Continuous Improvement Philosophy
The University of Tulsa is committed to continuous improvement in all of its functions. Continuous improvement of student learning through the curriculum is a faculty and data driven process. University administrators provide assistance and resources to carry out curricular and co-curricular assessment activities, however, faculty steer the curriculum and student learning assessment process. From faculty engagement in assessment, teaching and learning improvement strategies emerge, which lead to higher levels of student achievement.
The University of Tulsa is committed to a culture of continuous improvement through the process of university assessment. The TU plan of Continuous Improvement occurs with regularity and constancy. Strategies for improvement are guided by evidence and aligned with the University mission. The institution evaluates university functions, so as to determine how well we are achieving our stated mission. The TU commitment to continuous improvement ensures the implementation of assessment processes that evaluate student learning, educational programs, co-curricular services, and engagement activities. The Academic Continuous Improvement Process diagram shows the university processes for continuous improvement for assessment of the Tulsa Curriculum, annual assessments, periodic program reviews and co-curricular learning activities. The Accountability Plan is a visualization of faculty, staff and administrative academic assessment responsibilities.
Institution learning outcomes (ILO’s), program learning outcomes (PLO’s) and student learning outcomes for individual courses (SLO’s) are used to establish institution, program and course level student goals. To guide faculty in the development and continued improvement of learning outcomes, the University Assessment Committee developed Guidelines for Writing Differentiated Learning Outcomes. Use of the guidelines will help ensure that the institution maintains appropriate distinctions between learning outcomes for doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s and certificate programs.
As an institution, we have used the mission statement as de facto ILO’s. Some of these are difficult to measure and so Institutional Learning Outcomes have recently been extracted from the Tulsa mission statement and modified so that each of the outcomes is measurable. This important work was the product of the University Assessment Committee and approved by Deans’ Council. The working ILO’s will be forwarded to the University Curriculum Committee for further review. In the mean-time provide workable ILO’s for university assessment activities.
The Tulsa Curriculum is assessed through The Tulsa University Learning Assessment Project (TULAP), which is a faculty-developed process that uses evaluative instruments (rubrics) to analyze student work that is produced in general curriculum courses. This summer the Tulsa Curriculum Review Committee was formed and charged with conducting a comprehensive review of the Tulsa Curriculum. The Committee will provide their recommendations in fall 2019 for implementation in fall 2020. To lay the assessment foundation for their work, TU conducted a Tulsa Curriculum Student Learning Pilot Study. That study will be completed following the end of the summer term. Preliminary details are available here.
Annual Program Review
The Annual Program Review process is a faculty-driven initiative that measures attainment of program learning objectives for undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. The Annual Program Assessment Report provides evidence that The University of Tulsa is satisfying its mission using information gained each academic year to evaluate the effectiveness of its academic programs and improve the student learning process. The process also provides faculty with an opportunity for self-reflection.
All degree programs undergo comprehensive review. Law School reviews are guided by the American Bar Association (ABA) and their ABA accreditation. Graduate program review processes are described in the Graduate Program Review Guidelines. The newly formed Provost Program Review Committee has been charged with ensuring that TU’s academic programs enhance student learning and align with the University’s strategic priorities. This standing committee is tasked with evaluating all academic programs in all colleges at TU across a number of dimensions.
The comprehensive undergraduate program review process involves all undergraduate academic programs to record and demonstrate achievement of program outcomes, student learning, retention, and degree completion. Programs are reviewed on a rotating basis. The requirement may be met either through external comprehensive program reviews conducted by specialized accreditation agencies or internal comprehensive program reviews conducted by college committees. Comprehensive undergraduate program reviews provide a mechanism for faculty and administration to evaluate the effectiveness, progress, and status of an academic program on a continuing basis through the feedback loop. This year 16 additional undergraduate degree programs will undergo comprehensive undergraduate program review according to the attached review schedule.
The University of Tulsa has a rich co-curricular environment that supports student learning and is assessed by direct and indirect measures. True Blue Neighbors (TBN) is an important university initiative that gives students opportunities for internships and significant opportunities for student learning. More information about TBN assessment is provided in the TBN Co-Curricular Assessment and Continuous Improvement. The institution also implements the National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE) and Faculty Survey on Student Engagement (FSSE) to obtain experiential and perception information from freshmen, seniors and the faculty who teach both groups. Co-curricular learning activities are aligned with Institutional Learning Outcomes. The alignment with ILOs creates a bridge between academic and student affairs, which promotes learning across the campus.
The University of Tulsa institutional assessment initiative, the Mission Statement Assessment Project (MSAP), uses direct assessments of students’ abilities to measure the accomplishment of institutional learning objectives. The following method gives feedback of student performance at multiple levels and in various ways across the curriculum:
- HEIghtenTM scores are obtained from a standardized exam that is administered to students at the beginning and end of their undergraduate tenures. Students are tested on written communication, critical thinking, and intercultural competency.
Students are provided opportunities to give direct feedback to faculty about learning experiences at the course level through the end-of-semester course evaluations. Results of these activities are analyzed for trends and evidence of student growth and proficiency. Results are compared to national cohorts. Student confidentiality is maintained by removing identifiers from artifacts prior to analyzing data and presenting results to stakeholders. Collectively, these assessment activities provide faculty with a comprehensive picture of what is working well for students and faculty and areas where opportunities for improvement exist.