Standard 2 - Educational Program & Its Effectiveness
With one eye on its past and the other on the future, MSU Billings has embraced policies and processes that continually assess the effectiveness of its educational programs to maximize teaching opportunities and student-learning outcomes. This has enabled the University to build a culture that embraces the concept of Access& Excellence at all educational levels, provide a wealth of opportunities for student engagement with faculty and continue exceptional service to all constituents. Standard Two presents a review of the instructional programs at the University, with special attention given to what is delivered, analyses of how the various instructional units and supporting programs contribute to the delivery of the University’s instructional mission and how program effectiveness is assessed through the Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) process.
Program review and departmental assessment, while mandated by the Montana Board of Regents (BOR), are a way of life at MSU Billings. In 2007, the Board of Regents modified the policies and procedures that govern reviews (Policy 303.3 http://mus.edu/borpol/bor300/303-3.pdf). Program review now occurs on a sevenyear cycle and includes all programs listed in the “degree and program inventory” maintained by the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and includes options, minors not associated with a major, and certificates of more than 30 credits listed in the inventory.
At the University level, the major purposes of program review are the following:
- To foster academic excellence at all levels
- To determine ways to improve the quality of every unit, and
- To provide guidance for decisions regarding future directions for the University.
Program review is meant to identify and direct attention to program areas in which excellence can be achieved and assure the most efficient use of available resources. The intent of the reviews is evaluation and a forward-looking appraisal of a unit’s strengths and weaknesses for continuing improvement and integrity.
In order to foster a University culture of excellence and integrity, to guide internal decisions and to address the BOR mandate, MSU Billings has implemented processes outlined throughout this standard report.
To foster a University Culture of Excellence and Integrity, in summer 2004, the University developed its second strategic plan document for the period 2005-2010. During a day-long Strategic Planning Retreat, University Strategic Initiatives and Academic Goals were collaboratively developed with active faculty and staff participation. The Retreat was moderated by an external facilitator. Eighty-nine individuals representing the various constituencies in the University (56 faculty, 18 staff, 13 administrators and two students) participated in the Retreat. The University Strategic Initiatives and Academic Goals document (exhibit 2.41) was distributed to all participants and subsequently presented to all academic departments. The Academic Master Plan was implemented in fall 2005 as the University instituted a Continuous Quality Improvement concept in all its practices.
Continuous Quality Improvement Steering Committee
The CQI Steering Committee, through Annual Program Reviews, has promoted the integration of student learning outcomes assessment into the organizational culture of MSU Billings as well as into the existing policies and procedures for the continuous improvement of the curriculum and services. Development of faculty ownership and understanding of assessment is critical to the institutionalization of assessment. Consequently, the Faculty Administration Collaborative Committee (FACC) recommended that assessment become a meaningful part of the regular faculty annual review process, position descriptions and all advertisements for faculty and staff positions. All new faculty Position Descriptions and advertisements for faculty recruitment include a statement of expectation that the new hire will participate in CQI activities.
The Continuous Quality Improvement Steering Committee (CQI Steering Committee) is a team with faculty, staff and student representation, appointed by the Cabinet in fall 2005. The Committee serves as a clearinghouse for program reviews and consists of the following members: two Co-chairs (Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, and Interim Dean, College of Education), Chief Information Officer, faculty from each of the six colleges, Director of Library, Director of Facilities Services, Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs, Director of Graduate Studies, representatives from the Academic and Staff Senate, two students and the Interim Provost. Its charge directs it to:
- Coordinate Continuous Quality Improvement activities
- Position MSU Billings for fall 2008 Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)accreditation campus visit
- Position MSU Billings for Programmatic Accreditations and the Board of Regents program reviews
- Develop operational guidelines to Integrate the University’s mission (Who is MSU Billings), vision (What does MSU Billings intend to be in the future?) core values (How does MSU Billings conduct its business?) evaluation and effectiveness (How well is MSU Billings doing it?).
- Understand the needs of the people who are served by MSU Billings
- Identify and define measures of success
- Brainstorm potential change strategies for improvement
- Plan, collect, and use data for facilitating effective decision making
- Gather evidence (review objectives/goals and collect data) and conduct analysis (What do the data tell us?) for current action and future planning (What are we doing as a result?)
The committee has made concerted efforts to share information and receive feedback through the newsletter CQI-FYI, the CQI website http://www.msubillings.edu/cqi/, presentations at the Back-to-School Conference, at the annual faculty meetings, in open public forums, at department meetings, at the meetings of the advisory boards, and through reviews of IR drafts by faculty.
The University follows a decentralized approach to assessment, with departments responsible for assessing specific academic programs and appropriate faculty groups responsible for assessing general education. The administration’s role is to coordinate and document assessment activities taking place at the department level, as well as to conduct surveys and provide data of institutional scope. The goal of outcomes assessment is program improvement.
For assessment to be effective, faculty must document program weaknesses, as well as strengths, and use their findings to make program improvements. To ensure that assessment proceeds in accordance with this goal, deans and department chairs are expected to recognize and acknowledge faculty participation in assessment activities through the annual review process at all levels.
It became incumbent upon the University, however, to define policies and procedures which maximize faculty opportunity to document student outcomes assessment activities; to engage in the continuous improvement of teaching and learning; and to promote faculty ownership, curricular integration, and campuswide communication concerning assessment activities. To this end, MSU Billings implemented several policies and procedures to address assessment that are described in the text that follows.
The CQI Steering Committee has coordinated a number of activities promoting the integration and institutionalization of educational assessment into the teaching and learning equation. The Committee has sponsored a number of university-wide assessment activities with the potential to impact overall assessment of teaching and learning. Professional development opportunities have included webinars, program consultants and the opportunity to attend assessment workshops. The following activities have been carried out systematically on a regular basis:
A. Annual Reports. Every unit prepares an annual report that includes a thorough and systematic plan for improvement over the next several years. The process is meant to help faculty, staff and administrators in an academic unit to understand the unit’s current status so that they can establish clear priorities for achieving excellence and promoting teaching, scholarship and service.
The co-chairs of the CQI Committee work closely with departments to develop learning outcomes and assessment plans for each of the academic majors. Departments were asked to develop assessment plans for each of their undergraduate degree programs that address the following:
- Degree objectives.
- Strategies for assessing discipline-specific knowledge.
- Methods for soliciting feedback from internal and external stakeholders.
Complete plans for all undergraduate degree programs are posted on the Web http://www.msubillings.edu and accessible to all stakeholders.
In the second year of the assessment cycle, departments submitted a summary of the results of their assessment activities. In their assessment summaries, departments also identified short- and long-term strategies for program improvement based on the data gathered through assessment activities.
The third year of the cycle has expanded on the second-year report, and departments measured program effectiveness and program efficiency using the previously established outcome measures. The report also included an evaluation of whether or not the programs met the specific accreditation standards unique to the discipline and the Board of Regents requirements for the cyclic program review mandated by policy 303.3.
B. Surveys. A schedule of recurring surveys to gather data for assessment was developed. These include the Student Satisfaction Survey (SSI), Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE), Community College of Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (CCFSSE), Employee Morale, Library, General Education opinion survey, Career Services survey and the Alumni survey. More information on the surveys and the results obtained and used can be found in Standard 3, Standard 5, and other pertinent sections.
C. Academic Foundations Assessment. The Academic Foundations Committee is charged by the Academic Senate with assessing the general education component of MSU Billings’ degree programs. The strategies and results are described in detail in the General Education section of Standard 2.
D. Beyond the Classroom. Opportunities are provided for students to succeed beyond classroom instruction. These include internships, undergraduate research opportunities, independent studies, capstone experiences and service learning through community involvement. Data on these activities are systematically collected and shared with the University community and beyond through press releases, the publication Connections, and Alumni outreach and at the Annual Emeritus Luncheon, the Annual Retirees Luncheon, the Co-operative Education Luncheon, and other events. Co-operative Education internships for students in all Colleges (except Education, which manages its own field experiences) are coordinated through Career Services. Each internship requires completion of both learning objectives and a learning agreement, signed by student, employer, and faculty supervisor, which complies with best practices in the field. At the conclusion of each semester, the experience is assessed through a self-evaluation by student and evaluations by the faculty supervisor and the employer. A report is sent to each dean at the end of each semester. The evaluation results are used to address concerns and make necessary changes for the improvement of the program.
The University, students, and employers are committed to the value of these experiences. With assistance from Career Services and Cooperative Education, 237 students earned 900 internship credits in 2006-2007; they were supervised by 53 faculty. Spring 2008 saw a 25% increase over spring 2007 in internship credits earned due to recent partnerships with the College of Allied Health Professions and the College of Technology.
Career Services conducts an annual survey to compile statistics about graduates’ employment or continuing education status. For the Class of 2007, 97% of BA/ BS survey respondents declared themselves “placed,” and graduates employed full time in their major field of study earned, on average, $31,928/year. COT graduates employed full time in their major field earned, on average, $30,266/year; 96% of respondents were “placed.” Results of this survey are used extensively by New Student Services and other offices in promoting the value of an education at MSU Billings.
MSU Billings has embarked on an aggressive internationalization agenda. The University recognizes the importance of students gaining a larger world view and experience. With that in mind, Global Engagement was added to the University Strategic Initiatives. Although a search for an International Studies Director failed, the University hired an experienced coordinator as it continues both the international programs and efforts to hire a director.
E. Student Success: The acceptance of students in graduate schools and professional schools and the successful completion of those continuing education programs is used as an indirect measure of program effectiveness. Each department reports the placement of its graduates in the annual reports. Specific information on each college is contained in the college reports. The University Relations regularly shares the information on student success in competitions, conferences and other areas through press releases that are posted on the University website for the current year and archived in the Library for previous years. MSU Billings also has a longstanding tradition of celebrating student success through the Outstanding Alumni Awards. Each year through the deliberations of five Outstanding Awards Committees, MSU Billings’ Outstanding Alumni are recognized at a brunch for exceptional contributions in their field, commitment of professional expertise and professional and civic contributions that bring pride and recognition to the University community.
Use of Assessment Data
The Student Satisfaction Survey (SSI) conducted during spring 2006, the Retention Consultant’s report and the other survey results indicated that while MSU Billings ranked high in many areas, a focused study in some areas was warranted. These included advising, recruitment, retention and e-learning. To effectively use the assessment data, address student concerns and create a user-friendly learning environment that will attract students, keep them engaged and allow them to graduate with the knowledge and skills they need, in August 2006, a retreat was held that resulted in the formation of four task forces in fall 2006, each charged with specific short-term and long-term goals. The strategies developed and implemented by each of these task forces have resulted in significant improvements in the above areas.
Details on each Task Force are described below.
Partners for Change
Advising Task Force. This task force consists of 15 members representing all colleges, faculty, staff, administration and students. It is co-chaired by the Director of Advising and a faculty member, and has met several times since its inception. It was charged by the CQI Steering Committee, Provost, and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs with identification of all advising-related issues and recommendations for improvement of the existing model. The task force reports to the CQI Steering Committee on a yearly basis or when information is needed. Students rated Academic Advising of higher importance than did students at the 22 peer institutions. A gap was identified between students’ level of importance for advising and their rating of satisfaction with the service. While the mean for this difference is not statistically significant, it does provide the opportunity to improve advising services in order to increase student satisfaction. The second survey (SurveyMonkey.com) showed that 18% ranked the Advising center “Excellent” (the highest category) while only 7% ranked it “Poor” (the lowest category). Similarly, faculty advising was ranked “Excellent” by 25% while only 7% ranked faculty advising “Poor.” Some of the written comments about advising were harsh, but it should be noted that only those ranking the question “Poor” were asked to provide written comments. Had students who ranked advising “Excellent” been asked to give written comments, we feel confident that we would have seen (at least) an equal number of positive statements about advising at MSU Billings.
While the Advising Task Force is reviewing peer institutions for comparison of advising structures, services and website features, the Advising Center has responded to the recommendations made by the Advising Task Force and to issues raised by the SSI and students’ individual concerns by adding more walk-in advising hours, instituting advising and registration weeks in both fall 2007 and spring 2008, presenting workshops for students and faculty, and adding more information to the updated website: www.msubillings.edu/advise. Faculty have responded to the student advising concerns by adopting mandatory advising prior to registration for classes for every major. Recommendations by the Advising Task Force include:
- Updating the features in Banner to improve the degree audit information available to students and their advisors with Degree Works (part of the Banner system)
- Providing comprehensive training for staff and faculty advisors to ensure complete, accurate knowledge of requirements, options, and expectations of students
- Organizing structured Advising Week activities (completed November 2007)
- Providing an Advising Manual as a resource for faculty, staff and students.
Therefore, the focus on improving advising has resulted in statistically significant student advising satisfaction from 2006 to 2008 as evidenced by the spring semester 2008 Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) that provided dramatic evidence of how well we serve our students. MSU Billings scored above the national mean on 78 of the 79 survey questions and the mean scores on academic advising (one of the 12 SSI student satisfaction scales) were significantly higher than 2006 SSI scores and the 2008 Noel-Levitz national data base. The probability of increase between the 2006 and 2008 MSU-Billings means for academic advising occurring by chance was less than .001.
Recruitment. This Task Force was created to develop a holistic approach to recruitment with campus buy-in from all constituents involved. It consists of 14 members representing all colleges, faculty, staff, administration and students, cochaired by the Director of New Student Services and a faculty member, and has met several times since its inception. It was charged with identification of various issues related to recruitment of traditional, non-traditional and international students. The Recruitment Task Force met several times, working in concert with the Enrollment Management Team, and created an initiative called Team 5200. The Team 5200 initiative reflects a goal of 5,200 students in Fall 2007. The team and administrators developed a series of recruitment activities and recommended incorporating those into the Retention Task Force to help consolidate everyone’s efforts.
The Recruitment Task Force felt strongly that faculty play a key role in recruitment. Therefore, it initiated a Faculty support plan to help the on-campus recruitment efforts so that Faculty representative(s) from each of the Colleges on campus are represented at luncheons and other events when students and parents are on campus. Several faculty in key disciplines agreed to participate in these activities. The strategies used and the hard work of the enrollment management team, the student affairs team and the dynamic faculty resulted in a significant increase in fall 2007 enrollments. Although the University did not achieve its 5,200-student goal, Fall 2007 enrollment of 4,912 reflects an 11% increase since 2002. At the College of Technology, an increase of 70 students from fall 2006, set a new record for the West Campus.
Retention. The objective was to establish retention as a critical component of
student success at MSU Billings by examining and improving the existing situation. The Task Force, which consisted of 15 members and was co-chaired by the Director of the Academic Support Center and a faculty member, identified the reasons why students leave the institution and created an intervention strategy for addressing those reasons. Data currently available show that MSU Billings’ retention rate is lower than the national average for public four-year universities. Approximately 53-56% of the University’s freshmen re-enroll for a second year, compared to a national average of 66-70%. Faculty and staff came together as members of the Retention Task Force, gathered information on current practices at MSU Billings and discovered many departments contributing to the University’s retention efforts. Preliminary Recommendations to increase retention were made in spring 2007 and implemented immediately. These included:
- Know our students better as individuals, especially their expectations of MSU Billings
- Know ourselves better. What are our “pride points” that will attract students and involve them in the University community? In effect, retention starts with the institution, at the point of recruitment.
- Recognize that retention involves all areas of University life: faculty, academic programs, staff, student services and social activities
- Improve early identification of and intervention with students who demonstrate characteristics of those who do not persist
Options include mandatory advising; an increased emphasis on A&SC 101, College Success Strategies; the creation of an academic recovery program; focus groups, interviews, and surveys to determine students’ expectations; the hiring of a retention counselor; increased faculty involvement; increased retention tracking by course, department and program; peer mentors; midterm grades for all students; and living-learning communities.
These efforts have resulted in increased retention of freshmen by 4% (from 2006 to 2007) while Fall 2007 enrollment increased by 2.1% (compared to fall 2006). Refer to Section 3.B and 3.D for more details on improvements made to academic advising, recruitment and retention.
e-Learning. Comprising 16 members and co-chaired by the Chief Information Officer and a faculty member, this Task Force has as its objectives to fully integrate the planning, implementation, and assessment of e-learning programs and services into the existing University infrastructure and to develop a Center for Excellence in e-Learning to cultivate research and application of best practices in e-learning, hybrid learning and alternative delivery models.
The Task Force formed subcommittees to define and develop 1) a Needs Assessment Survey and 2) an eLearning Organization for Teaching and Learning.
A needs survey was distributed to all faculty in spring 2007. Information gathered from the survey assisted the eLearning Organization for Teaching and Learning subcommittee to recommend a design for development of the eLearning environment.
MSU Billings has been a leader in online education in Montana for a decade and has used eCollege platform for delivery with its assessment tools. In fall 2008, the University will be transitioning from eCollege to a new platform, Desire to Learn. MSU Billings recognizes the huge impact of technology on education, academic support to students and faculty for development and delivery of online courses and programs and is positioned for a seamless transition.
To strategically advance the University’s online mission, an office of eLearning Operations was established in spring 2008 with a specialist hired as a Director of eLearning Operations, along with a pedagogical instructional designer to help with online program development and faculty advancement. The Director and the designated faculty member mentor faculty for e-learning and online teaching, and provide assistance in curriculum redesign, course development, quality measures and technology.
Provost Council Discussion Groups
MSU Billings recognizes the multifaceted 21st century challenges imposed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, VTEM contract, BOR policy and procedures, the increasing adult population of 25-45 years, declining high school graduates, shortage of skilled workers, and decreasing state support for education.
In summer 2007, MSU Billings began to proactively and collaboratively address the above challenges by promoting discussions and generating and implementing action plans that impact the campus. MSU Billings Faculty, staff and administrators gathered at the Downtown Campus for a two-day Retreat on July 5 and 6, 2007, to discuss Revenue Streams, College of Technology as a Community College, Program Development, and Creative Scheduling. To continue the dialogue and develop action plans, four ad hoc Discussion Groups were organized. These committees have met several times during AY 2007-2008. The proceedings of the Retreat and the follow up meetings are contained in Exhibit 2.32.
Faculty Administration Collaborative Committee (FACC) Work Groups Faculty rights, responsibilities, compensation, evaluation and assessment are established in the Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA and VTEM) at MSU Billings. In fall 2007, as collaborative bargaining negotiations for the 2008 contract on the East Campus began, four Faculty Administration Collaborative Committee (FACC) study Groups were formed to address issues related to Faculty Evaluation, Salary Compaction, Academic Support Center Instructors and Online Delivery. Each work group consisted of three faculty, three administrators and three students. Each work group had two co-chairs (one faculty and one administrator). FACC charged each work group to identify problems, address issues and come up with solutions. A final report was issued at the end of Fall 2007.
Procedurally, assessment is now being integrated into the established curriculum review cycle, which is conducted by each department every year in conjunction with the CQI Steering Committee Co-Chairs and the biennial catalog publication. The Co-chairs of the CQI Committee meet with each departmental chair to discuss the program reviews. By pursuing this model, student outcomes assessment becomes an integral part of the curriculum cycle rather than an “add-on” to faculty responsibilities. Annual program reviews are conducted, and each college and each department within each college review and assess their compliance with the University’s overall mission. The CQI process ensures an ongoing evaluation of the University’s mission and role within this region and a continuous attempt to match our offerings to regional needs.
- BOR Policy 303, Program Review http://mus.edu/borpol/bor300/303-3.pdf
- Exhibit 2.41, University Strategic Initiatives and Goals Document
- CQI Website, http://www.msubillings.edu/CQI
- MSU Billings Website, http://www.msubillings.edu
- Exhibit 6.10, Senate Committees, CQI Committees
- Exhibit 2.33, FACC Work Groups
- Exhibit 2.32, Proceedings of July 5-7, 2007 Retreat
Summary & Analysis
The core values of the University on integrity, educational excellence and student engagement as well as a commitment to Continuous Quality Improvement are embedded in delivery and assessment of educational programs offered by MSU Billings. Combined with the expertise of 155 full-time instructional faculty, a qualified pool of part time faculty and strong support from the community, the institution’s programs enhance student-learning outcomes. The common body of knowledge of Academic Foundations and the depth of professional, discipline-specific knowledge enable our students to make connections between the acquisition of knowledge and the generation of knowledge.
MSU Billings students relate their roles as stakeholders in their education to their roles as socially responsible, reflective citizens. MSU Billings’ instructional mission is further refined by the emphasis on the centrality of the liberal arts and sciences as an academic foundation to undergraduate and graduate education, integration of instruction with research and creative activity, promotion of interdisciplinary educational opportunities, and development of critical thinking and effective communication skills, and multicultural and global engagement.
Program review and departmental assessment are mandated by the Montana Board of Regents “in order to ensure program quality and effective stewardship of resources.” The university follows a decentralized approach to assessment and employs a variety of outcomes assessment formats described earlier in this section.
MSU Billings had contracted with eCollege to provide the shell for our program assessment system and is now transitioning to Desire2Learn. These systems, employing online course shells, allow course instructors to link program/course goals with course assessment strategies and grading procedures.
This linkage assures that enrolled students are achieving the expected performance outcomes. A University-wide systematic approach to assessment of student outcomes provides ongoing data for making data-informed decisions regarding program and course effectiveness. In addition, the system provides a common language for discourse among faculty as they review/revise existing programs and propose new programs. The system was implemented spring 2007, but discontinued due to vendor changes as described in Standard 2.B.1. In spring 2008, as a result of a two year review of IT contracts in the State of Montana, the 4 campuses of Montana State University (MSU) collaborated to adopt a single system, Desire2Learn (D2L).
Use of Assessment
MSU Billings, in various levels throughout individual divisions and departments, understands that student success and student learning takes place inside and outside the classroom. The ability to assess and measure that success is imperative. The University has embraced the concept of Continuous Quality Improvement, but the evolving process is not mature in all areas.
The challenge now and in the future is for the University to identify/refine its desired outcomes, develop a systemic process that is valid and reliable to collect the appropriate data and then aggregate/disaggregate that data. From that point, MSU Billings can use that data to make informed decisions.
The Academic Foundations (AF) program and program assessment implemented Fall 2007 grew as a response to faculty, student, and accreditation reviewers who called for a cohesive general education foundational package and ongoing assessment of effectiveness. The MSU Billings AF program consists of five areas determined by a committee of faculty, staff and students to be the necessary foundation for an educated person. The Academic Foundations program is aligned with the MUS general education requirements and has been continually assessed. Faculty and IT collaboratively designed a user-friendly interface in Spring 2008 for Academic Foundations assessment from Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 semesters. Assessment of the new Academic Foundations program is in progress as the university gets more sophisticated in collecting data and making changes.
To meet the needs of the Teacher Education Program undergraduate candidates, the CAS enhanced all content teaching minors to major status. With acceptable performance on the PRAXIS II examination, this assures that our elementary and secondary education majors graduating with one or more content area majors meet the federal definition of a Highly Qualified Teacher.
Continued interaction of faculty at the departmental level with Advising Center Advisors ensures advising accuracy and current knowledge of requirements, options, and expectations of students.
Part-time faculty are formally mentored by the departments through peer reviews of their performance and are provided with a part time faculty hand book, an orientation at the beginning of each semester and evaluated by the students at the end of term. The University re-hires only part-time faculty who have proven to provide quality instruction. Maintaining quality requires continuing evaluation at the department level of part-time faculty and continuing review of the ratio of parttime to full-time faculty by the Academic Senate.
MSU Billings recognizes that the world is shrinking due to immediate communication, the increasing speed of travel, and complex, increasingly interconnected economies. Graduates of the University have to be prepared for global citizenship. Therefore, MSU Billings has set Global Awareness as one of the institutional strategic initiatives. Faculty and students participate in this initiative through Fulbright Scholar Program, Study Abroad Programs, the International perspectives offered in the curriculum, the international students on campus and other cultural events. The College of Business has organized several student trips to Japan, India, China and other countries. The College of Arts and Sciences has taken students to Mexico, France, Greece, England, China and Ireland. The College of Education has embarked on international service learning with the initial trip being planned for Costa Rica.
Faculty who teach online courses have the opportunity for continuing professional development. The continually improving eCollege platform dictated a continuing and increased training and preparation as eCollege continued to provide updates for the campus. A trainer of trainers model was used for eAssessment through which selected faculty received instruction from eCollege and served as both trainers and mentors for faculty in their respective departments. With the change of online platform to D2L, new training opportunities for faculty exist.
In response to increasing student demand for online course and program delivery, MSU Billings implemented the eLearning Task Force through the Partners for Change process in Fall 2006. The eLearning Task Force recommended establishment of a University eLearning Center with pedagogical support for faculty. Technical assistance was transferred from the CPSLL to IT fall 2006. With these two University initiatives, faculty teaching online have the opportunity for both pedagogical and technical support at their campus and electronically through eCollege until Dec. 31, 2008 when D2L will replace the current e-platform.
Students require guidance for online learning as well. The eCollege platform provides a student tutorial that most faculty require at the beginning of each class. Similar activities are anticipated for D2L. Faculty teach online etiquette to students used to the anything-goes anonymity of electronic communication. Faculty have to scaffold student learning to encourage students to take responsibility for their personal course schedule and ultimate course completion. As a University, MSU Billings must develop a process of assuring student honesty and integrity for their own online as well as onsite work.
The graduate programs have grown significantly during the past decade. Beginning in the College of Education, graduate education is now a part of the College of Arts and Sciences and the recently-formed College of Allied Health Professions. Graduate enrollments grown in most programs and new programs have demonstrated continued growth patterns. Indeed, graduate education is a foundation for sustained enrollment across the university and will be a focal area for future enrollment management plans.
Several graduate programs have recently undergone curricular revisions to ensure excellence, quality, and to meet accreditation standards from national entities. For example, the Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program received accreditation from CORE. The Athletic Training program was accredited by their national organization. The graduate faculty are constantly refining and enhancing their programs to provide leading-edge, relevant advanced education. Balanced between on-site and on-line delivery modes, the graduate programs meet the needs of a diverse student community with high quality programs.
Continuing Education and Special Learning Activities
Programs offered through the College of Professional Studies and Lifelong Learning (CPSLL) have expanded in both breadth and scope over the past 10 years. As an incubator for program development the college has been involved in the creation and spin off of what is now the College of Allied Health Professions and the E-Learning Hub. CPSLL has expanded and strengthened its partnerships and is now involved in program development and delivery with virtually every other collegiate unit at MSU Billings. This might include development of new concepts for adult learners, offering of Kids Camps in the sciences, an educator’s workshop on classroom management, a conference on autism spectrum disorders or a licensing workshop for tax practitioners. Partnerships with local and regional organizations have permitted the college to extend its resources and draw on the expertise and contacts of those in our community and surrounding region.
- Access through flexible schedules.
- Efficient packaging of courses in interdisciplinary programs.
- Continuous Quality Improvement as an assessment model.
- Assessment based new Academic Foundations Program.
- Adoption of an Information Literacy Category in the Academic
- Online courses and programs.
- Highly qualified faculty.
- 21:1 student faculty ratio.
- 81% of classes with fewer than 30 students.
- 95% of classes with fewer than 50 students.
- Active learning experiences through capstone seminars, internships,
community service, class presentations and service learning opportunities.
- Use of advisory Boards for effective curriculum planning.
- Mentoring and training of faculty and students for online education.
Commitment to student learning.
- High success rate of students in professional programs.
- Placement of students in professional and graduate programs.
- Grant support for improvement of infrastructure for research, instruction
- Diversity of continuing education opportunities.
- Mentoring and evaluation of part time faculty.
- Program coherence.
- A resource rich indigenous knowledge base from four American Indian
Reservations in the region and their associated tribal colleges.
- Undergraduate research experiences.
- Mandatory advising.
- Growth and expansion of graduate programs over the past decade.
- Active engagement – faculty are actively engaged with graduate students (advising, mentoring, research).
- Response to community needs through graduate internships, student teaching, clinics as well as producing new professionals, many of whom stay in the greater Billings area.
- Ability to continue to offer the level of quality appropriate for graduate programs.
- State support for education.
- Programs for adult learners.
- Implementation of MUS mandates (transferability of courses, Learning outcomes Councils and General Education).
- Unfunded BOR mandates.
- Indian Education for all.
- Seamless transition from eCollege to D2L.
- Dual Credit programs.
- Transition of COT to Community College.
- Prioritizing investments to ensure the continuation of quality programs.