, First Year Learning Communities were established and/or expanded in each of the three colleges, enrolling 33% of new freshmen; for the fall of 2007, capacity was increased to accommodate up to two-thirds of the new incoming freshmen. Each college designated or hired a First Year Coordinator, as did the offices of Undergraduate Education, Student Life, and Housing. First year website and marketing materials were developed and distributed.
The Learning Center was transferred from Student Affairs to Undergraduate Education to ensure that its programs would be integrated more completely with academic departments, and a reorganizing process in the unit is progressing. Programs that intentionally identify, intervene, and support students at risk or in academic difficulty, such as Supplemental Instruction, Early Assessment, Study Skills Courses, RCC/UCR Math Initiative, and Summer Bridge, are being developed, refined, remodeled and/or increased. Within the last year Student Life introduced the Freshman Success Workshop Series, a commuter program, and an extensive revamp of campus identity, vitality and activity.
The UC Office of the President has approved a Professional Academic Advisor job series, and recruitment is underway for new advisors in each of the colleges. An advising information system was implemented for staff and faculty involved in academic advising.
In the spring of 2006, the Academic Senate approved updated procedures and a calendar for Undergraduate Program Reviews; the first round of reviews was completed in spring 2007. Stronger language regarding the enunciation of student learning outcomes and assessment was added to the instructions for the 2007/08 reviews.
Examples of the further investment in teaching and learning are expansion of the Scholarship of Teaching series, planned establishment of a Center for Innovative Instruction, and creation of flex classrooms that are being successfully used. Various assessment efforts are underway and will be used to inform program development and improvement. The newly established Institutional Research Coordinating Group (IRCG) developed a process by which proposed campus student surveys are reviewed before their administration; IRCG ensures that the results are distributed for the good of the campus.
The SSTF focused in part on the freshman year experience as a first step in the process of comprehensive assessment of student learning and development of better approaches to assisting students in their achievement of learning objectives. The results of this focus will influence assessment of learning for other specific groups of students and the subsequent development of better approaches to assisting them.

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