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ACHIEVING EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES THROUGH CORE FUNCTIONS
CETYS University reviews and revises its academic programs periodically in response to its mission, as well as the requirements of the Secretaría de Educación Pública (SEP), SEBS, and Mexican accreditation bodies. The faculty is the main entity in the review and revision process. Their involvement and participation is made possible through specialized academic groups led by CDMs (Curricular Development Manager) and the SMEs (Subject Matter Expert) (70). Additionally, the institution is actively promotes co-curricular activities related to its core values. Such activities enrich student learning and development.
In this report, the following questions are addressed: What have we done? Why have we done it this way? How do we evaluate what we are doing? How are we looking to the future? What are our areas of opportunity? Additionally, we discuss the actions that have been implemented in response to the recommendations made following the site visit during the capacity phase.
TEACHING AND LEARNING
(CFRs: 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 2.7)
The Academic Programs Review Process
2.1 and 2.7 Academic programs are reviewed and revised every four years and such reviews and revisions are made in a systematic manner. The faculty, school directors, and the curricular development leadership have undertaken this project in semester cycles based on the academic reform of 2004. There is an official document that establishes institutional policies for these activities (Institutional Policy for the evaluation of academic programs and new program design #71).
Curricular redesign at the undergraduate level has generated work groups that up until now have been working informally and have defined the elements in terms of content, activities, and learning outcomes for all academic programs, based on the Institutional Educational Model and the graduation requirements.
- The Academic Reform focused mainly on the undergraduate program by modifying its curricular structure through a design that took into account three general education axes, and as such making evident the humanistic education of the educational model of CETYS.
- A syllabus design methodology was developed which focuses on learning and establishes what every student from every academic program must learn to comply with the graduate profile of such program.
- Since its beginning, the Academic Reform project looked and is looking to incorporate the Blackboard platform to deliver the syllabuses.
- The Academic Reform has entered an evaluation phase that will be strongly impacted by the assessment culture that the WASC accreditation process is leading us to carry out. We are already witnessing that impact on the preparation of the Institutional Learning Outcomes and the Academic Programs.
- On its own, the Graduate College has undertaken curricular review that has not been directly linked to the Academic Reform. It has been carried out with different logistics, and the emphasis has been on reducing the length of time of the courses and the school periods; at the same time the academic supply was broadened to offer more concentration areas in each master’s degree program. For example: the master’s degree in Engineering went from 60 to 35 hours. The school periods were modified from 15 to 10 weeks, and all of the master’s degree programs were standardized to 14 courses. Every master’s degree program has at least 4 concentration areas, and some have up to 11 areas which are activated according to the demand and the supply capacity of the Graduate College.
- Two common aspects that both curricular efforts demonstrate are: 1) education centered in learning, and 2) the use of the Black Board platform. Nonetheless, the undergraduate programs demonstrate greater evidence of the preparation of the learning outcomes and an alignment between the faculty evaluation and student learning.
- Now that the Assessment culture has arrived at CETYS, there will be more common areas between the two curricular design and review efforts because the institutional learning outcomes apply to all the graduates of CETYS, and not only to those of the undergraduate programs. Also, the definition of learning outcome by academic program has also been extended to the master’s and doctoral degree programs, and this will be another common area between both efforts.
In short, even though both efforts coincide in time they have a different reason for being. Nonetheless, it is evident that the experiences earned in the Curricular Reform have served to facilitate the curricular redesign in the graduate programs; in particular the design of the master’s degree programs. The doctoral programs have followed a preparation path totally different. Their curricular design has been enriched by the participation of professors from other universities which also have contributed their experience to the running of these programs. The most recent example is the doctoral degree in education and values.
In response to our assessment model of learning outcome requirements, certain areas of expertise are in the process of being defined and formalized so that curricular mapping and annual learning assessment plans can be defined and implemented by faculty, thus enabling systematic learning assessment by semesters or years (35). (Academic Program Documentation Format).
In order to review the current academic programs and create new areas of specialization, meetings with the business sector have taken place as well as consultation with employers. This has led us to revise the academic programs development vision in terms of resources, infrastructure, and faculty development and training. (Employee follow-up surveys #25).
Another important factor in the academic programs review and revision process is the evaluation outcomes of students in organism such as CENEVAL and from testing through the EGEL (31). Testing outcomes for students who participate in programs that require external examinations are taken into account when programs are reviewed, as are the guidelines of assessment bodies that have accredited CETYS programs (and the guidelines of programs under review for accreditation) (55).
2.2 Given the cultural differences in how México and the United States approach higher education, the WASC Commission decided, in a meeting held with the University’s President on July 2, 2007 in San Diego, CA (#37 - minute July 2nd meeting) that special considerations by WASC would need to be made relative to General Education Requirements.
2.3 The institution has resources devoted to assisting students with their information literacy and with their information searches, as stated in the graduation requirements of academic programs as well as through the diversity of learning strategies of course programs that are used by the faculty in their teaching (33) . Even though there is evidence for this area, there is room for improvement in the use of information resources; improvement could be achieved by a program specifically designed toward this end (#38 – report on the use of magazines and databases). Thus, there is a need to systematically display, through the curricula, the institutional learning outcome that has been defined to develop continuous learning and the capacity to conduct research. Also, within the library’s strategic plan (59, 59-A), the development of learning outcomes related to the student’s ability to search for information is being contemplated. The learning assessment process will help gather the necessary evidence to evaluate the effectiveness and competence in the use of these resources.
2.4 Development of Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOS)(MR13).
The WASC accreditation process, as well as the various seminars and workshops that representatives of the institution have attended, have led CETYS to acknowledge the need to develop and implement a Learning AssessmentInstitutional Model (3) that fits the needs and profile of the institution.
The Learning Outcomes (SLOs), which constitute the fundamental elements for this Learning Assessment, are not new to CETYS, since as of the Curricular Reform of 2004, such outcomes have been constantly and systematically defined and worked on, although merely at a Course Program level. Throughout its curricula, CETYS University has developed the following concepts: curricular goals and generic profile of graduating students (Instructor Guide). Both concepts are in tune with the mission, educational model, and official stipulations of the SEBS, though we understand that according to WASC standards we had to transform them into institutional learning outcomes (ILOs).
In addition, we identified the need to define Learning Outcomes (SLOs) for the Academic Programs, which indicate the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that every student graduating from a Bachelor’s or Postgraduate Program must possess upon concluding the respective Program.
The basic references regarding the definition of the Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs) are the Mission and Vision of Plan 2010, which is the Institutional Educational Model and the Value System fostered by CETYS University.
The Academic Vice-presidency was responsible for defining the Institutional Learning Outcomes, and did so through the director’s offices of Colleges, Schools, Curricular Development, Planning, and Academic Effectiveness, and through a select group of faculty from the Social Sciences and Humanities areas. The work was relatively direct, since the generic graduate profiles –the same for all programs– that were prepared by the academic bodies that undertook the review and revision of the 2004 curricula, contain much of the elements required to create an ILO.
(MR17). The final outcome was the definition of 4 Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs) that are applicable to the Bachelor’s Academic Programs and the Graduate Academic Programs (16). Subsequently, work has been done on the Curricular Mapping of these Institutional Learning Outcomes in the Academic Programs offered by the institution.
An end result of such work has been the Institutional Educational Model, translating into a set of observable or measurable learning outcomes whose definition is deemed to be sufficiently broad, although at once present the specificity deemed necessary so that the instructors at CETYS may include them in their teaching practice and in designing the courses they teach, as they have been doing so with the nuances and learning expressions, as well as with the substantial features of the graduate profile.
At present, the challenge lies not in training the professoriate in the development of curricular design or didactic strategies for classroom purposes, which has been taking place on a regular basis under the activities of the Programa Integral de Formación Docente (Comprehensive Teacher Training Program), but rather in defining the part that corresponds to the assessment of Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs), and to encourage greater professoriate discussion that delves into the manner in which this assessment takes places and on the role faculty play in facilitating student learning.
Development or Learning Outcomes for Undergraduate and Graduate Academic Programs (MR13) (MR19)
CETYS University has carried out the review and revision of its Undergraduate and Graduate Academic Programs as per cycles of approximately 4 years. On the other hand, upon conclusion of each semester, the professoriate has carried out the review and update of such Programs; however, these reviews and revisions were not carried out in a systematic or standardized manner. The formal and systematic review and revision of all Bachelor Level Course Programs began as of the Curricular Reform of 2004, whereby the Learning Outcomes (SLOs) required for such Course Programs were established (33 and 34).
Currently, what has been developed at the level of a Course Program is being readdressed so that a set of Learning Outcomes (SLOs) at an Academic Level are defined based on the Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs). Groups of instructors led by Colleges have been assembled. The work of such groups has focused on defining the particular Missions, Educational Goals, and Learning Outcomes (SLOs) of the Academic Program in which they participate, as well as defining the Curricular Mapping thereof and the identification of evidences that support the learning achievement (35).
It is worthy to point out that at present some Academic Programs are organized by departments, and are housed within schools or colleges. In the colleges where the formal organization into departments has not been possible, it is important to point out that the groups of instructors from the various campuses have concurred so as to work in preparing the learning outcomes for their academic programs. Although it is true that we must seek to structure into departments, we do have sufficient evidence that shows proof of the collegiate work carried out by such entities. (Collegiate work minutes 81, 82).
(MR9) A group of graduate faculty is presently assembled; their main focus has been on defining the Missions, Educational Goals, and Learning Outcomes (SLOs) of the various Graduate Academic Programs, as well as their Curricular Mapping and identification of evidences supporting the learning achievement. The work that has been done to date has been shared with the group of faculty, both internal and external, who are currently teaching in the Masters Degree Academic Programs so they may be widely known and incorporated. (34)
Identified as important challenges are professoriate involvement, greater discussion on how learning takes place, understanding the role instructors play in facilitating learning, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and lastly, the identification of better practices and strengths in their their endeavors that may be shared so as to achieve better outcomes inside and outside of the classroom. For such purposes, several talks and workshops have been held with bachelor and graduate level instructors, in which they are encouraged to reflect on this new paradigm.
Professoriate involvement in the process of revising the academic programs is of paramount importance, and more so within the context of a learning-centered paradigm, and under a learning assessment model; thus there is a need to redefine the teaching endeavor so this may occur, and doing so regarding faculty participation in endeavors such as the following:
- Instruction: Definition of the timelines and supplemental resources for the pedagogical work of the instructor, both inside and out of the classroom, so he/she may focus on accomplishing the learning outcomes, and seeking for this to be the chief focus of his/her work, so as to continuously revitalize the educational process in favor of enhancing the academic program student learning.
- Research: Definition of the timelines and ways in which each instructor shall dedicate part of his/her time to engage in research projects, as well as the pertinent and necessary supplemental resources under the structure and scope of the institutional research model and along the lines of research the instructor so defines. Such processes favor the unfolding of the academic program and the review thereof when students are systematically integrated, whereby students increasingly come together in the undertaking and development of research projects whose transcendence may and should lead to innovations becoming integrating elements in the further development of the various disciplines.
- Academic Advocacy: Definition of the timelines and supplemental
resources, and ways in which the instructor shall support, or even lead all projects and processes which are not included in the previous headings, though they are part of the daily endeavors of the institution. One of such endeavor entails the process of continuously reflecting on the vision for the development of academic programs, considering resources, infrastructure, professoriate, pedagogy, etc.
Also identified as an area for improvement is the need for the new organizational structures to encourage and facilitate the definition of timelines, supplemental resources, and means, so that each member of the faculty has a clear and definition of his/her participation under each of the three headings above, always understanding that all three have a favorable impact in the review process of the academic programs.
Moreover, the need to extensively elucidate the Institutional Assessment Model(3) is acknowledged; furthermore, the definition of the learning assessment outcomes by academic program is required.
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