The University assesses appropriate student academic achievement in all
Since the last NCA accreditation in 1991, the University
of Northern Iowa has made great progress in implementing assessment processes.
This progress is grounded in an ongoing commitment to institutional improvement,
the foundation of which is excellence in teaching and well-organized feedback
mechanisms that provide faculty with information for program improvement.
We learn a great deal from our students about our institution and its
programs through assessment processes and anticipate continuing to monitor
and improve them in the coming years.
Following a detailed overview of student outcomes assessment
practices at UNI, four indicators are discussed: (1) the University strives
to prepare students with knowledge, skills, and values essential for all
college-educated persons; (2) all undergraduate students are expected
to complete an identifiable and coherent general education component;
(3) student mastery of knowledge and skills is appropriate to the degree
awarded; and, (4) UNI faculty control the evaluation of student learning
and the awarding of academic credit.
Overview of Student Outcomes Assessment Student outcomes assessment is
now an integral part of Academic Program Review, the results of which
are used to guide program improvement. Outcomes assessment is conducted
and utilized by each academic program on a yearly basis, with summaries
of assessment data and subsequent program changes reported as part of
the Academic Program Review process to the Board of Regents. Some examples
of program changes resulting from recent program review and outcomes assessment
processes are described here:
1.The Department of Earth Science has revised its
Environmental Emphasis in the Geology major to include field study courses
in various areas of earth science that better serve student interests
and needs (Annual Report on Academic Program Review, March, 1999).
2.The program review and outcomes assessment processes
conducted in the Department of Social Work helped support the rationale
for establishing a new Masters in Social Work (MSW) program. The program
proposal for an MSW was approved by the University and the Board of Regents
in 1999 and is now in place (Annual Report on Academic Program Review,
3.As a result of its outcomes assessment and program
review processes, the Master's in Business Administration (MBA) program
developed a new modular scheduling protocol to better fit the needs of
its students, 90% of whom are professionals who live within a 60-mile
radius of Cedar Falls. The curriculum was also revised to provide more
emphasis on communication and presentation skills and increased emphasis
on leadership and group-process skills (Annual Report on Academic Program
Review, March, 1999).
4.Program review and outcomes assessment processes
in the Finance program indicated a need for restructuring of the introductory
finance course. Consulting with the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching,
the department utilized an ad hoc committee to study the course and implement
changes (Annual Report on Academic Program Review, March, 2000).
5.For the School Library Media Studies program,
a final program portfolio has replaced the requirement of a comprehensive
exam. Pre-portfolio sessions clarify for students the expected outcomes,
while the faculty now continuously revise rubrics and other assessment
instruments (Annual Report on Academic Program Review, March, 2000).
6.As a result of program review and outcomes assessment
processes, the B.A. and M.A. degrees in Science have been dropped from
the curriculum (Annual Report on Academic Program Review, March, 2000).
In 1989, UNI began to organize its outcomes assessment efforts on an institution-wide
basis with the formation of an Assessment Committee consisting of faculty
representatives from each of the Colleges, as well as representatives
from Educational and Student Services, Alumni Relations, and Institutional
Research. As the Assessment Committee began the process of developing
institutional policies and practices to guide assessment activities, a
1990 Board of Regents mandate for student outcomes assessment at the Regent
institutions (which was based on the statement of principles on student
outcomes assessment developed by the National Association of State Universities
and Land Grant Colleges) gave further stimulus to this effort.
Beginning in 1991, the Board required the presentation of an annual report
on Student Outcomes Assessment (SOA), with the intent that this effort
result in meaningful improvement in student learning. In May 1997, at
the recommendation of an external consulting service, the Pappas Group,
the Board adopted a recommendation to merge Student Outcomes Assessment
with the yearly Academic Program Review report.
Through these several years of the definition and development of our assessment
programs, faculty members and administrators have been regular participants
in the Association of American Colleges and Universities annual assessment
conferences. Participation in these conferences has allowed members of
the University community to develop expertise in outcomes assessment and
bring that expertise home to share with colleagues and apply as programs
have been developed and implemented. Assessment Committee members have
also participated in other assessment-related professional development
opportunities and continue to serve on related committees, including those
that address the institution's strategic plan, the General Education Committee,
and various curriculum committees.
UNI submitted an assessment plan to the NCA in 1995 in response to the
NCA's mandate that all accredited institutions formulate viable assessment
plans. NCA Consultant-Evaluators reviewed UNI's assessment plan and concluded
at that time that the plan met the Commission's expectations. In their
review, Consultant-Evaluators observed, "UNI is to be commended for linking
outcomes assessment with program review and strategic planning and for
recognizing that judgments regarding the quality of academic programs
provide important information as a basis for strategic planning activities."
They further observed that "the institution wisely makes explicit the
need for involving students in the process in such a way as to allow them
to see the value of assessment and motivate them to participate sincerely"
(NCA letter, February 26, 1996).
Rationale for Student Outcomes Assessment at UNI
Student outcomes assessment (SOA) practices at UNI are guided by the "Student
Outcomes Assessment Policy" developed by the Assessment Committee, approved
by the Faculty Senate and the Provost, and implemented in 1991. The SOA
Policy defined the policies and practices for the implementation and administration
of student outcomes assessment activities. This report also provided specific
guidelines for academic departments for developing SOA plans and several
"hypothetical" assessment plans that served as models for departmental
assessment committees as they commenced their work. The SOA Policy continues
to provide the guiding principles of operation for the program.
and practices for outcomes assessment at UNI are grounded in the following
Student outcomes assessment is a process
by which evidence of the congruence between an institution's stated mission,
goals and objectives, and the actual outcomes of its academic programs
are assembled and analyzed in order to improve teaching and learning and
enhance goal congruence. Ü UNI SOA Policy
At UNI, we see four basic purposes for our student
outcomes assessment program:
1.Outcomes assessment is an instrument of quality
assurance, providing data that can be used to improve the quality of teaching
2.Through its role in academic program review and
strategic planning, outcomes assessment promotes the rational, orderly
evolution and improvement of the institution and its programs.
3.Outcomes assessment provides a basis for faculty
cooperation, improved integration within and among courses and programs,
and support for the development of interdisciplinary courses and programs.
4.Outcomes assessment helps to make the institution more responsive
to its primary constituencies, including students, parents, accrediting
bodies, potential employers, various public agencies, and others. The
external purpose supports needs for resources and claims of excellence.
Through these functions, student outcomes assessment helps us to focus
on the need to answer the following fundamental questions:
1.What should students learn?
2.How well are they learning it?
3.How do we know?
Student outcomes assessment at UNI is a goal-directed process. Through
the data collected, the process permits the analysis of information and
the adjustment and revision of programs and activities in relation to
broad institutional goals, specific program goals, and particular course
goals. As student outcomes assessment processes continue to develop and
mature at UNI, the integration of and interaction with academic program
review and strategic planning processes at the institution remain a strength
of our approach.
Organization of Student Outcomes Assessment at UNI
From the outset, the development and implementation of student outcomes
assessment plans at UNI have primarily been the responsibility of each
academic program's faculty. SOA Committees at the departmental level were
initially responsible for developing SOA plans (with administrative support)
in accordance with the SOA policy. Those committees continue to work with
department heads to administer and monitor ongoing assessment activities
and to analyze and interpret assessment results for the purpose of improving
Academic departments summarize and report their
assessment activities on a regular basis to the University Assessment
Committee and the Office of the Provost. In addition, the University Assessment
Committee has reviewed departmental assessment plans and results and recommended
improvements. Until 1996, a summary report of SOA activities was also
submitted to the Board of Regents. As stated earlier, the SOA process
was integrated with Academic Program Review in 1997. Since then, the SOA
portion of the Academic Program Review has been expanded and will continue
to be a major element in Academic Program Review.
Procedures for Student Outcomes Assessment at
According to the UNI SOA policy, student outcomes must be related to broad
institutional goals, specific program goals, and particular course goals.
The application of outcomes measures at all these levels helps assessment
activities serve both institutional and program-specific goals for improvement
and link SOA activities more closely with the University's strategic planning,
academic program review, and other institutional improvement processes.
Such an approach is consistent with the University's mission to support
exemplary academic programs. It also helps faculty and administrators
to respond analytically and deliberatively to assessment feedback.
There are five
basic stages (or points in time) at which student assessment occurs at
1.Admission to the University Ü This stage provides
pre-enrollment baseline data. A key ingredient to student outcomes is
what students bring to the University.
2.Declaration of Major Ü This level of assessment
provides input data for students entering their selected majors.
3.Mid-Program Ü This level of assessment is aimed
primarily at assessing progress in the major program.
4.Program Completion Ü This stage measures student
outcomes at the completion of the major.
5.Post-graduation Ü The final stage of outcomes
assessment measures longer-term effects of the educational experience.
According to UNI's SOA policy, outcomes assessment at the program level
occurs each academic year, with assessment results analyzed by program
faculty and utilized to guide changes in the curriculum and adjustments
in other aspects of the students' experience of the program. Several examples
of such program changes have been cited earlier in this report. Individual
departments have developed outcomes assessment plans that are in compliance
with SOA policies and procedures and fit the needs of their program. SOA
procedures, findings and results are also part of the Academic Program
Review process, which is required for each academic program at UNI according
to the Program Review Master Calendar (Detailed Procedures for Academic
Program Review, 2000-01).
The nature of assessment makes it important to avoid relying on only one
assessment measure, since such reliance could result in misleading perceptions
and conclusions about program needs and student performance. For this
reason, when program SOA plans have been designed and implemented at UNI,
multiple measures of assessment have been included at various stages (see
above) in the assessment process.
Department-level assessment committees have determined various measures
of assessment, based on their judgment as to which measures would provide
the most useful information. The UNI SOA policy requires that all students
be assessed on a sample of outcomes or that a sample of students be assessed
on all outcomes. Methods of assessment that are currently in use include
the following examples:
1.Admission to the university and/or declaration
of major Ü analysis of transcripts, GPAs, high school ranks, achievement
test scores, institutional profile reports, and institutional data, etc.
2.Declaration of major, mid-program, and/or program
completion Ü portfolios, interviews, surveys, self-assessments by students,
performance recital/exhibit/ research, practicum/intern/work experience,
comprehensive examination (written or oral), senior project or thesis,
testing, grade analyses, retention studies, enrollment data, etc.
3.Post-graduation Ü Regents Retention Study, Alumni
Relations Survey, Employer Survey, interviews with alumni, graduate school
entrance exam results, graduate school acceptance rates, professional
licensing exam success rates, etc.
Beyond the gathering
of assessment data as specified in each departmental assessment plan is
the essential step of interpretation and evaluation of results. SOA committees
at the departmental level again play the central role in this process.
Results of student outcomes assessment, which are summarized in regular
reports and reported to department faculty, department heads and college
deans, provide essential feedback for program improvement and also help
us to acknowledge accomplishment of outcomes. Student outcomes assessment
data, as discussed earlier in this report, are also reported and analyzed
in depth during the Academic Program Review (APR) process. The APR process,
which includes a self-study by department faculty, an on-site visit by
at least two expert external reviewers, follow-up discussions with the
Provost and college dean, and implementation of a Program Plan, insures
that SOA data provide decision support for changes in programs and other
ongoing program improvement efforts.
Examples of applications of post-graduation outcomes assessment data from
several departments provides a closer look at how SOA data is used for
decision support for program improvement efforts:
1.The Department of Geography conducts its own alumni
survey. Survey results are incorporated into curricular discussions. For
example, the 1992 survey results indicated the need to provide more experiences
for students in geographic information systems (GIS) technology. As a
result, new courses have been developed and appropriate geographic imaging
equipment and software have been acquired.
2.The Department of Communicative Disorders surveys
alumni on a regular basis. Data from a recent alumni survey of graduates
working in the field indicated that they were not adequately prepared
to conduct home visits as part of professional practice. As a result,
the Communicative Disorders Clinic initiated home visits as part of the
department's clinical routine and, thus, the students' practicum experience.
3.The Department of Special Education seeks input
from both its graduates and from their employers about the effectiveness
of students' professional preparation. Results provide information such
as graduates' own perceptions of their competency and of the quality of
UNI's program, as well as the supervisors' assessment of the graduate's
professional effectiveness in several areas. This information is utilized
on a continuous basis for course revisions and curriculum change processes.
4.UNI's Educational Leadership program surveys each
cohort in the year following graduation. Most recently, feedback from
alumni surveys contributed to a decision to reduce clinical components
in the program by one half and add a new course in Technology for Administrative
5.The Psychology Department utilizes both its own
and the University's alumni surveys. Input from these surveys is used
to guide curricular change. Most recently such feedback indicated undergraduates
needed more practical experiences. As a result, a course in "Community
Service: Experiential Learning in Psychology" and a course in "Psychology
and Law" have been added to the curriculum.
6.In the Department of Management, a recent alumni
survey revealed that the C programming languages are becoming more popular
because they provide a better platform for learning new web-based languages.
As a result, the Management Information Systems (MIS) faculty revised
the curriculum, converting the primary programming language in the department
from Pascal to C. C is now the primary language taught in the program.
7.Alumni from the Department of Marketing, through the department
alumni survey, reported that the rapid growth of e-commerce is quickly
changing the marketing profession. As a result, an Internet-based e-business
course was designed and is now being offered.
Goals for Student Outcomes Assessment
UNI's history of student outcomes assessment and academic program review
reveals an institution that is striving to learn and grow through self-examination.
As we look ahead to the next several years, we recognize the need to retain
our "faculty-centered" approach to outcomes assessment, with responsibility
for development, revision, and implementation of outcomes assessment occurring
at the departmental level. This approach has allowed us to accommodate
discipline-specific approaches to assessment that, we believe, contribute
to faculty satisfaction with assessment results and to better decision-making
about program improvement. We also are committed to maintaining and improving
the integration of assessment activities with academic program review
and strategic planning processes -- linkages that were applauded by the
NCA nearly five years ago.
That having been said, this NCA self-study reminds us that progress in
outcomes assessment has not been an entirely smooth path, and we have
challenges before us that will need to be addressed as we continue to
move forward. One ongoing challenge is maintaining faculty support and
enthusiasm for outcomes assessment. Involving faculty in the process and
providing in-service opportunities that both educate faculty in conducting
assessment and illustrate the value to both faculty and administrators
of assessment processes are important ways to achieve "buy-in" and insure
successful SOA processes. As relatively large numbers of new faculty join
the UNI community, it will be even more important for the institution
to maintain faculty support and continue to educate all constituency groups
on the importance of assessment. Though all agree that keeping academic
assessment faculty-driven is essential, we will need to continue to ensure
that assessment remains a meaningful, effective, and vibrant means for
program improvement and not an end in itself.
Outcomes assessment processes have been institutionalized. We have seen
more continuity in program oversight and support since the position of
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs became a permanent rather
than rotating position in July 1999. Assessment processes can falter when
department heads change and when departmental faculty "experts" on outcomes
assessment depart. Additionally, administrative coordination has now been
improved with the integration of student outcomes assessment and academic
program review processes. The Associate VPAA now oversees the assessment
The following goals have been established for student outcomes assessment
1.Establish a web-based source of SOA plans and
reports that is accessible for reference by all faculty. Such a source
will encourage assessment committee members and department heads to exchange
information and utilize their colleagues' experience and expertise.
2.Expand integration and use of outcomes assessment
data within the self-study portion of the Academic Program Review process.
3.Provide regular and ongoing in-service opportunities
and other professional development activities for involving new department
heads and new members of departmental assessment committees in SOA.
4.Insure that the institutional research office
provides adequate and appropriate data to support decisions for program
5.Define more fully the role of the University Assessment
Committee. The Assessment Committee was originally charged with developing
SOA policy and procedures and then with reviewing departmental assessment
plans and reports. Now that the assessment program has been implemented,
the role of the committee might also be expanded. The University Assessment
Committee will play a leadership role in accomplishing the goals for 2000-2001.
During the past decade, the University of Northern Iowa has made great
progress in implementing assessment processes. Both NCA and Board of Regents
mandates have stimulated this progress. Student outcomes assessment practices
at UNI are guided by the "Student Outcomes Assessment Policy," which defines
the policies and procedures for the implementation and administration
of student outcomes assessment activities and also provides specific guidelines
and examples to assist departmental SOA committees. We conduct assessments
at various stages in the assessment process and use multiple measures
of assessment. We are moving the institution forward by building upon
the strengths of our outcomes assessment efforts and recognizing and addressing
challenges in assessment implementation. With both administrative and
faculty support and a further development of a "culture of inquiry," outcomes
assessment will continue to help us realize the rational, orderly evolution
and improvement of our institution and its programs.
B1: Proficiency in skills and competencies essential for all college-educated
The University's General Education
Program requires that students demonstrate skills and competencies essential
for all college-educated adults. Since 1991 there has been a major investment
in the human, financial and physical resources to support full implementation
of General Education, including the Communication Essentials component.
College-level writing, mathematics, and oral communication courses comprise
this component of the General Education Program. All students are required
to pass these courses, thereby demonstrating that they have these essential
In Spring 1996, a three-year project was
launched on campus to "identify the qualities of an educated person that
should characterize a UNI graduate and integrate these qualities into
curricular and co-curricular activities." The Qualities of an Educated
Person (QEP) project, organized and funded through the Center for the
Enhancement of Teaching, was designed to stimulate the voluntary participation
of faculty, staff, and students in ways that would not by-pass or supplant
decision-making processes involving the University curriculum or institutional
policies. The "products" of the project were to be made available to the
University community for consideration by individuals, groups, and committees
in improving curricular and co-curricular programs and services in support
of undergraduate education.
This work was undertaken with the following overall aim in mind:
to create a learning community that enables students to develop the knowledge,
skills, and values necessary to live thoughtful, creative, and productive
The primary activities of the QEP project involved conversations
among faculty, staff, and students from across the University, first,
in generating, reviewing, and revising a set of qualities desired of students
who graduate from the University and, then, in creating a vision of undergraduate
education that would help students develop those qualities. Some of the
major contributions of the QEP project between 1996 and 1999 were:
1.A statement, "Qualities for UNI Graduates"
(October 1997), reviewed by approximately 1,200 faculty, staff, and students
and twice revised based on reviewer feedback.
2.Two rounds of "calls for proposals" (Fall 1997
and Fall 1998) and funded projects aimed at innovations in assessing and
developing the proposed qualities for UNI graduates.
3.A University-wide conference (Fall 1998) that
brought together nearly 1,000 students, faculty, and staff to hear about
the QEP project and 10 of the projects funded through it.
4.Continuing dialogue and development of courses
and other student learning experiences across the undergraduate curriculum,
especially in general education.
Indicator B2: Completion of an identifiable
and coherent undergraduate-level general education component
The University Faculty approved the current General Education Program
in 1988 for all undergraduate students attending the University of Northern
Iowa. The program is a required component for the bachelor's degree, and
the liberal arts education it provides continues to be the foundation
of our undergraduate programs. The general education component is consistent
across majors and degrees, and all students choose from options within
the same prescribed program.
In the University Catalog of Programs and Courses for 2000-2002
(pp. 49-50), the requirements of General Education are summarized and
then described for each of the six categories of courses. Students are
expected to complete 47 semester hours of General Education, which includes
courses in Civilizations and Cultures (11 hours), Fine Arts, Literature,
Philosophy and Religion (6 hours), Natural Science and Technology (9 hours),
Social Science (9 hours), Communication Essentials (9 hours), and Personal
Wellness (3 hours).
To frame our general education courses within the larger purposes of an
undergraduate education, the 1999 "Statement on Liberal Learning" adopted
by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) precedes
the general education course descriptions in the new UNI Catalog. This
statement reflects the philosophy and desired outcomes of UNI's Qualities
of an Educated Person (QEP) project:
"A truly liberal education is one that prepares us to live responsible,
productive, and creative lives in a dramatically changing world. It is
an education that fosters a well-grounded intellectual resilience, a disposition
toward lifelong learning, and an acceptance of responsibility for the
ethical consequences of our ideas and actions. Liberal education requires
that we understand the foundations of knowledge and inquiry about nature,
culture and society; that we master core skills of perception, analysis,
and expression; that we cultivate a respect for truth; that we recognize
the importance of historical and cultural context; and that we explore
connections among formal learning, citizenship, and service to our communities."
"We experience the benefits of liberal learning by pursuing intellectual
work that is honest, challenging, and significant, and by preparing ourselves
to use knowledge and power in responsible ways. Liberal learning is not
confined to particular fields of study. What matters in liberal education
is substantial content, rigorous methodology and an active engagement
with the societal, ethical, and practical implications of our learning.
The spirit and value of liberal learning are equally relevant to all forms
of higher education and to all students."
"Because liberal learning aims to free us from the constraints of ignorance,
sectarianism, and short-sightedness, it prizes curiosity and seeks to
expand the boundaries of human knowledge. By its nature, therefore, liberal
learning is global and pluralistic. It embraces the diversity of ideas
and experiences that characterize the social, natural, and intellectual
world. To acknowledge such diversity in all its forms is both an intellectual
commitment and a social responsibility, for nothing less will equip us
to understand our world and to pursue fruitful lives."
"The ability to think, to learn, and to express oneself both rigorously
and creatively, the capacity to understand ideas and issues in context,
the commitment to live in society, and the yearning for truth are fundamental
features of our humanity. In centering education upon these qualities,
liberal learning is society's best investment in our shared future."
The University accepts the Associate of Arts degree from an
Iowa community college as meeting most of the requirements of our general
education program. This follows a statewide agreement, first approved
in 1981, among the Regent universities and all of the public community
colleges in this state. This agreement, reviewed and reaffirmed annually
by chief academic officers of the community colleges and the Regent universities,
prescribes the liberal arts component within the Associate of Arts degree,
including requirements for the specific number of credit hours to be earned
in the categories of communications, humanities, math and science, social
science, and distributed areas. Students are required to earn at least
40 semester hours of coursework defined as general education to be eligible
for an Associate of Arts degree.
If a student transfers to UNI without an Associate of Arts
degree, then we make a course-by-course evaluation of prior work and establish
the remaining requirements needed to complete the UNI general education
program. This procedure also is followed for students who transfer to
UNI from any four-year college or university and from two-year colleges
There is agreement among the three Regent universities that
if a student has completed the general education program at one Regent
university and transfers to another Regent university the student will
be considered to have completed the general education program at the university
to which the student has transferred. The registrar of the university
originally attended must certify the completion of a general education
To assist students and their advisors to plan and track the
successful completion of general education requirements in a timely fashion,
the University implemented a comprehensive degree audit system in 1985.
Each semester, every undergraduate is provided with a paper copy of his
or her degree audit immediately prior to advanced registration for the
next semester. The degree audit plots all courses completed into the appropriate
categories of general education, major, minor, professional sequence and
University electives. The audit also shows the courses in each category
that remain to be completed.
A two-phase, web-based
Program of Study is intended to improve advising and program planning,
as well as scheduling and course availability. Each student's degree audit
is now viewable on our degree audit web site. This audit is automatically
updated whenever a change is made to the individual student's record.
Students may submit an electronic request to have a hypothetical degree
audit prepared that shows the requirements for adding or dropping a major
or minor. These hypothetical requests are prepared each night and are
viewable on the degree audit web site the next day.
have access to their advisees' degree audits through the Program of Study.
The advisor can also see the hypothetical degree audits that students
have requested, so the advisor can know of potential changes in advising
needs. These technological advancements in degree audit access are helping
students and their advisors more efficiently identify categories of coursework
and plan degree programs.
In Phase II, scheduled for Fall 2001, a pilot program will take the degree
audit system to another level. Not only will it allow students to see
what courses they need to graduate in their majors, it will give them
the ability to plan to take those courses. Data entered by students will
be stored and compiled for use by academic departments in planning course
offerings. UNI Information Technology Systems is developing the software
and related systems to ensure that the many different components of this
comprehensive program will interact as designed when it becomes fully
UNI students tend to be well informed about the General Education requirements,
but they may not understand why these courses are required. As we enter
a new century, we are committed to integrating a deeper appreciation of
the General Education curriculum with the total university experience.
Specifically, Objective 1.3 in our 2001-2006 Strategic Plan is:
to strengthen the UNI general education program
and simultaneously increase understanding of and commitment to the role
and value of a liberal arts education as the foundation of a university
Indicator B3: Mastery of the
level of knowledge appropriate to the degree granted
Knowledge appropriate to the degree -- that is, the coherence
and intellectual rigor of our degree programs -- is assured by curricular
review processes, academic program reviews, accreditation/reaccreditation
standards, advisory board assessments, and program rankings.
Mastery of knowledge by the student is documented through exams, papers,
recitals, and projects at the course level. Further demonstration of mastery
of knowledge appropriate to the degree granted comes in the form of juried
performances and shows at the senior or program level, portfolios, practica,
and student teaching experiences. Graduate students complete comprehensive
examinations, theses or research papers, as well as course work to demonstrate
mastery of knowledge for the degree. Further, in addition to establishing
their level of mastery per the demand for their skills in the employment
market, graduates must in some cases gain certification and licensure
or pass entrance exams.
Data compiled through alumni surveys and other student outcomes assessments
offer evidence that our graduates excel in educational, commercial, industrial,
organizational, technological, and entrepreneurial environments. These
formal and informal instruments demonstrate that students completing our
programs indeed possess mastery of requisite knowledge sufficient to obtain
desired positions in their field of choice or to pursue advanced study.
Data supplied by the 1998 UNI Alumni Survey, for instance, indicate that
about one-third of UNI graduates obtain an advanced degree.
A representative example of how programs are effectively assessed
and adjusted is provided by the School of Music, which reviewed its degree
programs in 1995 to determine whether its programs contained the appropriate
material for students majoring in music at the end of the 20th century.
A summary report provided by an outside team of visitors concluded that,
while students were appropriately mastering the content of degree programs,
some of the content needed adjustment to include more non-Western and
non-traditional elements. Since then, changes have been incorporated into
the curriculum that address those suggestions and elevate the program
to a level of excellence consistent with strategic planning goals and
objectives. Accreditation reviews, alumni surveys, and employer surveys
are other mechanisms through which programs are monitored to ensure that
students possess knowledge appropriate to the degree earned.
To summarize, the University strives to ensure that our students' experiences
in a diverse, dynamic learning environment equip them with the knowledge,
skills, and values they will need to live thoughtful, free, and productive
lives. The commitment to build on and surpass established levels of excellence
in scholarship and service is embedded throughout the Mission Statement
and 2001-2006 Strategic Plan.
Indicator B4: Control by the institution's
faculty of evaluation of student learning and granting of academic credit
The following statement appears in the UNI Policies and Procedures
Manual, Section II, Professional Ethics and Academic Responsibility, "Responsibilities
to Students," item 1:
Faculty members have the obligation to make clear
the objectives of each course or program, to establish requirements, to
set standards of achievement, and to evaluate student performance.
Faculty members at the University of Northern Iowa determine
course descriptions, content, hours awarded, and requirements for degrees.
They control the evaluation of student learning in their courses, they
are responsible for end-of-semester grading that leads to academic credit,
and they are responsible for supervision of field-based experiences and
granting of grades and credit for these experiences.
Faculty at the University of Northern Iowa exercise academic freedom in
course content, pedagogy, and student evaluations. Department heads, deans,
or the Provost will not change grades or curriculum without the consent
and approval of faculty.