OSUOklahoma State University


Criterion Three: Student Learning and Effective Teaching

The organization provides evidence of student learning and teaching effectiveness that demonstrates it is fulfilling its educational mission.

OSU has made clear progress in developing a culture of assessment in the past 10 years. The university has created review structures and learning goals that aid the academic review process. The results from teaching and learning assessment are used throughout the university to facilitate assessment-driven curricular and program changes. OSU also encourages innovative and effective teaching methods while it supports diversity and provides effective learning environments.

Core Component 3a

The organization's goals for student learning outcomes are clearly stated for each educational program and make effective assessment possible.

OSU clearly delineates learning goals for its undergraduate and graduate programs by identifying the expected learning outcomes for each. These learning outcomes, developed by faculty members and department heads, are stated in several OSU publications and programs. Effective assessment is made possible when outcomes are examined in light of clearly stated expectations.

Differentiating Learning Goals

The university catalog3.1 contains brief descriptions of every college, department, and program on campus. In every case, this description includes an overview and/or definition of the academic unit, including the types of courses and degree plans that are offered, as well as expected employment outcomes. These descriptions are often very detailed as to how the degree prepares the student for life after the university or after that specific degree is obtained. Most descriptions include graduate school as a preparation path option.

For example, each department in the College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology (CEAT) explicitly lists educational objectives for that major in the catalog3.2 as part of its documentation for the recent Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) accreditation. Most of these educational objectives lists are couched in terms of the bachelor of science degree (chemical, civil and environmental, mechanical and aerospace), although others are more general (biosystems and agriculture, electrical and computer, industrial and management, and architecture). However, all address the preparation that a student will receive for professional employment, as well as continuing education (graduate school) and academic employment.

The university's general education requirements cross all academic programs to ensure that students have a broad education and solid educational foundation upon which to build their specific careers.

The Office of University Assessment and Testing3.3 (OUAT) is OSU's primary assessment entity. Since OSU's last HLC accreditation in 1995, outcomes assessment has become an important, campus-wide activity.

Assessment activities at course, program, and institutional levels provide evidence of student learning throughout the university. Every OSU degree program, both undergraduate and graduate, is required to have an assessment plan3.4 that describes expected learning outcomes and the methods used to evaluate student achievement of those outcomes. Each plan states how assessment results will be acted upon to improve academic and student programs. Additionally, each degree program submits an annual assessment report3.5 that describes the methods used to evaluate student achievement of the expected learning outcomes, the number of individuals assessed for each method, the results or findings from the assessments and how results are interpreted relative to the program's expected student outcomes, and finally, specific examples of how assessment results have been or will be used for program development.

The Academic Program Review is the method by which the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE) and institutions of higher education in Oklahoma evaluate proposed and existing programs, as mandated by the Oklahoma Legislature. Information developed through analysis and assessment (from Policy Statement on Program Review) provides the basis for informed decisions about program initiation, expansion, contraction, consolidation, and termination, as well as reallocation of resources.

OSU's Academic Program Review process reviews each degree program every five years.3.6 One component of this process is the annual assessment report. Feedback from program alumni and documented achievements of program graduates also must be provided.

While OSU's strategic planning initiative had no direct mandate to incorporate expected student learning outcomes, in many cases, these plans include sections concerning the performance of undergraduate and graduate students. These include specifying how students will be assessed and setting goals for improved student learning based on assessment results. Perhaps most importantly, all units on campus have had to develop mission and vision statements, strategic goals, and critical success factors as part of the strategic plan. Thus, each unit has had to articulate its mission, making it possible to determine each unit's self-described educational mission. The accumulation of these statements provides a concrete basis on which to evaluate whether each unit is fulfilling its mission.

Changes are made when assessments show there may be problems with curricula. For example, indications from the assessment of students' writing, conducted through the general education assessment committee and supported by data from the National Survey of Student Engagement3.7 (NSSE), led the General Education Advisory Council to implement new, stronger writing requirements in general education courses and to more narrowly define the types of writing that are considered valuable in the assessment context. For departments and colleges that are individually accredited,3.8 outcomes for educational programs are assessed as part of the accreditation process.

Assessment Reporting Structure

Based on the reporting structure specified by the OSRHE, assessment at OSU usually occurs in four categories as follows:

  1. Entry-Level Assessment — Evaluation of Student Preparation for the Purpose of Course Placement.

    OSU makes heavy use of the ACT examination for admissions decisions, as well as remedial placement. ACT scores also are correlated with general education assessment results to determine if prior preparation affects writing, math, and science skills.

  2. Program Outcomes Assessment — Evaluation of Student Achievement of Expected Outcomes in the Major.

    As indicated earlier, all academic departments and degree programs must have an approved plan on file with OUAT, and regular reviews and updates are recommended. Each plan and annual report, organized by college, is available on the OUAT website. The OSU Assessment Council oversees the assessment program on campus and works with the OUAT director in an advisory capacity in regard to policy setting, assessment fee use, and review of program assessment plans.

  3. General Education Assessment — Evaluation of Student Achievement of Basic Skills Competencies and General Education Learner Goals.

    OSU also has instituted a general education assessment program in the last few years. This effort is focused on gathering random, anonymous artifacts of student work from various disciplines and courses across campus. These artifacts are evaluated based on rubrics3.9 that permit standardized scoring of diverse examples of student work. General education assessment has been most successful with respect to writing skills. Math and science rubrics are newer, having experienced several modifications, and OSU is just beginning to accumulate enough useable data from science and math classes to obtain meaningful results. A rubric for critical thinking was developed during the summer of 2004 and plans call for numerous artifacts to be assessed with this new rubric in the summer of 2005. The General Education Assessment Task Group was formed in 2000 to maintain and update artifact collection methods and evaluation rubrics, as well as to summarize the annual and long-term results of general education assessment data collection.

  4. Assessment of Student and Alumni Satisfaction — Evaluation of Students' Perceptions of Educational Experiences Including Satisfaction with Support Services, Academic Curriculum, and the Faculty.

OUAT regularly conducts five major student surveys, which are described on the OUAT website. Every year, the OUAT conducts alumni surveys. In even numbered years, alumni of undergraduate programs are surveyed. In odd numbered years, alumni of graduate programs are surveyed. This telephone survey targets alumni who received their OSU degree one and five years prior to the year they are surveyed. The survey provides data on alumni careers, continued education, and general satisfaction. Many academic programs add program-specific questions for their alumni that often include self-assessments of learner outcomes. Results are reported for the entire institution and for each participating academic unit.

Direct and Indirect Measures

OUAT encourages departments to use multiple direct and indirect assessment methods to measure student learning. Direct assessment methods require students to demonstrate knowledge and skills and provide data that directly measure achievement of expected outcomes. These methods include:

Indirect assessment methods, such as surveys and interviews, ask students to reflect on their learning in and outside the classroom. Following are some examples.

College assessment and accreditation requirements are varied as follows:

Information Availability

Results of assessment of student learning are available to appropriate constituencies, including the students themselves. All assessment plans and reports are available on the OUAT webpage, as well as in the annual university report that includes an executive summary3.10 for the whole campus.

Faculty are becoming increasingly aware of the value and presence of on-going assessment activities. For example, each year more faculty participate in providing samples of student work for general education assessment and more are involved in the process themselves as reviewers. In 2004-2005, faculty also participated in a series of professional development sessions on the general education assessment process, development of rubrics for that process, assessment results, and curricular changes based, in part, on these results. Faculty also participated in a series of workshops on improving program outcomes assessment plans and annual reports, including discussion on writing clear statements of student learning outcomes, designing rubrics as methods of assessment, and interpreting assessment results within the context of the program's learning goals. All of these activities have increased awareness of how assessment is being used to improve programs and has led to “cross-over” applications — for example, the rubric that was developed to assess students' written communication skills has been modified by some faculty members for use in individual courses. Rubrics have also been developed for program-specific learning outcomes. Faculty are having more success in conducting assessment activities that can also provide information for program or school accreditation.

Although direct feedback to students is implicit because program or course changes occur from assessment results, the student body has not been widely aware of the overall outcomes of assessment beyond the specific activities in which they participate (i.e. surveys or exit interviews). This situation was addressed in the fall of 2004 when a graduate student intern working with OUAT developed a presentation about the assessment program at OSU and the role of assessment in accreditation. A second intern presented the PowerPoint presentation to various student groups in the spring of 2005 to inform them about how their assessment fees are spent and describe the role of assessment in improving programs and providing accountability, as well as to discuss with them the role of assessment in accreditation.

OUAT prepares an annual assessment report3.11 in compliance with the OSRHE's “Policy Statement on Assessment of Students for the Purposes of Instructional Improvements and State System Accountability.”3.12 In accordance with these policies, the report provides responses to specific questions about entry-level assessment, mid-level assessment, program outcomes assessment, assessment of student and alumni satisfaction, and assessment of graduate programs. These reports, in part, influence the OSRHE's policy decisions, resulting in annual evaluations of the performance of the university and providing opportunities to examine both strengths and weaknesses and take appropriate action, if necessary.

Uses of assessment results reported by OSU academic programs include:

Program-specific examples of assessment information providing valuable feedback to a variety of audiences follow:

External Accountability

OSU uses assessment data (e.g., graduation rates, licensing exams passage rates, placement rates, and transfer rates) for purposes of external accountability. Examples of the assessment methods include licensing or certification exams; portfolios reviewed by faculty or outside professionals; professional juries or evaluators who evaluate student projects, papers, exhibits, performances, or recitals; and intercollegiate competitions that demonstrate knowledge or skills related to expected student outcomes.

Also, as previously mentioned, the OUAT prepares an annual assessment report that provides vital information to the OSRHE for decision making. The Academic Program Review (APR), mandated by the Oklahoma Legislature, reviews each degree program every five years. As one component of the review process, each degree program is required to provide information from its Student Outcomes Assessment Plan and Annual Reports.

Faculty Involvement

OSU faculty members are involved in defining expected student learning outcomes and creating the strategies to determine whether those outcomes are achieved. Each degree program has identified an assessment coordinator. Some coordinators serve for undergraduate and graduate level programs, some for multiple programs within a department, and in the College of Human Environmental Sciences (CHES) and SSB, one coordinator is identified for the college. Of sixty coordinators, fifty-two (87%) are faculty members, and eight are staff members (six of these eight are academic advisors). Faculty involvement is indicated in many assessment plans and reports that often, in a general way, describe how assessments are conducted, and how results are distributed and used for decision making. Faculty members also are responsible for making sure that relevant assessment recommendations are implemented.

Faculty involvement is required by the College of Engineering, Architecture, and Teachnology's (CEAT's) accrediting agency, ABET. Faculty must identify constituents for each program, provide assessment data and objectives/outcomes to them, and seek their input. Based on this information, faculty members define or redefine educational objectives, student learning outcomes, and strategies for achieving the outcomes and objectives. For architecture accreditation, NAAB expects full faculty involvement.

The CHES facilitates assessment leadership efforts through its HES Faculty Assessment Committee, which has faculty representatives from each department/school. Both graduate and undergraduate student representatives also serve on the committee along with an administrative liaison, the associate dean for academic programs and services. The committee meets monthly. Faculty representatives serve as the assessment coordinators in their respective departments/school. A graduate assistant supports CHES assessment efforts.

Geography Department faculty members annually use information gathered via assessment to improve undergraduate instruction. The Undergraduate Committee uses assessment as a primary means of gauging student satisfaction with the program, reporting to the faculty as a whole and implementing recommended changes. Each year, the assessment coordinator drafts the departmental assessment annual report. This draft is then circulated to all faculty members for editorial review as well as dissemination of the overall results of departmental undergraduate assessment. Each year in August, the department conducts an all-day planning conference, and the Undergraduate Committee has a permanent agenda position for reporting on the status of the undergraduate program. At this meeting, the advisor/coordinator reports on assessment results and encourages open discussion of the findings of the annual report disseminated earlier in the summer.

In the School of Architecture, all assessment results are analyzed and reviewed by the school's assessment committee. The assessment committee is charged with identifying areas of concern and recommending courses of action. In keeping with the philosophy that academic affairs should be managed by the faculty acting as a committee-of-the-whole, the school has no standing curriculum committee. Therefore, general results are referred to the faculty for review and implementation into the curriculum. More specific results may be discussed privately with selected faculty for implementation into specific courses.

The General Education Assessment Committee and the Assessment Council3.13 provided a series of professional development sessions for faculty and assessment coordinators in fall 2004. Sessions titled “Developing and Assessing Critical Thinking,” “Using Portfolios for Outcomes Assessment,” “Effective Departmental Outcomes Assessment,” and “Regional Accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission” were well attended and resulted in good exchanges of ideas and practices. Sessions in spring 2005 focused on the process and results of general education assessment since its inception in 2000 and effective outcomes assessment for graduate programs. In addition, the Assessment Council provided additional funding to support faculty travel to conferences and workshops on assessment for 2004-05.

Reviewing Assessment Effectiveness

The Assessment Council periodically reviews assessment plans and reports submitted by degree programs. This past year, the schedule for these reviews was modified to support the Academic Program Review process. Since documentation of the use of assessment results for program development is now requested for the APR process, the Assessment Council reviews and provides feedback on outcomes assessment one year in advance of the program's participation in APR. This schedule modification allows for feedback from the Assessment Council well in advance of the APR.

Past assessment reviews have resulted in greater communication and understanding of outcomes assessment and what academic units should be doing. Almost three-quarters of the academic units have revised their assessment plans or otherwise demonstrated greater commitment to outcomes assessment in their programs as a result of feedback from the Assessment Council Reviews.

Information from general education assessment is presented annually to the General Education Advisory Council,3.14 Assessment Council, Instruction Council,3.15 and Faculty Council.3.16 The process has focused attention on student learning, general education outcomes, and the issue of how individual general education courses provide opportunities for students to develop general education knowledge and skills. Four years after implementation, these assessments are yielding interesting results and influencing change at several institutional levels.

Core Component 3b

The organization values and supports effective teaching.

Despite budget constraints, OSU provides support and rewards for effective teaching. The university emphasizes the assessment of teaching methods, development of quality curricular materials, teacher training, and rewards for outstanding teaching and innovation.

Enhancing Teaching Skills

A number of teaching enhancement programs are available to the entire university community. These include the Training in the Professoriate3.17 program, a series of 90-minute seminars delivered by OSU faculty and staff. These seminars, which are available to all faculty members, post-docs, and graduate students, provide insight into the work of university faculty. Graduate students may earn one hour of credit for attending the seminars and writing about the experience. Recent seminars have covered subjects such as advising and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, classroom diversity, and tips for professional presentations. As previously mentioned, the Institute for Teaching and Learning Excellence also provides learning opportunities and facilities for faculty. Information Technology (IT) staff present many seminars designed to help teachers improve their technological skills in a variety of areas including distance learning and classroom technology.

In addition, the College of Education (COE) teaches EDUC 5993 Instructional Effectiveness Training Program, an online mediated course. The course, designed for teaching assistants in all areas, examines the many aspects of teaching in higher education. The course includes both theory (e.g. traditional instructional design) and practical applications (e.g. how to create a lecture). Development of classroom climate, understanding and assessment of students, classroom practices, teaching materials creation, and development of support systems are all addressed.

The newly created Institute for Teaching and Learning Excellence (ITLE) will provide faculty development in three areas: new faculty, continuing faculty, and technologically facilitated instruction. The faculty advisory board will develop a series of workshops for instructional improvement beginning in the 2005-2006 academic year.

Other programs to facilitate professional development as it relates to teaching vary by college. Some colleges have their own programs, specific committees for effective teaching, retreats, orientation seminars, workshops, and assistant deans with responsibilities in this area, while other colleges rely on university-wide programs.

Specific examples include the English Department, which conducts required seminars for new teaching assistants. In addition, CHES offers a year-long faculty scholars program the first year of a new tenure-track faculty member's employment, and only CHES has a college-wide mentoring program, although other colleges have formal and informal department-level mentoring arrangements.

Assessing Teaching Performance

The university course evaluation form is the most widely used method of evaluating teacher performance. Exit interviews with students, classroom visits, and peer review of syllabi are other methods. Outcomes assessment is not used for evaluation of teacher performance; it is used to assess student learning.

University policy requires all instructors to participate in student evaluation of their courses at least once a year using a student survey of instruction. The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR), CHES, and the Spears School of Business (SSB) require evaluations every semester. The format of the student survey of instruction may vary by department, although a standard form is provided by the university. Some departments implement other programs for evaluating instructional effectiveness of teaching assistants or candidates for tenure and promotion. These may include classroom visits by experienced teaching faculty, peer reviews of syllabi, self-evaluations of teaching performance, and exit interviews with students.

Teaching Awards

The Regents Distinguished Teaching Award3.18 (RDTA) is the primary teaching award for most colleges, although some colleges have teaching and advising awards supported by private funds, departments, or organizations. Other university-wide awards include the Sigma Xi Lecturer and the Merrick Foundation Teaching Award.

In addition to RDTAs, the College of Arts and Sciences' (CAS) Student Council and individual departments make awards for teaching excellence. CASNR has a strategy for formally recognizing teaching and advising, and college departments/disciplines also stress teaching quality and awards. CHES promotes the RDTA process within the college and encourages students to nominate faculty for the award. The faculty member who is selected for this award receives a $750 stipend for professional development, a college plaque, and recognition at the annual CHES Celebration of Excellence scholarship event. Also, a large photograph of the winner is displayed within the central corridor of the CHES Building.

SSB teaching awards include the Greiner Award for Teaching Excellence, which is awarded at the graduate and undergraduate level, the RDTA, and various departmental and organizational awards, including Outstanding Faculty Advisor, Outstanding SSB Professor, Award for Excellence for Advisement, Faculty of the Month, Academy of Marketing Science Teaching Excellence Award, Outstanding Marketing Teaching Award, Chandler Freitz Teaching Award, Manuel M. Davenport Spirit of Wakonse Teaching Award, and the Outstanding MBA Faculty Award.

In addition to university awards, CEAT offers two teaching awards funded by the Halliburton Foundation and an advising award. Some of the student or pre-professional organizations and honor societies in CEAT's academic units identify outstanding instructors and/or advisors each year. Most professional organizations have national teaching awards. The American Society for Engineering Education has a substantial list of teaching and advising awards both at the regional and national levels.

Identifying Ineffective Teaching

Promotion decisions are based partly on teaching effectiveness for all faculty, whether the appointment is teaching and/or research. However, some administrators report that it is possible for a faculty member with few teaching responsibilites to be promoted, even if he or she is less effective as a teacher. CAS reports that promotion decisions are based partly on teaching effectiveness and are designed to prevent ineffective teachers from receiving tenure. CEAT reports that while there are several criteria for reappointment, promotion, and tenure, a faculty member does not have to contribute strongly in all categories.

Department heads are responsible for identifying less-than-effective teaching and for taking action to remedy the problem. Problems are identified through exit interviews with students, by reviewing student evaluations of the instructor, and by advisors hearing from students. Problems are addressed with the faculty member as part of the annual appraisal and development (A&D) process. Remedies may include not rehiring ineffective adjuncts, not reappointing faculty, adjusting appointments, and mentoring.

Innovative Teaching Methods

The development of innovative teaching methods is encouraged and often rewarded across the OSU campuses. For example, CAS department heads and school directors may recommend larger raises or equity adjustments in salary for faculty members who demonstrate innovation. In addition, CAS faculty members who are effective and innovative teachers are more likely to receive summer teaching assignments when they request them.

CEAT reports that for some faculty, the primary reward for innovation is the satisfaction of accomplishment and the thrill of seeing improved student learning. For some innovations, CEAT provides public (internal or external) announcements. Substantial innovative projects may be externally funded and/or produce refereed publications. If the requirements for scholarship are accomplished in the innovation, it contributes toward reappointment, promotion, tenure, pay raises, and faculty awards just as would any other scholarly activity. In the reappointment, promotion, and tenure process, instructional innovation can enhance either the teaching or the scholarship part of the evaluation. CEAT also provides grant-seeking support, attempts to waive or bend policies when necessary and appropriate to accomplish the innovation, and provides institutional support for innovative programs when necessary.

Regular CHES faculty retreats focus on topics that engage participants in considering innovative practices. For example, in January 2004, a creative consultant provided strategies for identifying innovative approaches to teaching and other work issues. The previous January, a panel of CHES and CASNR faculty reported on and provided handouts about innovative active learning and team-oriented instructional practices that they had tested in their classrooms. Faculty teaching practices are often highlighted in the CHES annual magazine distributed to faculty, staff, students, students' parents, alumni, associates, and friends of CHES. Faculty members also are encouraged by department heads to establish annual instructional goals that involve innovative practices. Thus, these innovative teaching practices are part of the annual Appraisal and Development (A&D) process, which is directly linked with promotion and tenure.

SSB faculty members are encouraged to incorporate state-of-the-art technologies and innovative practices to enhance learning. Numerous examples of innovative teaching methods may be found on the SSB website.3.19

Technology in Teaching

Over the past decade, OSU has supported effective teaching by ensuring that technology has been incorporated into most aspects of teaching for virtually all faculty at OSU. The way material is presented in class, the manner in which extra materials are provided to students, the communication techniques between teacher and student, or the teacher and the class as a group have all changed due to technology. The university and the colleges have responded vigorously to provide the technology and the necessary support for effective use. More than 100 computer labs with almost 2,000 stations, extensive multimedia centers, and many technology-based classrooms have been constructed to support teaching. Colleges reported through surveys how they have incorporated technology in teaching.3.20

Most colleges rely on IT staff for assistance, seminars, and workshops, but some departments have their own information technology staff. Also, individual faculty members share their expertise within departments by holding seminars. Events such as Tech Tuesday,3.21 which feature a faculty member discussing his or her technology expertise at a weekly lunch for a broad campus audience, ensure that skills are shared and experiences are enhanced through interaction. This event and others are sponsored by the Faculty Support Center3.22 that is part of the Institute for Teaching and Learning Excellence. In addition, the center provides technology training in formal hands-on group sessions, which are scheduled throughout the semester, and also in personal training through phone conversations, e-mail messages, or casual walk-in visits to the center. Initial efforts in the use of technology were led by faculty members who were involved in distance learning courses and developed innovations to meet the needs of students at numerous remote sites. SIS training for advisors is provided to new faculty. Numerous faculty members completed training supported by the colleges through the Teletraining Institute3.23 to assist professors in developing and delivering courses at a distance. For the past two years, the provost has provided partial summer support for faculty who are willing to prepare courses for on-line delivery.

IT and audiovisual staff maintain instructional equipment (computers, video projectors, DVD players, etc.) in classrooms. The Student Technology Fee Committee approved more than $400,000 to upgrade and create additional multimedia classrooms across campus in summer 2005. Most colleges replace faculty computers on a regular basis, provide excellent technical support for software and hardware problems, and use network management and servers for classroom materials and instructional aids. The students' technology fees support many computer laboratories across campus and provide a wide range of software and extensive printing opportunities.

Several CAS instructors are pioneers in the field of distance learning and still offer distance courses in subjects such as French, algebra, chemistry, physics, geography, and political science. SSB reports that video-streaming applications were used early in the Telecommunications Management program and became a dominant delivery mode for a few semesters before CD-ROMs and the internet replaced them. The SSB also is home to the unique Trading Floor laboratory, which simulates the New York Stock Exchange Trading Floor. The university operates numerous distance-education studios in Stillwater and Tulsa that are equipped with two-way video, audio, and digital recording.

CEAT also has a substantial involvement with distance education. In the last few years, the college has facilitated the distance delivery or reception of 90-100 courses per year. These courses are delivered by two-way video, streaming video, CD, and video tape. CEAT Distance Education Outreach supports the faculty member with all scheduling, course approval, transmission, recording, delivery and receipt of course materials, and negotiations with receiving or transmission sites.

The Human Development and Family Science Department has an ongoing contract with the Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide courses, via distance education, to DHS professionals. CHES is a member of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance3.24 (Great Plains IDEA), which delivers totally online masters programs in Family Financial Planning, Gerontology, and Merchandising. Courses are delivered from various alliance campuses, including OSU, and course enrollment includes students from all alliance campuses. The COE Technology Group has been involved with grants associated with Oklahoma State Legislative Bill HB1815 that supports public school teachers in becoming more technologically literate.

Curricular Content

OSU values and supports effective teaching by making sure its curricular content is designed by qualified faculty members. Strategies for instruction also are designed by faculty members to promote effective teaching. In all colleges, content is usually decided by individual faculty and/or faculty committees at the departmental level, and proposed changes are then forwarded to a college-level curriculum committee. While individual faculty members are often responsible for the content of the courses they teach, there is an expectation that they will keep in mind teaching objectives set by curricular committees, advisory boards, and accreditation requirements. Curricular content of multi-section courses is determined by the faculty members involved with the courses or, in some instances, by departmental committee.

Instruction Council also must pass proposed curricular changes. This ensures that changes that affect programs across colleges are adequately reviewed by all faculty members. Instruction Council is composed of academic associate deans from the colleges who provide input and direction to the Division of Academic Affairs3.25 in the administration of academic policies and procedures, curricular requests, issues related to delivery of instruction, and an array of other academically focused concerns.

Copyright Concerns and Technology

In November of 2002, the TEACH Act expanded the scope of educators' rights to perform and display works and to make the copies integral to such performances and displays for digital distance education, making their rights closer to those of teachers in face-to-face teaching. In order for faculty to take advantage of the TEACH Act and lawfully use copyrighted materials in distance education, the institution must meet certain conditions. These conditions include having published copyright policies in place, technological safeguards (such as limited reception and downstream controls), and systematic mediated instruction. If any of these components is missing, faculty cannot take advantage of these important provisions. OSU is not in compliance with these conditions because it does not have an adequate published copyright policy in place. The university's copyright policy deals only with ownership of intellectual property created by OSU personnel. The university needs to develop a comprehensive computer software copyright policy.

Professional Organization Membership

Most faculty members participate in professional organizations in their disciplines. This participation helps faculty members keep current in their fields and enables them to network and conduct research with colleagues at other institutions, which gives them a broader knowledge and experience base that can contribute to more effective teaching. Most colleges report limited availability of funds for attendance at professional meetings, so faculty often have to finance their own travel and participation in professional organizations.

Core Component 3c

The organization creates effective learning environments.

Inside and outside the classroom, OSU emphasizes programs, develops facilities, and promotes attitudes that support effective learning environments. Various programs offered through Residential Life,3.26 Student Union Activities Board,3.27 multicultural organizations, and numerous other OSU and student organizations promote effective learning in diverse settings. The staff members of these organizations enhance learning environments by producing events and activities that bring together a variety of students. Student engagement is the life of the university.

Respect for Diversity

As evidenced throughout OSU's Strategic Plan, OSU adopts a broad view of diversity in order to encourage an inclusive, supportive, and open environment for all learners. Effective learning environments are created when students feel safe and respected. Interaction between those of diverse backgrounds also enriches the OSU community.

Data provided by the Office of Budget and Asset Management3.28 is instrumental in assessing progress toward a more widely diverse community of learners. OSU's Student Profile3.29 contains the status and trends in the diversity of the institution's student enrollment, by gender, residency, ethnicity, and alternative admission.

Organizationally, OSU has recently undergone changes to enhance the visibility and effectiveness of institutional diversity. A new vice president for institutional diversity position was created, and after a national search, the new vice president begins work at OSU in the summer of 2005. This position takes the place of a previously existing associate vice president for multicultural affairs position. Additionally, the Multicultural Student Center3.30 operates within the Division of Student Affairs. The focus of this center is to counsel individual students and to develop programs/services for students of African American, Native American, Hispanic, and Asian American ethnicity.

Diversity and inclusion are practiced through a myriad of opportunities for students to interact informally and to become meaningfully engaged in out-of-class organizations and activities involving persons of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and interests. Opportunities for student leadership development are plentiful through participation in various multicultural student organizations, such as:

Other opportunities are provided through multicultural programs and services such as:

At OSU-Tulsa the following opportunities are available:

The institution's Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities3.31 protects and assures the rights of freedom of expression, association, and assembly as applied to campus organizations, programs, and activities. These protections encourage and require openness, inclusiveness, and freedom of thought, expression, and exchange among all members of the community and enhance the learning environment. In all, there are more than 300 student clubs and organizations associated with the university.

A number of examples of programs to enhance an environment of support for all learners and the diversity they bring are located within Academic Affairs. Some of these include:

Academic Advisement

OSU advising systems focus on student learning, including the mastery of skills required for academic success. The Stillwater campus does not subscribe to a centralized system of advisement. Rather, each college is responsible for advising its students, generally through the colleges' respective offices of academic student services. Thus, there is some variance among the colleges as to how advising is provided. OSU-Tulsa maintains a central office where advisers are assigned to students from a specific college. In addition, OSU-Tulsa provides advisers on the Tulsa Community College campuses for students who want to transfer to OSU.

Generally, academic advisement is provided both by professional advisers and faculty. In some colleges, but not all, faculty members are provided “release time” for this responsibility. The Office of University Academic Services is responsible for advising first-year students admitted under special conditions. CAS enrolls undecided students.

Students began paying a fee to enhance student academic services in fall 2003. The revenue generated by these fees has allowed colleges to hire additional advisers and expand advising services. Some colleges (CHES and CEAT) have used fee revenues to create Student Success Centers. The mission of the new Becky Steen McCaskill Center for Student Success within the College of Human Environmental Sciences is to elevate academic advising, the first-year experience, leadership development, and career development through highly engaging, purposeful, and integrated programming that educates students to become intentional learners.

In the past two years, an Adviser Training Committee, sponsored by the Division of Academic Affairs, planned and delivered professional development opportunities for advisers. Adviser workshops offered in spring 2005 included an update on regulations for student-athletes and suggestions for advising students from diverse backgrounds.

Learning Outside the Classroom

OSU is committed to a comprehensive and holistic approach in preparing all students, both inside and outside the classroom. OSU's Strategic Plan calls for educational, social, cultural, and recreational opportunities that extend the formal curricular experience in ways that develop engaged, healthy, and productive citizens. Students are encouraged to participate in programs that enhance their leadership skills, encourage volunteerism and service, teach respect for cultural diversity, and promote civic engagement. In addition, OSU is committed to providing its students opportunities to participate in internships as a part of their career development experiences, and to helping students transition into the world of work as smoothly as possible.

Examples of departments, programs, and services that contribute significantly to this vision of student development include:

To elaborate on some of these examples, the university supports study-abroad activities to enhance students' learning outside the classroom. The OSU Study Abroad Office3.35 maintains 61 different foreign institutional linkages to help students from every field of study to learn within foreign settings. Also, the academic colleges, through their outreach units, provide insights into study-abroad opportunities in field-specific areas of business, engineering, agriculture, education, and others. For example, a COE program in Costa Rica supports student teaching in that foreign setting to provide insights into the needs of a changing demographic profile in the United States. In addition, CHES's School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration provides study opportunities in Switzerland and Italy to reflect the demand for international cuisine.

OSU creates and supports a culture of service and opportunities for learning outside the classroom. Many clubs and organizations, including Greek Life3.36 , require community service as a fundamental element of their organizations. This service is monitored and recorded on the students' activity transcripts.

The Student Government Association (SGA) serves the local community by offering two major service days in addition to the hundreds of hours students normally spend involved in community service. These two programs are “The Big Event” and “Into the Streets.” Approximately 2,000 students, faculty, and community members participate in these annual projects. Hundreds of letters from community members express praise and thanks for student service in the community. OSU also participates in civic engagement through such organizations as “Vocal Oklahomans in Civic Engagement” (VOICE) and “Campus Compact.” Service learning opportunities also are provided in every college. In addition, the Student Affairs Division is launching service opportunities dealing with local and area disaster response, and division representatives regularly meet with neighborhood associations, police, and city council members to discuss various issues and concerns.

New Technology for Student Learning

OSU Library's Digital Library Services3.37 was created in 1999. The Digital Library Services facilitates access to electronic information, print materials, and library services to ensure that the information needs of OSU students, faculty, and staff are met, regardless of their location. This mission is accomplished through state-of-the-art technologies, library instruction, and document delivery services. In spring 2005, the unit began a pilot project to provide digital copies of library materials for graduate students and faculty members.

OSU students pay two fees to support the library. The Library Resource fee pays for the purchase, upgrade, maintenance, and replacement of computer hardware and software to support the changing and expanding electronic environment and the personnel needed to run the library systems. The Library Electronic Resource fee supports the purchase of software, site licenses, and personnel to support student access to the library and provide more information sources.

The Division of Student Affairs is currently developing a comprehensive website for university services that focuses on student success. The vast array of information from a variety of OSU sites about study skills, learning techniques, time management, stress-control, life organization, and other topics related to student success will be identified and organized on the new website to enhance student access to such information.

Also, outreach units in the colleges, the Institute for Teaching and Learning Excellence, and The Center for Instructional Technologies at OSU-Tulsa assist in the delivery of distance-learning courses.

Core Component 3d

The organization's learning resources support student learning and effective teaching.

A university-wide survey indicates that many learning resources, including computer labs with technical support and specialized software, library resources and services, and learning partnerships, are available to and utilized by students and faculty to enhance learning and teaching.

The funds generated from the Academic Facilities Fee will be used to support maintenance, renovation, and construction of academic and other facilities, such as computer laboratories. The need for additional academic space is a function of increased enrollment. The funds from this fee will not only allow for new space, but also ensure that the existing classroom space will continue to provide a positive environment for student learning and effective teaching.

Technology Availability

OSU's numerous computer labs and library are available many hours a week to ensure access to resources that support learning and teaching. Computer laboratories are generally accessible for student use every day of the week. On weekdays, computer labs are accessible an average of 15 hours per day, and some labs are open 24 hours. On weekends, computer labs are generally accessible for longer periods on Sundays than on Saturdays.

Special learning centers and research laboratories are accessible during the week generally when buildings are open, which is typically from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Many are accessible to students and faculty beyond these hours and on weekends for those who have authorized access.

Learning Resources Evaluation Methods

Efforts are being made, using both formal and informal means, to provide administrators with insight regarding learning resource utilization. A common formal method of gathering such data is through evaluation forms for courses that use learning resource facilities.

In the SSB, satisfaction surveys provide insight into learning resource utilization. CEAT reports that laboratory usage is monitored in terms of seats occupied by the time of the day and night. CHES utilizes Senior Exit Surveys that include questions regarding the use of learning resources such as computer labs and other spaces.

Additionally, the use of learning resources is included in program accreditation reviews. For example, the director of the OSU Writing Center3.38 annually assesses its use. Informal methods of evaluating learning resources include visiting with students and faculty to gain feedback and periodic observations of activity. In two cases, it was reported that no resources or efforts had been made to evaluate resource use. One reason for this lack of evaluation was that personnel were already “stretched to the limit,” and thus, the funds necessary to evaluate resource use had not been allocated.

The effectiveness of learning resources is commonly assessed via efforts by a college committee composed of students and faculty. Examples include SSB's Technology and Instructional Resource Committee and the student technology fee committees in COE, CEAT, CHES, and CAS. At some facilities such as the OSU Library, a suggestion box provides a means to gather information regarding effectiveness. Data are also gathered via formal course evaluations, workshop evaluation forms, and senior exit surveys/interviews, as well as some satisfaction surveys.

Helping Students, Staff, and Faculty Use Technology

Preliminary analysis of survey data reveals that learning resource facilities provide individualized sessions, special courses, workshops, half- and single-day training sessions, and specific orientations in using their technology. COE's Educational Technology Center,3.39 in conjunction with the college faculty development committee, has sponsored a series of faculty and staff workshops and seminars regarding the use of particular computer hardware and software and internet course management programs. Specialized support for students, faculty, and staff has been provided for specific learning resource facilities. For example, a one-hour photonics course in the use of Raman spectroscopy technology was offered to faculty and students.

IT provides ongoing training for faculty members and their graduate assistants in using technology for teaching. Examples of software and groupware applications addressed include Blackboard, WebCT, Streaming Video, and Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft FrontPage and Dreamweaver for web page development. This center provides one-on-one tutoring (at the request of the faculty member) and group workshops. Notice of available training is e-mailed to all faculty members on the OSU-Stillwater campus. Surveys are periodically conducted via the internet to identify training needs and preferred training formats. It can be preliminarily concluded that the organization is implementing activities that support students, staff, and faculty in using technology effectively.

Support for Learning Resources

Preliminary data analysis reveals mixed results in regard to whether computer labs, research labs, libraries, and other learning resources are adequately staffed and supported. The size of the facility seems to make a difference in whether effective staffing and support is provided. Users of smaller laboratories reported being satisfied with staffing, while users of larger facilities reported a need for either more staff or more funding to increase staffing hours. However, the amount of data regarding this question was limited.

The implementation of the Student Technology Fee has seemingly made a positive impact in the degree of support for learning resource facilities. However, several survey comments expressed a need for greater support for staffing, maintenance and repair of equipment, and more space to provide certain services. More data are needed to arrive at more reliable conclusions regarding whether OSU is providing effective support for its learning resources.

Learning Partnerships

Many systems and structures at OSU enable partnerships that enhance student learning and strengthen teaching effectiveness. For example, in CAS, grants with the Undergraduate Division of the National Science Foundation have equipped facilities in Zoology, Chemistry, and Geography, thereby enhancing teaching effectiveness. In addition, the School of Journalism and Broadcasting has secured equipment gifts that benefit students via industry partnerships.

CASNR, with the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC), sponsors regional and national teaching improvement workshops.

SSB hosts several events with its partners that enhance student learning. During “CEO Day,” CEOs of major corporations spend a day with students and faculty. SSB Associates regularly visit classes as guest speakers, and SSB Outreach works with partners to sponsor the Tulsa Business Forum and the Oklahoma City Executive Management Briefing series for faculty and students. SSB provides internship classes for students in most fields, especially in accounting, finance, and marketing. Among SSB graduate programs, the MBA, TCOM, and MIS graduate programs emphasize internships.

In CEAT, examples of internal partnerships are oversight committees for courses taken by students from various disciplines. ENSC-prefix courses have an oversight committee with membership from all programs whose students take those courses. This approach is used for math, chemistry, physics, and statistics courses. Faculties from the departments offering these courses meet with the committees periodically to discuss methods for improving the effectiveness of the courses. Similarly, faculty members work with faculty from other higher education institutions to ensure course content is appropriate for transfer credit.

In CHES, external industry internships have been established with partners for all undergraduate students. Service learning community projects are required in several courses. The College Alumni Board provides input for enhancing instruction, and various advisory boards provide external partnerships. Internship scholarships help students complete internships at distant locations, including with international partners. Endowed professorships allow for distinguished visiting professors to work with students and faculty. The college's Outreach Office and the Gerontology Institute3.40 co-sponsor the annual Partnerships in Aging Conference in Tulsa that brings together faculty, students, and external audiences. A grant from the National Science Foundation, with matching funds provided by OSU, allowed purchase of industry-grade textile testing equipment to upgrade the science-based textile curriculum within the Department of Design, Housing, and Merchandising.

COE's Education Technology unit works in partnership with the Faculty Support Center to provide training and services for faculty. The college's Star Schools Program brings together COE and CAS faculty with officials from the Oklahoma Department of Education to enhance educational opportunities for practitioners.

Preliminary data indicate that OSU's systems and structures enable partnerships that enhance student learning and teaching effectiveness. Survey data also show that many current innovations enhance student learning and strengthen teaching effectiveness through systems and structures that result in internal and/or external partnerships. For example, the SSB Trading Floor3.41 provides a state-of-the-art computer facility that simulates the New York Stock Exchange and exposes students to the latest models and software in risk management. COE's Science Education program partnered with NASA to provide a live link-up with astronauts on the International Space Station to give students personal contact with space science and enhance their learning. CAS's Crystal Growth Lab3.42 is one of the few crystal-growth operations in the United States. It greatly aids the Department of Physics and both internal and external collaborators in acquiring external funding for graduate and undergraduate research and education. It has worked directly with government laboratories, private industry, and other universities. The Statewide NMR Facility3.43 (housed in the Chemistry Department) also works with professionals from 24 Oklahoma colleges, the University of Oklahoma, and other scientific groups.

OSU's outreach efforts also exemplify its commitment to student learning and effective teaching. Outreach units deliver on-going learning opportunities to non-traditional students through weekend and distance programs. OSU's external constituents have said that they want educational programs delivered via the latest technologies. OSU has responded by implementing these technologies and providing training for faculty users. Numerous distance learning academic graduate and undergraduate courses are available to OSU's constituents.

It can be preliminarily concluded that OSU's systems and structures enable innovations that enhance student learning and teaching effectiveness.

Budgets Reflect Teaching, Learning Priorities

Survey data indicate that the improvement of teaching and learning holds priority status in most OSU colleges. Most colleges report that approximately 40% of their budgets are expended on activities related to teaching and learning. The general university and each college expend student technology fees to enhance learning resources. College budgets vary widely in regard to the amount of money being allocated toward the improvement of teaching and learning, but all colleges report a priority in this area

Criterion Three Conclusion


  1. OSU has made major strides in campus-wide assessment since the last accreditation cycle, and assessment has a very strong and growing presence.
  2. Under the guidance of the Assessment Council, faculty members are primarily responsible for establishing, implementing, and evaluating assessment.
  3. Despite short- and long-term budget issues on campus, OSU provides excellent teaching due to numerous factors, including self-motivated faculty members.
  4. OSU has strong student union and campus life organizations that provide a wide array of curricular and extra-curricular activities to develop students into complete people.
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The OSU seal's three symbolic sides represent the instiutution's mission: instruction, research, and extension

Challenges: Actions for Going Forward

  1. Attain 100% participation in the annual assessment cycle.
    ACTION: Demonstrate the importance of meaningful program review including the review of assessment results when making budget allocations.
  2. Continue to improve resources for faculty members to ensure adequately compensated teachers.
    ACTION: Focus public attention on the academic needs of the campus and cultivate funding sources that are not directed to athletics.
  3. Upgrade classrooms to make technology available in all classrooms.
    ACTION:Use Student Technology Fee monies for projects that directly impact the classroom and effective teaching and learning.
  4. Overcome the widely held and anecdotally supported belief that great teachers cannot be promoted without equally strong research, whereas research “stars” can rise through the ranks regardless of teaching quality.
    ACTION: Demonstrate that teaching has an equal footing with research in tenure and promotion decisions.
  5. Maintain the balance among the three symbolic sides of the OSU seal — instruction, research, and extension.
    ACTION: Do not allow budget pressures to prioritize research to the detriment of the other two activities.


Criterion Three

Table of Contents

Criterion Three: Student Learning and Effective Teaching


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