Millersville University, Faculty Senate
Attachment A
Faculty Senate Minutes
16 February 1999

General Education Review Committee Outcomes Assessment Plan
Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of Outcomes Assessment?

Outcomes Assessment insures that academic programs at the university are achieving stated goals. Where these goals are not being achieved, the Outcomes Assessment process prompts departments and programs (and the university administration) to plan needed program changes and to provide resources required for the implementation of these changes. This is the first "principle" noted in the Academic Outcomes Assessment Plan approved by the Faculty Senate on September 20, 1994:

'The purpose of assessment of academic outcomes is to improve student learning and development by creating methods to:

  1. cleady articulate the goals and objectives regarding knowledge, values, and skills of each academic program,
  2. gain feedback on the progress towards the goals and objectives, and
  3. use the feedback to modify aspects of each academic program to ensure that the goals and objectives are being achieved."

Why are General Education Outcomes being proposed at this time?

Over the past 8 years, prompted by MU's SPARC, Middle States and the SSHE System, the Faculty Senate has acted to implement an outcomes assessment plan for the university and its programs, including the General Education Program. The target date for the initial implementation of outcomes assessment is 2000 (concurrent with the Middle States evaluation visit).

Why is the GERC proposing these outcomes?

In 1992, Senate created the Outcomes Assessment Committee and included in its charge authority over General Education assessment. However, in 1994, the Ad hoc Senate Policies ReviewCommittee recommended to the Senate that language giving OAC general education review authority be deleted; this responsibility had already been assigned to GERC. GERC continues to carry out its mandate to "review and evaluate the General Education Program and report its recommendations to the Faculty Senate," and to "initiate, review and evaluate proposed changes to the General Education Program and submit its recommendations to the Faculty Senate."

How will the outcomes be assessed and who will assess them?

Ultimately, Faculty Senate will make all decisions about how the outcomes are assessed. At this point, GERC is recommending a set of outcomes for the Senate's approval. Once approved, the GERC will select and submit to Senate for approval a plan for actually assessing 3-5 of the General Education Program Outcomes. If Senate approves this plan, the GERC win have oversight responsibility for the actual assessment and will work with faculty members in relevant departruents to carry it out. This may require arrangements for time and compensation on the part of the faculty members involved. All of this is subject to the approval of Senate.

What are the costs to the university? Will these costs negatively impact programs?

Clearly, costs will vary depending on the actual plan for assessing each outcome. Because Senate reviews all assessment plans, Senate can weigh costs and benefits and determine appropriate action.

Will the proposed outcomes be applied to individual students?

No. The Academics Outcomes Assessment Plan Statement of Principles (#3) clearly indicates that "(A)ssessments should not be used as "gates" to control entrance to or exit from programs. Students should not be required to take post-baccalaureate admissions tests."

How will outcomes assessment affect individual faculty members, especially with regard to retention, tenure or promotion?

Because this is a program evaluation process, outcomes crafted and data gathered should in no way affect individual faculty members' careers. This is safeguarded in the Academic Outcomes Assessment Plan Statement of Principles (#4): "Assessment data are for the use of the faculty and programs who collect the data and will not be used to make comparisons among faculty, departments, schools, or colleges, nor be employed in the retention, tenure, or promotion processes." Actually, data gathered through the outcomes assessment process should prove useful to faculty members in responding to unsubstantiated criticisms and uninformed distortions of university programs.

Will the General Education Outcomes Assessment Plan change the curriculum?

It is conceivable that actual assessment of outcomes could produce data that would cause the GERC to recommend changes inthe General Education Program. It is important to note that 1) these changes would be limited in scope because they would relyon data regarding no more than 3-5 outcomes at one time; 2) no changes would be proposed for at least 2-3 years because data gathering and reporting on each cycle of assessed outcomes will take that long; and 3) an changes are recommended to Faculty Senate and subject to Senate approval.

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