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2.9 Design and Unfolding of the Educational Model Through Co-Curricular Activities.
The Institutional Educational Model defines a series of learning expressions, nuances, and a value system that must be part of the academic life of every CETYS University student. This Educational Model becomes part of the curricular activities by means of the Standardized Course Programs that have been developed since the Curricular Reform of 2004, where their implementation becomes explicit by means of the work carried out by the instructor with his/her students.
Aside from the aforementioned, there are several other activities that supplement curricular work and through which the student experiences the Institutional Educational Model, its learning expressions, nuances, and value system. Some of these activities are mandatory for students at a certain level, and are carried out at CETYS System level (for instance, Social Service, Professional Practices, English Course, etc.), (48, 49, 50, 53) while other activities are particular to certain campuses or Schools, and provide distinctive elements that have to do with a given School’s Academic Program (for example the organization of and attendance at Symposia, Congresses, Science Weeks, as well as the participation in National and International Competitions and Meets, etc).
Furthermore, there is an additional group of activities that are at once recreational and educative, and constitute part of student life at each Campus (for instance, Student Day, Rallies, Queen Campaigns, Cultural Workshops, etc.), while there are activities that specifically foster nuances such as internationalization (exchanges, national and abroad stays, etc.), and being entrepreneurial (competitions, meets, Empreser (51), etc.). Also present are co-curricular activities to support the academic performance of students, such as student tutoring programs, and overall tutoring programs; these activities were previously under the responsibility of CEA and DAPA, they are now designed and led by the CEDEs, a new organizational structure.
Our graduate students are noted for being involved and proactive individuals, and to a great extent this is due to the contribution made by co-curricular activities in support of the education they receive during their entire stay in the institution. (52)
There are areas at a system level that are responsible for encouraging the entrepreneurial (46) and international (47) nuances, as well as their social and labor linkages, each of which has work plans duly defined and aimed at achieving these goals.
Although these activities are undertaken to encourage a comprehensive education for students, an area of opportunity that has been identified, which is being able to systematize the design of such activities, as well as the documentation and compilation of evidences within a model in which work is aligned with the Learning Outcomes that are well defined and understood by the academic and support areas involved in the design and implementation of the co-curricular activities.
SUPPORT FOR STUDENT LEARNING
(CFRs: 2.10, 2.11, 2.12, 2.13)
Co-Curricular Outcomes in the Undergraduate and Graduate Academic Programs.
2.10 (MR9) (MR14). There is a set of activities that support students’ academic development. Previously such activities were designed and led in each Campus by areas such as the CEA and DAPA. We identified the need to consolidate such support activities to better serve students, thus the creation of the CEDEs; one provides assistance to students at the Mexicali Campus, and another one to students at the Tijuana and Ensenada Campuses (Coast Zone) (39). The CEDE provide services such as: tutoring, career guidance, advising, as well as personal and academic support for the student.
2.11 Co-curricular activities at a Bachelor level may be classified into those that are mandatory for every student and those that are supplementary (elective) and at the discretion of the student.
The mandatory co-curricular activities that foster the educational model, its learning expressions, nuances, and values, are as follows:
Courses in English: These take places during the first half of the undergraduate program, and consist in a series of activities that allow the student to achieve a competent level in the English language. Included among such activities are English courses and Diplomas. This activity also fosters the internationalization nuance (48).
Professional Practice: To encourage the social and labor linkage nuance, students must meet the requirement of a certain number of professional practice hours. Usually this practice is undertaken upon concluding the first half of the Undergraduate program (49).
Social Service: To encourage the social and labor linkage nuance, as well as the act of learning to coexist, and learning to be and to become fulfilled, the student must complete a certain amount of community social service hours. Usually this is requirement is completed during the second half of the Undergraduate program (50).
Entrepreneurial Program. Student participate in activities such as business simulations that seek to foster an entrepreneurial attitude (51).
The supplementary co-curricular activities are those in which the Undergraduate student (52) and the graduate student (53) become involved differently depending upon their interests, and there are certain activities that are unique to a given campus, school, or academic program, while there are others that replicate in different versions, although with the same content outline at a system level (52). Such activities include, among others:
National and International exchanges and stays
Participation in national and international competitions and meets
With the academic reform of 2004 a series of co-curricular activities were established for the graduate level, although they can be useful to the community in general, such as a conference format, which has come to be known as the graduate Conference Cycle (53). To date, around 20 conferences on various topics related to the graduate programs have taken place with nationally and internationally recognized speakers, among which one can cite Mr. César Gaviria, former President of Colombia, Mr. Pedro Aspe, former Mexican Secretary of Hacienda, and Dr. William Cohen, business strategy expert, to name only a few.
Another co-curricular activity that was established for the graduate programs is participation in Economic Development seminars, which are jointly offered by CETYS and the University of Oklahoma to the community in general, which graduate students can attend. This course may have curricular value for the student, provided he/she carries out a research project that must be presented before a jury for assessment.
These activities have been evaluated through either a direct survey of the participants or by requesting the opinion of students. The outcomes of such evaluations have led us to conclude they these activities are both relevant and important; however, the evaluations also show that to a great extent, factors such as date, time and city have an influence on the successful outcome of these activities, since there is always the risk of students not attending due to work related commitments.
Issues such as being able to better plan, standardize, and systematize the conference cycle are identified as areas for improvement; the latter entails planning and announcing at the beginning of the year all of the conferences to be presented, with their times, dates, and sites. Also needing attention includes, involving students in selecting the topics, involving the employers so that the conferences may be more successful, as well as aligning this activity and others to be defined for the graduate studies to the learning outcomes identified for the graduate programs.
2.12 Through a series of mechanisms already established and through both the institutional and campus Web Pages (www.cetys.mx) (www.cetys.mx/en), efforts have been made to provide students with accurate information on curricular and co-curricular requirement. Actively and continuously participating in this endeavor are the Director’s Offices, the academic program coordinators, student affairs, Empreser, etc. However, we have detected that we must evaluate the effectiveness of such means, as we must also systematize and consolidate all good practices that take place on the three campuses. In addition, new projects to consolidate this capability have sprung from the School Leadership (Director), such as the institutional catalogue and the institutional agenda.
2.13 (MR10) (MR14) Also identified as an opportunity is learning from what was done in order to create the CEDE (39) as a basis for systematizing the design of mandatory and co-curricular activities, and as an important challenge in systematically documenting and collecting evidence on such activities within a model in which work is aligned with well defined Learning Outcomes that are well known and understood by the support (supplementary) and academic areas that are involved in the design and delivery of co-curricular activities.
2.14 Criterion 2.14 is not applicable to CETYS, since we have no transfer students as is the common practice in the United States.
Although working with learning outcomes it is not new to CETYS University, which is easy to document in the course programs that have resulted from the Academic Reform of 2004, such a concept had not been used at the institutional level nor at the academic program level. The reason for the latter is that upon complying with the registration requirements of our academic programs before the official Mexican Education authorities (10), it is necessary to specify the profiles students at the point of graduation for both Undergraduate and Graduate programs. This legal condition led us to formulate learning outcomes in the course syllabus that would continuously bring about the development of the graduate profile elements stipulated in their corresponding academic programs. The WASC accreditation process and the learning assessment approach such processes bring will allow us to better check how the graduate profiles are being met, since the latter have in turn begun to translate into institutional learning and academic program outcomes. By the same token, we have begun to define educational objectives for the academic programs so that subsequent alumni follow-up studies will have better defined student performance categories that are relevant to the institution.
Having conceptualized a learning assessment model led us to reflect on how we have been engaged in delivering a learning-centered education, and now, in each academic program there is a classification of what the student must learn upon conclusion of each program. We have also identified the need to further align pedagogy with the curriculum, and to clarify for students what they should learn. In addition, looking to reinforce this learning for the faculty, in January of 2008 we have scheduled a workshop to be led by Dr. Mary Allen, who is an expert on learning outcomes, learning assessment, rubrics, etc., which represents a strategy to follow up on the recommendations identified by the WASC Team during the institutional capacity visit in 2007.
This undoubtedly places us on the pathway of developing a faculty and administrative culture that is more committed to the evidence and continuous improvement in complying with the purposes established by WASC for all institutions it accredits.
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