Over the past 124 years, The University of Tulsa has grown into a top 100 doctoral-degree granting institution with a distinguished reputation that continues to evolve. Throughout its long history, TU has continued to evolve and now attracts students from around the world to study, learn and transform themselves into artists, historians, engineers, scholars, practitioners and leaders. In step with the ambition of the university’s diverse and accomplished student body, TU aspires to improve and grow. Under the guidance of President Gerard Clancy and Provost Janet Levit, and as part of a newly adopted strategic plan, TU has initiated a continuous improvement processes of reflection, assessment and analysis.
As the Higher Learning Commission notes in its guiding principles for colleges and universities, “Continuous improvement is the opposite of stagnation.” TU faculty, staff and administrators are engaged in multiple efforts to improve the curriculum. One key step in this process is the assessment of student learning.
This spring, immediately following commencement for more than 800 students, TU faculty engaged in a day of reflection and assessment called Continuous Improvement Day. Faculty members spent the day reviewing the learning outcomes for undergraduate and graduate degree programs. (Learning outcomes describe what student should know, learn and be able to do by the time that they graduate with their degree). Faculty collaborated to review these expected outcomes and evaluate measurements of student success.
“This is an important process because it shows us where we can improve as teachers and suggests how we might change the curriculum to further improve student learning and their success,” said Richard Redner, senior vice provost for faculty and academic affairs. Associate Professor of Art History Kirsten Olds adds, “It is gratifying to see the ways in which students have progressed and to be reminded that they indeed are learning! Our assessment activities also provide a formal opportunity to discuss teaching and curriculum strategies that have been working and to interrogate what has been successful about them.”
In addition to Continuous Improvement Day, Director of University Assessment Monica Varner held consulting sessions with department chairs and faculty members to review assessment plans and answer questions related to assessment practices.
Continuous Improvement Day will be held again at the end of the fall term and at the end of each semester as part of the TU’s ongoing commitment to continuous improvement.