The University offers educational programs appropriate to an institution
of higher education
The University of Northern Iowa asserts that it offers
programs (courses of study) appropriate to an institution of higher education.
Evidence to support this assertion is offered within four indicators in
this section: (1) academic programs are clearly defined, coherent, and
intellectually rigorous; (2) courses are included in academic programs
that stimulate the awareness and understanding of personal, social, and
civic values; (3) faculty and students engage in research as a scholarly
activity that is part of the institution's academic programs; and (4)
the University promotes active intellectual engagement among faculty and
A1: Courses of study in the academic programs are clearly defined, coherent,
and intellectually rigorous
excellence of our academic programs' content, structure, integrity, and
presentation is fundamental to our vision of becoming "the nation's finest
public comprehensive university, known for high-quality learning environments
and a genuine sense of community" (2001-2006 Strategic Plan). We welcome
the opportunity to examine our progress through this self-study so that
we may more effectively achieve our strategic goals and objectives.
Are academic programs
of the University of Northern Iowa clearly defined, coherent, and intellectually
rigorous? Catalog descriptions clearly define our courses of study. Course
descriptions and plans of study are available in hard copy and on line
Our courses of
study are coherent; in every major the required and elective courses are
related to one another. In most cases, students entering a program begin
study by enrolling in an introductory course, which sets the foundation
for future courses.
ensure program quality and continuous improvement. Departmental, college,
and University curricular committees evaluate all programs prior to their
approval by the Board of Regents. The quality of our programs is further
scrutinized through internal and external components of academic program
reviews, which are carried out on a seven-year staggered schedule. Program
reviews, including student outcomes assessments, are used for continuous
improvement and are addressed in detail in section III B, below.
Colleges and departments
at UNI have programs that are accredited by national accreditation agencies
and/or are periodically reviewed by outside agencies. The University is
a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities
(AASCU), the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE),
and the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States. The University
is accredited through the master's degrees, the specialist's degrees,
and the doctorate by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary
Schools (NCA). Particular programs of the University are accredited by
the following professional accrediting agencies: the International Association
for Management Education, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling
and Related Educational Programs, the National Association of Schools
of Music, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the Council
on Social Work Education, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association,
the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, the American
Dietetic Association, the National Association of Industrial Technology,
the American Council for Construction Education, the Council for Accreditation
of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, and the National Recreation
and Park Association/American Association for Leisure and Recreation.
Programs are also approved by the Iowa State Department of Education,
the National University Extension Association, and the American Chemical
Society. The University Museum is accredited by the American Association
have curricula that are based on national standards. The Computer Science
Department, for example, follows the curriculum guidelines of the Association
for Computer Machinery in the development and delivery of its programs.
confirmation of intellectually rigorous program standards and outcomes
is also provided by outside agencies that rank programs for comparison
on a national basis. Such is the case for the clinical programs in the
Department of Communicative Disorders. The program in Speech-Language
Pathology is ranked fourteenth in the nation for terminal M.A. programs,
according to the most recent rankings by U.S. News and World Report. Audiology
ranks twenty-sixth in the country compared to graduate programs in which
the master's is the highest degree offered.
It is central to
our mission that courses comprising our programs of study are established,
implemented, and evaluated in a manner that ensures that they are intellectually
rigorous. Excellence in this area remains a top priority, as demonstrated
in the University's 2001-2006 Strategic Plan, Goal 2.0, which is to
"support creative and intellectually rigorous teaching and scholarship."
A2: Programs include courses and/or activities whose purpose is to stimulate
the examination and understanding of personal, social, and civic values
Our role in developing the best-prepared,
civic-minded workforce in the nation has been integrated into our mission
at every level. The concepts of service, diversity, mutual respect, personal
well-being, and organizational effectiveness are addressed throughout
the University's 2001-2006 Strategic Plan. To those ends, UNI's 47-credit
General Education Program has as a major objective the awareness and understanding
of individual, social, and civic values. All students earning a UNI degree
must complete the General Education program or must have completed general
education programs at other institutions of higher education.
Nine credit hours
of the General Education courses required of undergraduate degree candidates
are social science courses, including required credits in Sociocultural
and Historical Perspectives and in Individual and Institutional Perspectives.
Three credits may be taken in Topical Perspectives, including courses
such as "Social Welfare: A World View," "American Racial and Ethnic Minorities,"
"Women, Men, and Society," "Conflict and Social Reconstruction," "The
Nature of Social Issues," "Children and Youth: Issues and Controversies,"
"Contemporary Political Problems," and "Social Problems." All of these
courses are designed to bring into focus the interdisciplinary interrelatedness
of personal, social, and civic issues.
credit hours of the General Education program focus on Civilizations and
Cultures. Two four-credit courses in Humanities address Western cultures,
and three credits are devoted to non-Western cultures. "Using methods
of critical inquiry, students explore aspects of human nature, the shaping
of thoughts and values, and their interrelations" (UNI Catalog, p. 49).
A capstone course
titled "Environment, Technology and Society," required of all students,
develops an environmental literacy and examines biological, technological,
and environmental values. This course is intentionally interdisciplinary
and is taught by faculty with a variety of backgrounds and from many disciplines.
stimulate the development of a science ethic and examine issues such as
bioethics and environmental impact, the role of computers in society,
connections between human activity and the planetary environment, industrial/technological
issues of safety and ethics, the role of mathematical techniques in society,
and the impact of physical and chemical principles in a technology-based
Additional examples of courses that stimulate students' examination of
personal, social, and civic values can be found throughout the University
in Management, Finance, Psychology, Communication Studies, Philosophy
and Religion, History, Humanities, and Geography. One component of a course
taught in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology is
the construction of a house for a human service organization, Habitat
for Humanity. This experience helps students learn first-hand about low-income
housing and neighborhoods. Other internships, such as those in Design,
Family, and Consumer Sciences, Political Science, Social Work, History,
Public Administration, and Political Communication directly involve students
in community work related to their academic studies.
UNI college mission statements make specific reference to the preparation
of students as productive citizens in a complex, global society. Accrediting
agencies often reinforce these goals. The International Association for
Management Education, for example, calls for the investigation and understanding
of global, ethical, and social values, especially as they impact organizations.
Experiential learning opportunities offered through the Cooperative Education
Program expose students on a University-wide basis to myriad real world
situations. The Center for Energy and Environmental Education, an outreach
center that assists students in developing an environmental ethic, offers
programs designed to address issues regarding the societal impact of science
and technology. Off-campus research programs in the sciences, of which
the Recycling Reuse Technology Transfer Center and the Materials Testing
Service are representative, are effective in this area of student involvement.
Teacher education preparation involves the examination of personal, social,
and civic values. Perhaps the clearest evidence of this is contained within
examples of student portfolios (see http://www.uni.edu/coe/portfolio).
A course required of all teaching majors, Schools in American Society,
examines social and civic issues in education. Field experiences also
provide opportunities for students to participate in community activities,
thereby enhancing, enriching, and extending their personal, social, and
Field trips and presentations at
national and regional conferences are compelling examples of how students
broaden their awareness. Visits by our political science students to Russia
and trips by our history students to Greece enrich the student experience
and foster a sense of global citizenship. An interdisciplinary project
involving students in education and social work led students to Romania
last spring to assist in addressing the country's orphan problem through
an innovative program developed at UNI.
Student organizations, such as History Club or Political Science Society,
often promote an examination of values by enhancing student interest and
by demonstrating the many opportunities that a professional field has
to offer. In some cases, this examination of values is being combined
with technological enterprise. The Department of History is developing
a local web site, Black Hawk County: Past and Present, which will engage
the community with a vast amount of historical information about our county
Initiatives in Educational and Student Services also offer students other
excellent outlets for applying their social and civic values. Long-established
and traditionally effective programs include student organizations and
fraternal/sororal societies sponsored by Maucker Union and the Center
for Multicultural Education, and concerned support by academic advisors
and counselors on campus. A more recent innovation is the Citizens and
Scholars initiative in the residence halls. In general, residence hall
personnel deal intentionally with issues of living in community and the
need to understand and value diversity in all facets.
Ultimately, all majors, the vast majority of courses, and many clubs,
organizations, and programs demonstrate a degree of purpose toward preparing
students for an examination and understanding of their personal value
structures in relation to those of society. This understanding is recognized
by the University as an increasingly essential component, along with knowledge
and skills, in becoming a productive member of civic society in the 21st
Century. It is also a key factor in the long-term well-being of the institution,
as acknowledged in the 2001-2006 Strategic Plan, Goal 4.0: Strengthen
a University culture characterized by diversity, collegiality, and mutual
Indicator A3: Programs require of the
faculty and students (as appropriate to the level of the educational programs)
the use of scholarship and/or the participation in research as part of
Faculty scholarship is an essential
part of the tripartite mission of the University, which specifies the
commitment to teaching, research, and service. The use of scholarship
and the participation in research by faculty and students is therefore
integral to the University's effort to create and maintain a high-quality,
dynamic learning environment characterized by excellence at all levels.
As stipulated in the Master Agreement, in evaluating faculty performance
for the awarding of tenure, the first judgment is whether the faculty
member's teaching meets quality standards. If there is an affirmative
judgment about the faculty member's teaching, then research and service
are considered. Tenure is not granted unless there is sufficient evidence
of the faculty member's contributions to research and the scholarly community
beyond the University. Likewise, research is considered in merit salary
increases, faculty professional development leaves, summer grants, and
other programs of faculty support throughout the University. Many faculty
at UNI have research programs consistent with our mission as a comprehensive
Academic programs at UNI have either a research requirement or a research
component for students at the undergraduate level. Significant portions
of the undergraduate programs involve direct research by individual students,
case analyses, team projects, and presentations. Each major contains courses
with significant research and writing requirements. All graduate programs
require students to complete research projects that result in written
documents, whether a research paper, thesis, or dissertation. The MBA
program, for example, requires student research in each course, and the
capstone project is entirely research based.
There are several kinds of courses that require student participation
in research, including most research methods courses. For example, students
who take Qualitative Research Methods in the Department of Sociology,
Anthropology, and Criminology are required to do four short research projects
in order to satisfy the requirements of the course. Some degree programs
require senior research projects.
The Undergraduate Research Program (URP) provides funding each semester
for faculty/student collaborative research, a significant amount of which
finds its way to conferences and publication. Undergraduate and graduate
assistantships are extremely important training grounds for the teaching
and performance of research. The Center for Social and Behavioral Research
and the Center for the Study of Adolescence mentor students through 12
paid positions as undergraduate research assistants. These centers also
house a number of graduate assistants.
Each college supports undergraduate research through funds set aside specifically
for experiential learning and undergraduate research. The Undergraduate
Social Science Research Conference and the Sigma Xi Student Research Conference
are annual events during which students present papers and delineate their
original research. Summer Undergraduate Research Programs, such as those
in Chemistry and Biology provide students with a stipend and research
credit. The latter exemplify UNI's commitment to student research activities
in that they have become part of the budget of the College of Natural
Sciences, rather than being dependent on external grant monies.
In summary, the post-graduate success of our students is, to a great extent,
the result of excellent programs of study consistently delivered by faculty
immersed in solid scholarship with first-rate teaching techniques. These
qualities are extensions of our core values and are central to a well-defined
service orientation toward the constituencies we serve. Continued support
for the role of research and scholarship in the academic lives of faculty
and students is expressed in the 2001-2006 Strategic Plan, specifically
faculty scholarship in Objective 2.2: generate
increased opportunities for faculty to enhance the quality and quantity
of their research and creative activity.
Indicator A4: Programs require intellectual
interaction betweenstudents and faculty and encourage it between student
All graduate and undergraduate programs require intellectual interaction
between faculty and students. The University prides itself on the quality
of that interaction because tenure-track professors preside over the majority
of its classes. Course syllabi provided by those professors specify in
detail the importance of discussion and in-class debate for achieving
the learning goals of the course. In some courses, in-class projects further
encourage and promote intellectual exchange between students and faculty,
and among students. Team teaching, as in the General Education "cluster
course" taught by four Humanities and Fine Arts faculty, provides another
example of intellectual engagement and synergy.
All departments require that faculty keep regular, listed office hours
for their students. This ensures the opportunity for interaction in relation
to course matters as well as to academic advising, research mentoring,
and general personal interaction. Quite beyond meeting departmental requirements
for availability, many faculty members have an open-door policy so that
students may engage them in intellectual conversations at any reasonable
time. Additionally, faculty are available through email, and email distribution
lists are automatically produced for each class at the beginning of the
Students and faculty also engage in intellectual interaction when they
convene for academic advising. Academic advising is provided by both Academic
Affairs and Educational and Student Services Division personnel and is
viewed at UNI as an educational and developmental service. Students who
are undecided as to major are advised by professional advisors in the
ESS Division, coordinated by Academic Advising Services. Some deciding
freshman students are assigned by Academic Advising Services to a hall
coordinator for freshman-year advisement. Students who have decided to
undertake work toward certain majors in the College of Education or any
major in the College of Business Administration are advised by a professional
advisor in that college. (These two colleges have advising centers that
also provide enrollment management in their colleges.) Students in other
majors are advised by professional advisors in their academic department
(in the departments of Biology and Communication Studies) or program (Social
Science Teaching), or by a faculty member in the discipline. Some departments
(Department of English, School of Music, School of Health, Physical Education
and Leisure Services) provide release time to faculty who coordinate academic
advising in their departments.
In the past decade the University expanded staffs in the college advising
centers and Academic Advising Services and centralized some departmental
advising, as described above, in order to provide easily accessible and
effective advising services to students. The advising of student athletes
has been merged with our general advising services since 1997.
The office of Academic Advising Services continues to support campus advising
by training and coordinating faculty and professional advisors for summer
first-year orientation sessions and by hosting the Academic Advising Council,
composed of representatives from across colleges and programs who meet
six times a year. Since 1996, Academic Advising Services has provided
training for new faculty advisors in the three liberal arts colleges.
In addition, Academic Advising Services conducts and coordinates for faculty
and professional advisors topical workshops appropriate to current issues.
Such issues have included new advising tools and electronic advising forms.
Evaluation of advising on campus during this past decade included analysis
of responses on the Graduating Student Survey conducted at every graduation,
the Climate Survey administered at advanced registration, the CSEQ administered
in Spring 1999 and Spring 2000, and the Retention Survey administered
in May 1996. Assessments are also conducted in Academic Advising Services
every few years.
In the past three years, the Student Climate Survey has indicated the
level of satisfaction with academic advising at the University (see Table
III.1). Over half of the students agree or strongly agree that they have
received high-quality advising at UNI.
Table III.1: Student Climate Survey
Question: I have received high quality advising at UNI
It is not clear from these evaluations whether a centralized advising
center or decentralized faculty advising in the colleges promotes better
decisions and greater student satisfaction. Unless further assessment
indicates that change is necessary, the current dual system of campus
advising should be retained.
Programs and Projects
Besides these many opportunities for academic advising, academic programs
encourage intellectual interaction among faculty and students by means
of peer tutoring projects, experiential and field-based educational experiences,
case projects, and group projects. The teacher education program, for
example, is centered on the development of reflective practitioners, and,
as evidenced by course outlines, class formats make discussion, in-class
debate, and intellectual interaction among students and faculty an essential
part of most courses. Student teaching and practica are other venues for
intellectual interaction between students and faculty in a non-university
General Education Courses
General Education Program classes often encourage small-group discussions
among students and instructors. Interdisciplinary programs that offer
General Education courses such as "Conflict and Social Reconstruction,"
"The Nature of Social Issues," and "Children and Youth: Issues and Controversies"
bring together students and faculty from several departments and provide
a stimulus for interaction and critical thinking.
Conferences and Seminars
The Center for the Study of Adolescence is exemplary in its facilitation
of organized student participation in scholarly conferences. Seminar programs
across departments invite outside guests, local faculty and/or students
to report on their research interests and results. These programs enhance
intellectual interaction among faculty and students at all levels. Some
majors -- Geography is one example -- require a senior seminar for all
Clubs and Societies
Most departments have student clubs (e.g., American Chemical Society Student
Affiliates, UNI History Club, Psychology Club) and honorary academic societies
(e.g., Kappa Mu Epsilon, Sigma Pi Sigma, Beta Beta Beta) that bring students
and faculty together for discussion of scholarly interests and generally
demand excellence in the research and creative activities of its members.
As outcomes assessment and other data point to the increased importance
of experiential learning, supportive academic environments and increased
responsibility for students' own learning, the University has integrated
into its 2001-2006 Strategic Plan the commitment to
enhance opportunities for mentoring and social interaction among students,
faculty and staff (Objective 5.3).