DEFINING INSTITUTIONAL PURPOSES AND ACHIEVING EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES
This standard includes the definition of objectives and educational purposes that CETYS University expects to develop in its students. It also includes the institutional learning outcomes, effectiveness indicators, diversity achievement outcomes, and recommendations from Team WASC relating to this standard. The following report was written by a team of academics (faculty and administrators) from the three campuses of CETYS University, who, through a series of meetings, produced answers for each element in the effectiveness and educational evidence phase.
(CFR’s 1.1, 1.2, 1.3)
1.1 The institution has a Published Mission Statement
The mission of CETYS University is to contribute to the integrated education and formation of persons with the moral and intellectual capacity necessary to participate in the country’s economic, social and cultural improvement.
The institutional purposes are highlighted in three strategic lines:
- Strengthening of the educational model.
- To consolidate the student body.
- To operate with sound finances.
The institutional purposes are broken down into twelve strategic objectives that are part of the CETYS 2010 Plan (1) and its Vision. (1) (76).
In order to strengthen the academic structure of the institution, and following up on one of the recommendations by the WASC Commission, heads of schools, curricular development, planning, and academic effectiveness, and a group of faculty members defined the Institutional Learning Outcomes (16) (MR13). These outcomes are part of an institutional model of learning measurement (3) which has been in development by the vice-president of academic affairs and academic staff, and with faculty participation.
The institution has published its educational objectives.
1.2 The Institutional Learning Outcomes are:
- Clear and effective communication: By the end of the academic program, students will be able to clearly express their ideas in written, oral, and visual form, using appropriate disciplinary and professional language, in Spanish.
- Lifelong learning (to learn to learn, to learn to do, continuous improvement, and entrepreneurial attitude). By the end of the academic program, students will be able to gather and analyze information, independently and in groups, which will allow them to identify opportunities, apply knowledge and solve problems.
- Critical thinking and values (to learn to be and coexist): By the end of the academic program, students will develop and demonstrate logical and experiential thinking within the framework of the values of CETYS, which will be reflected in the student environment and their commitment to social development and the overall environment.
- Openness toward cultural diversity (to learn to coexist, internationalization): By the end of the academic program, students will demonstrate knowledge, understanding, and tolerance of other cultures and shall apply their abilities in establishing human relations, manifesting respect and diversity.
Without a doubt, the translation of the Institutional Educational Model into a set of learning outcomes has been presented with sufficient clarity so that faculty can include the learning outcomes in their course design and teaching. However, this approach is new to CETYS University faculty and as such presents a challenge for them. Progress so far indicates the need to develop learning assessment instruments and the definition of the evidence under which such instruments function. This implies an effort to publish and communicate these Institutional Learning Outcomes to the entire faculty of CETYS University. An identified area of opportunity, under this new perspective of assessment-based education, is that the leadership of the Schools and Colleges has assumed their role in undertaking these tasks.
Following up on another recommendation made by the WASC Commission (MR6) relating to learning English as a second language, in accordance with the institution’s aspiration, an English language learning outcome that applies to all undergraduate academic programs has been formulated: “Clear and effective communication: By the end of the academic program, students will be able to clearly express their ideas in written, oral, and visual form, using appropriate disciplinary and professional language, in English.”
Clear and effective communication in the English language became the centerpiece of the institution’s international dimension, which has been part of the Educational Model of CETYS University since the final years of the last century. In the academic programs that were designed in the year 2000, it was explicitly stated that our alumni would be bilingual. Toward this end, the Advanced Communication in English course was included, which is part of the general requirements section of the curriculum; therefore, all undergraduate students must complete this course by the time they finish their fifth semester. The learning outcome was that students learn to express themselves in public and be able to make presentations in English. The requirement for this course is 500 points or better (out of 677 points) on the paper-based TOEFL.
This course was accompanied by additional support efforts, such as offering ESL classes designed to improve students’ understanding of the language. At first, these courses were paid for by the students but now they are free of charge.
These actions provided positive results but did not meet the expectations of University President, Enrique Blancas, and IENAC (the Board of Trustees), so the strategy was changed at the institutional level when the academic programs were redesigned in 2004. A new pre-requisite was established for the Advanced Communication in English course. Students must complete a five-module ESL program, where each module consists of 150 hours of instruction. Also, starting in the student’s fourth semester, 40% of classes must be taught in English; as necessary, foreign professors will be hired and efforts will be made so that a high percentage of the required reading will be in English.
This program has not been without its challenges, mainly because the faculty at CETYS University is not prepared to teach in English. Nevertheless, there has been significant progress as documented in the corresponding exhibits (48).
More important than the outcomes achieved to date is the fact that the institution recognizes that success in this area demands a re-evaluation of the practices and mechanisms currently in place. The main challenge is to make students aware and understand the necessity and benefits of learning English for both their academic and professional lives. There are still cases where students, for personal reasons, decide to postpone acquiring the English language, which produces setbacks in the completion of their academic programs. The academic leadership has programmed courses taught in English, but the limited number of bilingual Mexican teachers, in and out of the institution, has made it difficult for that effort to succeed as initially planned. Currently, department heads are doubling their efforts to integrate a fixed group of courses to be taught in English, to be implemented for CETYS students as well as academic exchange students.
1.3 The Institution’s Leadership Creates and Sustains a Leadership System
The CETYS Strategic Development Plan 2010 (1) has a ten-year life span, however, it takes into account revisions and adjustments in light of experience and changing realities. The Strategic Development Plan is important considering that different working plans stem from it, as well as other specific actions at different management levels. These work plans and specific actions are expressed, semester by semester, in the form of reports, and effectiveness and achievement evidence, which lead to appropriate recommendations. Based on these reports, the University President addresses the Board where he explains the advancements, achievements, outcomes, and challenges of the development plan (80).
(CFR’s: 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9)
CETYS University is a solid and honest institution that acts in accordance with its principles and purposes. These are shaped into concrete educational actions for the benefit of the members of the community that the University serves.
1.4 Academic Freedom
The institution serves as a forum for all of its members who wish to freely express their ideas, whether they are of a political, religious, or cultural in nature. (4).
This is reflected in an academic environment of professional development and constant modernization, through several projects and events created by students, faculty, departments, and other units that accept recommendations in order to improve their processes.
Professors take charge of their academic freedom by participating in the design and revision of academic programs, as subject matter experts (SME) and/or as curriculum development managers (CDM), and in the design of their own academic courses (#34) and their production (course program, verification sheets of the Professor and compensation System (SERP #30). Professors also demonstrate their academic freedom by writing and publishing their work, and participating in and/or by organizing academic events (72).
The institutional and academic program learning outcomes have been designed in a way that does not affect professors’ academic freedom. The expectation is that through periodic revisions of learning outcomes, adjustments can be made in order to enhance student learning and allow professors to identify and implement a variety of teaching methods.
CETYS University, acting within the framework of its mission and educational philosophy, has an open admissions and hiring policy. This means that any person can apply for admission or for a job without fear of discrimination in terms of gender, socio-economic status, ethnic background, national origin, or religious beliefs. Furthermore, CETYS University provides cultural development opportunities within the institution for its employees and students. (5)
True to its commitment to diversity, the institution is constantly developing relationships and agreements with other universities in different parts of the world, which provide the opportunity for student exchange programs that promote international cultural diversity. Also, academic programs, especially graduate programs, include visiting professors from different nations and cultures (6).
Also, students with families who cannot afford to pay for tuition fees can access different financial aid programs that are available to them (7).
As an academic institution, CETYS University is autonomous in its decision-making, therefore, no political party, religious group, or economic entity can influence, in a decisive manner, the institutional path, as stated in the IENAC founding articles (8). In addition, from the academic perspective and in accordance with the humanist vocation that it follows, especially in the Value System, universal thought is advocated (9).
For this purpose, collegiate organisms and an academic-administrative structure that allows joint decisions to be made pertaining to academic programs and curriculum have been established. CETYS University expresses its ideas in several printed and electronic media (72), for example, Arquetipos magazine and Economic Boom newspaper include articles from different areas, which express a variety of opinions regarding economic and social problems facing different publics of the CETYS community (4).
1.7 Academic Programs can be Completed in a Timely Fashion
The graduation requirements for all academic programs are clearly stated in the documents that are necessary in order to obtain a REVOE. These requirements employ a series of academic and administrative processes that allow students to complete their studies within the established time frames – books by SEBS (10) (SEBS published a manual that describes the process to obtain a REVOE) (10).
An example of such processes is the Social Service System (11), which links social service with a general requirement course for all academic programs and students.
Another example is the scheduling of required and elective courses in every school term, courses that are key for students to complete their academic programs. (Policies and procedures for the organization of schedules) (12).
Due in part to the actions stated above, 89% of students in the cohort scheduled for graduation in the 2007 ceremony were able to participate. It is expected that all of the remaining undergraduate students in this cohort will complete their studies by the June 2008 ceremony. (Undergraduate Curricular Model Instructor’s Guide #9).
Communication Policies With Students
Even though students identify their program coordinators as the medium through which they can express their concerns and complaints, the new organizational structure (2) seeks to unify these processes through the academic programs coordination, which will now operate on all three campuses, not just in Mexicali. This is the most widely used medium, but no formal evidence exists, which is why policies and procedures to follow up on complaints and grievances from students, faculty, and administrative personnel are being developed. (evidence of this project #78).
In order to identify problem areas, the institution has conducted satisfaction surveys (32) which have indirectly served as a way to collect student complaints; the section of the survey of the professor’s evaluation (SERP) is designed so that students can freely express their opinions regarding areas of concern. There is also an end-of-academic program workshop where students highlight what they expected from CETYS, but may have not received. (End-of-academic program workshop #77).
1.8 The Institution Exhibits Integrity in its Operations
The integrity of CETYS University is reflected in the fact that it is a not-for-profit organization, and the management of its finances is clear and transparent, which is reflected in the Founding Articles of IENAC (8) and the General Statute (79).
In order to live up to its commitments, the institution aids its students by providing scholarships, for which resources are obtained through fundraising campaigns (67) such as raffles (67), and other support organisms, including the government. In addition, CETYS University channels its surpluses, when there are surpluses, to cover academic, infrastructural and technical needs, as well as financial aid for students (7).
The allocation and management of resources can be further understood through the University President’s reports (80), which are audited before they are brought before the Board of Trustees and the Annual Assembly of IENC for its approval.
In addition, CETYS University is audited by the Secretaria de Hacienda (Internal Revenue System), INFONAVIT, the government, social security, and educational authorities. CETYS is obligated to provide evidence to donors regarding the application of their contributions (#80).
1.9 Our Commitment to Honest Communication with the Accrediting Commission
CETYS University is fully committed to clear and transparent communication with the accrediting commission, pledging to follow the accreditation guidelines and regulations and to receiving ongoing advice by the assigned WASC counselor.
The institution has been making a sincere effort to integrate all of the recommendations made as a result of all prior phases in the accreditation process, as well as to express its commitment to provide all required information as transparently and clearly as possible throughout the accreditation process and during the site visits of the WASC Commission, which was manifested in the letter of intent sent to WASC (14).
This report has explained how CETYS University is accomplishing, following up on, and implementing through concrete applications the ideals stated in its mission, vision, and educational model, and how these measures are translated into specific actions regarding its students and the community.
This work emphasizes the identification, construction, and communication of the institutional learning outcomes, including understanding the English language which is identified as an effort that is undertaken by the corresponding academic entities, so that the institution as a whole may reach its high educational expectations in the different academic programs that it offers. Through its systematic leadership, reinforced by academic freedom and based in principles of diversity and autonomy, the institution will contribute to its students’ successful completion of their academic programs so that they may become persons who are capable of contributing in an important manner to the social, economic, and cultural development of the country.