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2.5 Student Performance Outcomes in the Undergraduate Academic Programs (MR9).
With the Academic Reform of 2004, an effort has been made to integrate evaluations whose primary aim in furthering and measuring the knowledge, skills, abilities, behaviors, and values of our students, that is, learning that has been oriented towards the knowing-to-do, knowing to coexist, knowing to learn, and towards the development of attitudes and values that will lead the way for students to become successful professionals, aside from also becoming good, contributing citizens.
In order to provide feedback to the curricular review and revision process of our academic programs, information on the learning acquired through the general knowledge exams administered by the CENEVAL (Centro Nacional de Evaluación) has been continuously collected, through the corresponding EGEL (Examen General de Licenciatura). It has become mandatory to take this exam in the last semester for the Undergraduate Programs for which the exam exists. It has been observed that in general terms, students from CETYS University score above the national average, and in some cases they excel in the EGEL Exam; however, there are some academic programs in which the students have not been able to earn such favorable results, and it its thus necessary to assess why this has taken place, and to take appropriate measures to rectify the situation. These programs are: business, accounting, marketing, engineering, psychology. (31)
There is also evidence of the solid academic performance of students currently enrolled (25); however, the collection and integration of all this information needs to be systematized so as to become part of the Modelo Institucional de Medición del Aprendizaje (Learning Assessment Institutional Model) (3).
Important activities regarding student performance entail a personalized follow-up for those students who are admitted on a conditional basis due to the score they earned on their admission exam, personalized follow-up of students with low GDA or who have failed a course, and the tutor program. These initiatives were previously carried out by the areas know as the CEA, or Centro de Enseñanza-Aprendizaje (“Teaching-Learning Center”) and the DAPA, or Desarrollo Académico y Personalizado del Alumno (“Student Academic and Personalized Development”) but seeking to standardize good practices at a system level, these activities have now become integrated into the CEDEs, or Centro de Desarrollo Estudiantil (“Student Development Center”), one existing in Mexicali and another one at Tijuana/Ensenada (Coast Zone) (39). (MR14).
Personalized follow-up with students with academic problems, students that were accepted on a conditional basis, as well as with students with low GPA and/or students who failed courses has resulted in a decrease in the percentage of students who have been dropped from the Institution due to poor academic standing. (MR9).
While concrete actions regarding the monitoring of student academic performance are in place, it is necessary to systematize the collection and organization of information through the new structure of the CEDE, as well as the way in which such information will be communicated and utilized, for example, in such a way that it may be used in the evaluation and decision making process regarding academic programs and curricula.
2.6 Student Performance Results in the Graduate Academic Programs (MR9) (MR18).
Prior to the 2004, the graduate programs were divided into two broad areas: Administration and Engineering. In each area the corresponding Director would carry out an individual assessment process of the course assignments completed by students regarding the level of depth, assignment styles, assignment types, and also held meetings summoning graduate level instructors that were under his/her charge so as to inform them on how such assignments should be undertaken.
In Administration, most instructors were foreigners, while most Engineering instructors were full-time CETYS faculty. This led to differences in styles and forms of presentation in the assignments of Administration students resulting from the variety of foreign instructors they had, while in the case of Engineering, since most instructors were from CETYS, assignments were more uniform in style and depth.
The outcome stemming from these two options was beneficial. On the one hand, Administration students expressed that the perspective of a foreign instructor helped them to better visualize their assignments and work, and that in most cases they were applicable to companies where they were actually working, a fact that was corroborated with interviews that the program director carried out with the employers of these students, whereby it was identified that students had a broad perspective towards analyzing and solving problems in both their work and school assignments. On the other hand, there was a greater uniformity in the work style and degree of demand in the Engineering programs stemming from the fact that instructors were local and operated with well-defined styles, whereby their class projects were targeted at needs of the students’ companies. They also were able to achieve in-depth application of their Masters topics, with the convenience of having a adviser-instructor nearby; this led to the Engineering students doing work that was focused on solving technical problems, thus the instructor would play the role of guide and advisor.
As of year 2004, work at the Graduate level began to be carried out under a new structure and way of operating; the best from the two previous versions of
student work and assignments was rescued, for example, the rate of foreign instructors to CETYS instructors became 50/50; depending upon the nature of the program, the percentage of foreign instructors may be slightly higher, such as in the case of Law (40).
Students must prove that they have acquired the knowledge and skills set out in their Masters academic program (34) by developing an application to a real situation, which has to be prepared at the final stage of their program; that is why all Masters programs have an Application Project class assigned to them for their final quarter. In this course, students are taught by a research professor that may be foreign or in-house so as to be able to solve a Masters-related problem. The instructor is responsible for leading the students along an appropriate research methodology, while students are responsible for approaching an instructor-advisor, whether from CETYS, of some other institution or industry, so that he/she may act as the student content advisor. These application projects have been in place since 2006, and uniform results have been achieved for proof of learning accomplishments; as an example of the quality of these projects, we have several instances of students whose papers have been accepted for presentation at academic conferences. The projects carried out by students have been geared towards strategic lines the institution detects as priorities in the academic and/or entrepreneurial communities (41).
Currently, for the students’ projects to bear greater relevance and to better assess their outcomes, information is requested from the companies where they work . This has been done in an informal fashion by holding feedback meetings with the academic program coordinators and the student employers. Examples of companies that have been present at such meetings include Honeywell, Gulfstream, EEMSA, Skyworks, in Mexicali; Hyson, and COPARMEX in Tijuana; and Fender in Ensenada, among others.
Each instructor carries out an individual learning evaluation for each student in each of the courses he/she teaches. Commonly, instructors present the students with the evaluation criteria and learning activities to be carried out by the students, and quite often students carry out such activities by making use of real problems/issues from their work setting. At the end of a course the instructor presents the student evaluation, which includes all learning achievements on a scale of 5-10, where 5 is a failing grade, 8 fair, 9 very good, and 10 excellent. As evidence of the quality of these projects, there is a random sample of the assignments prepared by the students (41).
The student achievement evaluation model is centered on what the student does, on practical work, based on the learning that has occurred (and based on the program’s accreditation). An objective test is not the standard, rather the student’s grade is based on the development of projects and the presentation these projects before the class and and a jury.
Identified as areas for improvement are the standardization and documentation of the process for obtaining the outcomes of student performance, of being able to develop a portfolio of the projects carried out by the student during his/her graduate studies that can become an integral part of the Learning Assessment Institutional Model (3). Also deemed important is being able to involve the companies where the students work so they participate as promoters, sponsors and advocates of projects carried out by the students.
CETYS’ faculty has always played an important role in defining the academic standards of CETYS University. From the definition of the new Undergraduate and Graduate academic programs, to the curricular development and review of these programs, the faculty’s participation has always been valued, active, and consistent.
Positions such as Curricular Development Coordinators (CDM) and Subject Matter Experts (42) were established with the Curricular Reform of 2004, which have been held by faculty members that to date have been in charge of developing the Course Programs (33) for all the subjects of the Bachelor Level Academic Programs. Definition of course programs takes into account the professional and teaching experience of the instructors from the three campuses in order to define the standardized work documents that reflect such experience, as well as the Educational Model and Institutional Nuances.
At the Graduate Level, instructors have defined the direction of the Academic Programs currently being offered, and have contributed to their evolution and consolidation.
Aiming to become a learning-centered institution and to carry out learning assessment in a systematic fashion, we face the challenge of achieving the full involvement of the faculty in the activities pertaining to a learning assessment cycle, in seeking for an evidence-based culture to permeate the academic endeavor, and in having the faculty engage in teaching whose main focus is student learning, as well as in the systematic compilation of evidence supporting such achievements.
(MR2) Among the aims of the new organizational structure (2) is that of providing the means, arenas, and functions to be able to accomplish an organization primarily focused on the academic endeavor, and to firmly establish the role of the faculty. CETYS is undergoing a transition and accomplishing an effective operation of these new structures constitutes both a challenge and an opportunity, seeking to extensively communicate the academic goals of the institution and faculty involvement in accomplishing these goals.
As per the Vision 2010 Plan, CETYS University will try to be the best institution in Mexico to offer higher education programs in the selected areas of Management, Engineering, and Social Sciences and Humanities. In concurrence with its development vision and in an effort to satisfy the needs of local industry, we have been preparing master’s degree programs with a practical orientation for part-time students since 1992 in these three areas. The students that have participated in these programs have completed their programs in an average of 4.3 years; this is a very competitive time for programs of this nature in Mexico. The data in Table 3.1 show the number of master’s and doctoral degrees that the institution has granted in the last 5 years which mainly have concentrated at the master’s degree level.
Due to official (government) regulations in master’s programs, it seems that the number of master’s degree programs offered is very large. In reality and true to the current operation of the Graduate College, we are offering only one master’s degree program in Engineering Sciences (with 11 concentration areas), one master’s degree in Business Management (with 12 concentration areas), one master’s degree in Education (with 4 concentration areas), and one master’s degree in Psychology (with 5 concentration areas). Thus, the total number of master’s degrees is 4, and the concentration areas are only offered according to student demand. In general, the master’s degree in Management and in Engineering operates only 5 concentration areas. Opening of concentration areas is done by demand and only when we have the appropriate faculty to provide the required support for the students so they can complete quality academic work. It is appropriate to clarify, as well, that the degree granted makes reference to the master’s degree title, and not the concentration. As far as the doctoral degree programs, there are only 2 operating; the doctoral degree in Education and Values and the doctoral degree in Management, so the total number of programs offered by the Gradate College is only six.
SCHOLARSHIP AND CREATIVE ACTIVITY
(CFRs: 2.8, 2.9)
2.8 Faculty Development.
From its inception, CETYS University has dedicated efforts to teacher training and development, mainly focused on the didactic facet, and independently coordinated at each Campus. As of 2004, instructors have been trained based on the institution’s educational model, no longer based merely on the application of pedagogy, and such training is carried out by way of a teaching diploma and a Masters Degree in Education.
(MR15). A Comprehensive (Integral) Faculty Training Program has been developed (43), which entails a project aimed at systematizing work geared towards mastering pedagogy, training in the field of expertise, and also training in the personal sphere. There are important efforts that were previously made at a pedagogy training level and in the personal realm by areas such as CEA. Seeking to achieve a greater coverage and level of systematization, such functions now have become integrated into a Coordinación de Formación Docente Integral (Comprehensive Teacher Training Coordination), under the Dirección de Desarrollo Curricular (Curricular Development Direction) (44). Training in the field of expertise now falls under the responsibility of Colleges who, on the basis of the development projections of the Academic Programs, have developed ad-hoc programs for the training of instructors supported by the Academic Programs.
Presently, seeking to implement the pertinent initiatives and given the various levels of instructor preparation and development, a personalized diagnostic is being undertaken in order to identify the areas in which each instructor may require additional training (45). While training is not directly evaluated, the teaching performance of the instructor is evaluated by means of the Sistema de Evaluación y Remuneración del Profesorado (SERP), or (Professoriate Evaluation and Remuneration System) (30), which evaluates teaching performance in the context of course planning, learning facilitation, and learning evaluation. This system is currently under review and it is aimed at focusing more on the achievement of learning rather that on the instructor’s performance.
Data on instructor performance have been gathered, but mainly for administrative purposes pertaining to compensation and decision-making on rehiring of subject-instructors. In some cases, evaluation has allowed us to obtain information on the personal needs of instructor orientation and training; such evaluations are carried out on an individual basis, and have included conducting live observations of classes to identify strengths and weaknesses.
Instructor weaknesses are identified in an effort to systematize institutional instructor training efforts for all faculty, including full-time, part-time, and subject-assigned instructors. Instructor training seminars and workshops should follow a cyclical program, and the contents of these programs should be continuously reviewed so as to ensure that they guarantee the instructor’s orientation towards achieving the learning outcomes. One of the significant efforts towards achieving this is the workshop on learning assessment that will be offered to all full-time instructors of the three campuses on January 8, 2008. Dr. Mary Allen will be the instructor for this workshop (84). It is importance, as well, for the instructor training programs to unfold into areas of specialization, which are the responsibility of Colleges, particularly those focusing on instructor training in areas of expertise in the Academic Programs offered by the institution.
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