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2.5 Institutional Effectiveness PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 September 2008 11:33

2.5 Institutional Effectiveness

The institution engages in ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide research-based planning and evaluation processes that (1) incorporate a systematic review of institutional mission, goals, and outcomes; (2) result in continuing improvement in institutional quality; and (3) demonstrate the institution is effectively accomplishing its mission.

Responsible Unit: Division of Academic Affairs/IPAR

Compliance Judgment

Compliance

Narrative

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors began a continuous and flexible planning process once the board was created in 1972. The board adopted the first long-range plan in 1976. Periodically (1990, 1992, 1994, 2000, 2002) there have been comprehensive reviews and assessments of the mission of each institution, its academic program offerings, research and service functions, administrative structure, and enrollment patterns and trends. Interim reports from system institutions capture the progress made in achieving the goals of the strategic plans [1] [2]. Institutions in the UNC System align their mission and strategic goals with those of the system and measure their progress, which is reported to the UNC System General Administration as requested.

The UNC System mission states that it is "a public, multi-campus university dedicated to the service of North Carolina and its people . . . [Its] mission is to discover, create, transmit, and apply knowledge to address the needs of individuals and society. This mission is accomplished through instruction, which communicates the knowledge and values and imparts the skills necessary for individuals to lead responsible, productive, and personally satisfying lives; through research, scholarship, and creative activities, which advance knowledge and enhance the educational process; and through public service, which contributes to the solution of societal problems and enriches the quality of life in the State. . . Teaching and learning constitute the primary service that the university renders to society [3]."

As an affiliate institution and one of seventeen campuses, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T) ensures that its strategic plans align with the mission and strategic directions of the UNC System. Over the past decade, A&T has implemented the FUTURES long-range plan (2001-2006) [4], developed A&T's institutional response to the UNC System's strategic framework, introduced in 2007 [5] and titled UNC Tomorrow [3], and commenced the latest institutional strategic planning process (2009), Building on the Legacy [6], which bridges FUTURES and continues the periodic review of the university's mission, goals and outcomes. Building on the Legacy also complements the broad, future strategic directions of the UNC System as described in UNC Tomorrow.

UNC System Long-range Plan 2000-2005: In 2002, the UNC System reported on the constituent institutions' progress toward the five long-range goals in the 2000-2005 strategic plan, which targeted: (1) greater access to higher education, (2) intellectual capital formation, (3) improved K-16 education, (4) creation and transfer of knowledge, and (5) transformation and change [7].

Providing greater access to higher education within the state (Goal 1), the School of Technology entered into a consortium with Indiana State University to offer an online PhD in Technology Management [8]. The university's contributions to intellectual capital formation (Goal 2) included Cooperative Extension programs and agricultural research at the cutting edge of science and technology. The progress report also recognized the development of on-campus and other new degree programs (Goal 2). A&T participated in the University-School Teacher Education Partnership (USTEP), a UNC Board of Governors' initiative to connect university faculty and public school educators in order to enhance teacher training (Goal 3). The School of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences (SAES) has a cooperative extension program that provides information and assistance in a broad range of subjects in rural and urban areas of the state. In addition, SAES faculty members conduct research in food, agricultural, family and environmental sciences (Goal 4). The A&T USTEP provides opportunities for pre-service teachers to work with clinical teachers as interns in the public school classrooms. This aligns with the intellectual capital formation (Goal 2) and the K-16 focus (Goal 3) by strengthening the public education system, which is the training ground for the human resource capital that powers the state's economic development engine [7]. The university's strategic goal of delivering distinctive interdisciplinary programs (see Strategic Direction and Outcomes: Interdisciplinary University), outlined in the FUTURES strategic plan [4], was a transformational change (Goal 5).

The UNC System progress report also credited North Carolina A&T with increasing access through enhanced distance education courses, implementing a retention plan and a long-range enrollment plan targeting underrepresented students.

Strategic Direction and Outcomes: Interdisciplinary University: In 1999 North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University installed its ninth chancellor, James C. Renick. In 2000 Chancellor Renick began campus-wide and community-wide strategic planning that led to the FUTURES strategic plan. He formed and charged the 24-person FUTURES Planning and Resource Council to advise him. The council's specific charge was to "think boldly, insure campus-wide participation/communication, study the facts/data, advise the Chancellor, and maintain a university-wide perspective [9]." The council was broadly representative of the university and external constituents. It included faculty, staff, the senior dean, a member of the Board of Trustees, chair of the Faculty Senate, the provost, the Student Government Association president, chair of the Staff Senate, corporate and city government officials, among others (p. 1) [9].

There was an internal scan team (19 individuals) and a nineteen-person external scan team, a diverse group of individuals representing the university and external community. The internal scan team examined internal databases on the faculty, students, administration, staff, revenues and expenditures, support services, administrative process and physical structure to discern trends, driving forces and comparative advantages. The external scan team identified stakeholders' perceptions, using three models to identify the driving forces, and the opportunities and threats. They included Porter's five forces in industry analysis, macroeconomic factor analysis, and Porter's "Diamond" of nation-state attributes to industry competitive advantage. Porter's five forces analysis uses a framework derived from industrial organization and economics to identify forces that determine the competitiveness of markets. The information compiled was used at a March 15, 2001, retreat with scan team members to develop scenarios that described the future focus of the university. Under the direction of Dr. Edward M. Penson, senior principal and president of Penson-Strawbridge and a former college president and university chancellor, with more than two decades of experience in higher education planning, new teams were formed to craft scenarios. The result was three scenarios from which to select as the primary focus of the university's future: (1) doctoral research institution; (2) interdisciplinary-centered university, and (3) learner-centered communiversity (p. 3) [9].

The FUTURES strategic planning process was fluid, flexible and open-ended. Issues were addressed as they arose. For example, a values team, comprising 19 individuals, was asked to examine the values of the institution and synthesize the data into a statement of values. The outcome was the following statement: "North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is an institution where respect for the individual, integrity/honesty, and pride in its heritage as an HBCU, can be leveraged to achieve excellence in our historical mission of instruction, research and service." (p. 4) [9]

Members of the campus community were invited to attend at least one of the five town hall meetings scheduled for March 26, March 28, March 30, April 2, and April 4, 2001. A campus-wide FUTURES planning retreat was convened on April 19-21, 2001, to get input on the three scenarios (p. 3) [9].

The culmination of the intensive, four-month planning (January - April 2001) resulted in the decision to implement the interdisciplinary-centered university model. That concept became the centerpiece of the six-year FUTURES strategic plan (2002-2007). The five FUTURES goals defined a leading-edge interdisciplinary niche for A&T, based on research that supported removing the disciplinary silos that prevented an integrative approach to teaching and learning. The FUTURES goals were to: (1) establish and ensure an interdisciplinary focus for the university; (2) deliver visionary and distinctive interdisciplinary learning, discovery, and engagement; (3) foster a responsive learning environment that utilizes an efficiently integrated administrative support system; (4) provide superior, readily available student services and programs, and (5) enhance and diversify the university's resource base [4].

The chancellor convened a university-wide meeting annually in April (2003-2006), facilitated by Dr. Penson, to report on progress toward achievement of the FUTURES' near-term, mid-term, and long-term goals, objectives, and activities. Annually (2003-2006), the major academic and service units of the university reported on progress toward the FUTURES goals. This information was compiled into a summary report and published as the FUTURES report cards [4] [10] [11] [12]. For example, see the academic affairs unit spreadsheet tracking these accomplishments [13]. Throughout the remainder of his tenure at A&T, Chancellor Renick and the Chancellor's Cabinet led FUTURES and kept the FUTURES vision front and center in decision-making about the university's growth and development.

Strategic Direction and Outcomes: Program Improvements and Quality Enhancements: The planning that began in 2001 and launched the FUTURES strategic initiative a year later (2002), positioned the university as an interdisciplinary institution. This was the first goal of the FUTURES plan to establish an interdisciplinary focus "that mandates overall high quality, continued competitiveness, and effective involvement of global strategic partners in marketing and delivery of programs and operations (p. 5) [4]."

Revised General Education Core: The university revised its general education core curriculum, making it interdisciplinary [14]. The revised core curriculum was a near-term activity of the second FUTURES goal to "deliver visionary and distinctive interdisciplinary learning, discovery, and engagement that include collaborations and partnerships as part of the learning experience (p. 6) [4]." The planning began in 2002 with a comprehensive review and evaluation of the internal goals and objectives of the university, extensive research on general education revisions at other institutions in order to benchmark models of interdisciplinary education, and visits to institutions with leading-edge programs, such as Portland State University. It ended in 2006 with the launching of the revised interdisciplinary themed program, named University Studies (UNST) [see SACS Principles 3.7.3, Faculty development; SAC Principle 3.5.1, College-level competencies, and SACS Principles 3.5.3, Undergraduate program requirements]. The interdisciplinary UNST tied into the university's FUTURES mission, vision, and goals, which positioned A&T as "a learner-centered community that develops and preserves intellectual capital through interdisciplinary learning, discovery, engagement, and operational excellence (p. 2) [4]."

New Interdisciplinary Programs: FUTURES goal two was to "deliver visionary and distinctive interdisciplinary learning, discovery, and engagement . . . (p. 4) [9]." It had a long-term objective to establish "at least one interdisciplinary doctoral degree program (p. 6) [9]." In 2005, the university started three new interdisciplinary programs: (1) Computational Science and Engineering MS [15]; (2) Energy and Environmental Studies PhD [16], changed to (Energy and Environmental Systems in April 2009), and (3) Leadership Studies PhD [17]. In fall 2008, eighty students enrolled in the three programs. There were twenty graduates that year [18]. The new graduate programs aligned with FUTURES goal three, which, in part, aimed to "foster a responsive learning environment that utilizes . . . research and collegial interactions . . . (p. 9) [9]." The university also developed policies on joint faculty appointments and joint administration of interdisciplinary academic program [19]. Any new academic programs had to be interdisciplinary and all faculty hires for those programs were required to have appointments in at least two academic departments. These policies were intended to ensure that the interdisciplinary model would be institutionalized.

FUTURES Ventures Funds: The chancellor created the FUTURES Ventures Funds Grants to advance the vision of an interdisciplinary university and to support projects, activities and experiences to encourage research, which related to FUTURES goals one and two, respectively, to "establish and ensure an interdisciplinary focus for North Carolina A&T . . . ." and to "deliver visionary and distinctive interdisciplinary learning, discovery, and engagement that include collaborations and partnerships . . . ." In addition, creating and preserving intellectual capital was a UNC System strategic initiative [7], along with expanding the frontiers of knowledge [20]. The chancellor reserved $250,000 to fund projects, restricting half that amount to interdisciplinary projects. Beginning in 2002 and ending in academic year 2006-2007, A&T awarded eighty-seven venture grants, totaling $1,202,396, or about $240,479 annually [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26]. A wide range of projects received support. Twenty-eight interdisciplinary projects were funded, approximately one-third (32%) of the total of eighty-seven.

Faculty in each of the seven schools and colleges received grants, as well as the School of Graduate Studies (2003-2004 and 2006-2007) and staff in support units, such as Career Services (2002) (4), The Center for Student Success in 2002 (3) and 2004-2005 (1), Evening/Weekend Programs (2004-2005), the Honors Program (2002 and 2003-2004), International Programs (2002), and the North Carolina A&T State University Alumni Association (2002). Community outreach resulted in a collaborative grant between the YWCA of Greensboro and the College of Engineering (2004-2005) on a mathematics, science and engineering program [SACS Principle 3.3.1.5]. The College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Engineering tied for the highest number of grants with 21 each.

Aggie Institute for Visionary Leadership: Launched with enthusiasm in 2006, the Aggie Institute for Visionary Leadership was intended to improve the university's administrative support systems through leadership training and professional development of staff. The institute was a strategy of the FUTURES goal three, stating that "administrators will collaborate with faculty and staff to implement programming that . . . facilitates leadership development, communication, collaborative skill development, and professionalism [27]." In October 2005, the director of the Division of Human Resources convened the Leadership Steering Committee, which was the planning group charged with developing the institute "to develop and strengthen our middle managers and future leaders in areas such as change management, strategic planning, organizational communication, and team building [28]."

Twenty-nine staff members and administrators participated [29] in the inaugural institute, which included five full-day sessions (8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.) over four months (January - April 2006) [30]. The leadership themes of the program were: (1) personal mastery; (2) interpersonal mastery; (3) team mastery, and (4) systems mastery [31]. The planned evaluation and assessment of the institute covered four areas: (1) feedback from participants at the end of the program; (2) improved proficiency in knowledge and skill levels; (3) application of skills and knowledge learned, and organizational impact and return on investment [32]. Human resources staff collected feedback from participants at the end of each facilitator's session [33]. When the human resources director left the university and the chancellor and provost departed to take leadership positions elsewhere, the institute halted and has not been revived.

Strategic Direction and Outcomes: High Research Activity: In the past decade, at the institutional level, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T) has periodically examined its mission, goals, and outcomes at two strategic points. The first was the change of campus leadership in 1999, when James C. Renick was appointed chancellor. The second came in 2007 when President Bowles initiated UNC Tomorrow, a statewide review of the system institutions "to determine how the University of North Carolina can respond more directly and proactively to the 21st century challenges facing North Carolina both now and in the future through the efficient and effective fulfillment of its three-pronged mission of teaching, research and scholarship, and public service [34]."

While the chancellor and Board of Trustees have reviewed the mission of the institution periodically, the core of the mission remained largely the same from 2000 through 2009. As stated in the Undergraduate Bulletin, A&T is "a public, comprehensive, land-grant university committed to fulfilling its fundamental purposes through exemplary undergraduate and graduate instruction, scholarly and creative research, and effective public service [35] [36]." However, in the early 2000s, the university made a concerted, strategic push to increase the research and scholarly productivity of faculty and graduate students in order to graduate at least twenty doctoral students each year in order to elevate A&T to the status of a "high research activity" university in the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classification. From 2000 to 2005, the university achieved that goal, moving from the "Master's Colleges and Universities" category in 2000 to the "Research Universities (high research activity)" category in 2005 [37]. IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) information from the U.S. Department of Education is the primary source of data used by the Carnegie Foundation to determine an institution's classification.

The effective strategy was to encourage faculty research by intensifying efforts to develop additional master's and doctoral degree programs through the Division of Research & Economic Development. Working closely with faculty and staff in the schools and colleges, the division launched eight interdisciplinary research clusters: (1) Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology; (2) Agriculture, Energy and Environment; (3) Biotechnology and Biosciences; (4) Computational Science and Engineering; (5) Information Technology; (6) Public Health, (7) Leadership and Community Development, and (8) Transportation and Logistics [38]. The long-term strategic plan set a goal of $40 million in sponsored research activity by August 2007. This goal was met in June 2007 with $41,570,077 and in 2009 funding was at $52 million. A&T remains third in the UNC System in terms of research dollars for sponsored programs [39] [40] [41] [42] (see also SACS 3.3.1.4 Research).

Strategic Direction and Outcomes: Focused Growth: Periodic focused initiatives from the UNC System General Administration (UNC-GA) also define strategic directions for overarching issues. For example, in 2001-2002 the general administration designated North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T) as a focused growth institution with a mandate to increase enrollment and develop new courses and programs. The FUTURES strategic plan established an enrollment growth of 10,000 students by 2005 (p. 13) [43], which the university surpassed with a fall 2005 enrollment of 11,103 [44]. In fact, from fall 1999 to fall 2006, the enrollment grew each year, rising from 7,442 (1999) to a high of 11,103 (2005). After the annual increases in enrollment since 1999, there was a slight decrease in fall 2006 (11,098) that continued in fall 2007 (10,498) and fall 2008 (10,388).

The decreased enrollments are attributed to the university's efforts to increase retention by strengthening its admissions standards, which resulted in the enrollment of better-prepared students. With the full support of the A&T deans and chairs of academic departments, the deans reduced the number of exceptions they allowed to the admissions criteria for the incoming 2006 class. In addition, that same academic year (2006-2007) the provost charged a committee to review the admission, readmission, and academic standing, probation, suspension and dismissal policies. The Faculty Senate and Board of Trustees approved the new policies in the fall 2007, which included higher minimum admission criteria, which were implemented in the fall 2008 [45]. Fewer students were admitted (10,388 in fall 2007 vs. 10,498 in fall 2008), but with higher SAT scores (total 888 in fall 2007 vs. 920 in fall 2008) [46] and high school rankings (top fifth 14% in fall 2007 vs. 19% in fall 2008) [47].

For six years under the focused growth initiative (2001-2002 through 2006-2007), the UNC System provided over a million and a half dollars in additional funding for new courses and programs-both classroom and distance education, personnel, equipment and facilities upgrades. Nine new degree programs, including one distance education online degree resulted (see Table I). Several of the new programs offered distance education courses.

Table I

Focused Growth Funded Initiatives (Total $1,540,500)

Academic Years 2001-2002 to 2006-2007

AY 2001-2002

AY 2002-2003

AY 2003-2004

AY 2004-2005

AY 2005-2006

AY 2006-2007

Degree Program(s)

Degree Program(s)

Degree Program(s)

Degree Program(s)

Degree Program(s)

Retention Efforts

$165K/3 yrs

BS - Criminal Justice

$74.5K/1 yr

MS - Compu-tational Sciences

$165K/3 yrs

MA - Ed'al Administration

$205K/3 yrs

MAT - Teacher Education

$70K/3 yrs

MS - Inform-ation Techno- logy (online)

$18K "Enhancing the First-Year Curriculum: Pedagogy, Interaction, Technology and Develop- ment"

 

$225K/3 yrs

BS - Computer Engineering

$210K/3 yrs

BS - Sport Science & Fitness Management

$149K/3yrs

MA - Journalism & Mass Com- munication

 

$34K "Developing & Implementing a Faculty Learning Community for Improving Learning & Retention in High-Failure Rate Courses"

 

$225K/3 yrs

BA - Liberal Studies

 

 

 

 

Strategic Direction and Outcomes: Student Retention: With the installation of the new president of the UNC System in 2006, student retention received focused attention. The system required submission of retention plans with specific hallmark initiatives to meet the system-wide five-year retention goals: 80% freshman retention; 28% four-year graduate rate, and 50% six-year graduate rate [48]. A&T formed the University-wide Retention Team, which met during the spring and fall 2007 and spring 2008. The seventeen-person team [49] had representatives from each school and college, as well as staff from The Center for Student Success (TCSS), the unit advising students with undeclared majors; University Studies, the general education program, and the School of Graduate Studies.

The interim associate vice chancellor for academic affairs/institutional planning, assessment and research initially chaired the University-wide Retention Team. The charge to the team was to develop a few well-focused retention initiatives, based on retention research, best practices, and knowledge of successful programs in the UNC System, which could be integrated into the schools and colleges. After identifying these initiatives, team members worked in three mini groups to craft the goals, objectives, and assessment plan. The mini groups gathered data on A&T's high-failure rate courses, visited a well-regarded academic advising center at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and developed a pilot Summer Bridge Program that was funded by the UNC System.

Quality Advising: The University-wide Retention Team developed three hallmark retention initiatives [50], led by The Center for Student Success (TCSS). In 2007, the university engaged Institutional Research Consultants (IRC), an external consulting firm, to assess and evaluate TCSS to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the unit, compared to the vision and mission that resulted in the establishment of TCSS, which was to serve first- and second-year students who enrolled as undeclared or undecided majors [51]. Using the IRC recommendations, the university restructured TCSS as the Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) [52] to provide centralized advising and support services for freshmen and sophomores. The university committed to improving the quality of advising for these students based on the abundant research literature,( i.e., Noel-Levitz, the First-year Experience, and others), that confirmed the role of making one-on-one connections to retaining students. Subsequently, A&T provided generous funding to CAE, designating one-third of the approximately $5 million annual Title III grant, starting in academic year 2007-2008 to doubling the number of academic and retention advisors, offering tutoring and supplemental instruction, and purchasing equipment and materials. An external assessment component was also funded (see MGT reports in SACS 3.3.1.3 Educational Support Services).

High-Failure-Rate Courses: Learning Communities: The second hallmark retention initiative A&T embraced was to improve students' success in high-failure-rate and challenging courses. Defined as courses in which 30 percent or more of the students earn a grade of F (failure), W (withdrawal), or I (incomplete), most of the high-failure courses are in mathematics and the sciences [53].

Using funds from the final year of the UNC System's focused growth initiative, the university funded two learning communities of faculty teaching high-failure-rate courses in mathematics and the sciences and the University Studies foundation courses in order to improve instruction and, thus, student success.

The Academy for Teaching and Learning had eight faculty members - five in mathematics and three in chemistry - participate in a learning community titled, "Developing and Implementing a Faculty Learning Community for Improving Learning and Retention in High-Failure-Rate Courses," during the 2006-2007 academic year and summer of 2007-2008. Innovations included assessing students' math backgrounds at the beginning of the math courses, synchronizing course syllabi and content across sections, increasing the frequency of assessment, increasing in-class collaborative learning, and providing supplemental online homework practices using CourseCompass software. The report on the learning community provides the details of the effort [54]. The outcomes and lessons learned will guide and strengthen the development of future retention efforts.

The goal of the year-long project May 2007 - May 2008) was to reduce the D-F-W rate in these courses through intentional and systematic changes in course design, pedagogical practice, and learning assessment processes based on classroom research, disciplinary best practices, and personal experience.

The mathematics team focused on two gateway courses, especially for students considering science, technology, engineering, and math majors, MATH 101 (College Algebra and Trigonometry) and MATH 131 (Calculus I). Innovations implemented in these courses during the fall 2007 and spring 2008 semesters included diagnostic assessments, increased frequency of assessment, collaborative work in class, and supplemental online homework [54].

There is some evidence that these innovations are helping students learn, but there has been no marked change in the percentage of students passing MATH 101 or MATH 131 with a grade of C or better. One of the most successful innovations has been the systematic implementation of collaborative work in class through weekly lab groups.

The instructors report that students participating in these in-class groups have begun to also study together out of class. In addition, more frequent in-class assessment has increased student motivation in the courses by breaking up the content into smaller chunks and providing more frequent opportunities for feedback on student progress to both instructors and students.

The chemistry team focused on the CHEM 100 (Physical Science) and CHEM 106/107 (General Chemistry) gateway courses. Innovations implemented during the fall 2007 and spring 2008 semesters included: (1) implementing a pedagogical technique, problem-based team learning (PBTL) approach in CHEM 106 to encourage greater student engagement in the learning process and daily practice with course ideas and concepts; (2) using PBTL helped to reduce F-W rates in this course from an average of 45% to around 20-25%, and (3) introducing an inverted classroom teaching strategy in CHEM 100 to promote hands-on learning activities and collaborative learning [54]. The instructor reported improvements in student engagement and learning.

In CHEM 106 and CHEM 107 sections, the instructor used random pop quizzes and student solutions of chemistry problems in class to improve class attendance and motivation, factors related to poor performance in these courses, group-based pre- and post-test on each chapter to encourage peer learning and regular textbook reading, tutoring by Honors Program students, and practice exams prior to actual. Exam scores in spring 2008 indicated that the teaching innovations implemented resulted in greater student learning. The most effective innovations, according to the instructor, were peer tutoring and practice exams. As a result of the pre-tests students showed increased preparation (relative to prior semesters) in reading the textbook prior to class coverage of topics. Use of practice tests helped students better understand chemistry concepts and practice problem-solving methods prior to major course exams. The instructor planned to continue use of these teaching practices in her courses.

A University Studies instructor coordinated the "Enhancing the First-Year Curriculum: Pedagogy, Interaction, Technology and Development" learning community in 2006-2007. The four University Studies (UNST) general education foundation courses (UNST 110 Critical Writing, UNST 120 Contemporary World, UNST 130 Analytical Reasoning, and UNST 140 African American Experience) proved to be challenging for students. Although these courses did not meet the strict definition of high-failure-rate courses, the numbers of students who made Ds and Fs in these courses were high. Using fall 2006 data, these are the statistics on poor grades [55]:

Table II

University Studies Foundation Courses

"D" and "F" Grades

Fall 2006 and Spring 2007

COURSES

% GRADE OF "D"

% GRADE OF "F'

 

 

 

UNST 110 - Fall 2006

10.4

13.7

UNST 120 - Fall 2006

8.3

11.8

UNST 130 - Fall 2006

5.6

10.9

UNST 140 - Spring 2007

12.3

11.9

The UNST learning community enabled faculty to deliver course content more easily through the use of Blackboard technology in order to engage students more actively in learning outside of the classroom [56]. In addition, this project sought to lay the foundation for strategically enhancing and broadening the implementation of technology learning tools by faculty. The project used Blackboard to create online student learning communities to access audio lectures for review 24/7 and interact with classmates in one section each of four general education courses: UNST 110 Critical Writing, UNST 120 Contemporary World, UNST 130 Analytical Reasoning, and UNST 140 African American Experience. In addition to the availability of classroom instruction around the clock, each faculty member created an eReading Room, which included course periodicals, interdisciplinary links, language resources and search engines. Blackboard allowed students to have group discussions about class work and provided additional, related materials that encouraged reading and writing more frequently than classroom time permitted.

Pre- and post-project questionnaires [57], administered to participating students and faculty at the end of the summer, revealed that students embraced the technology and felt that they had "a greater opportunity to learn when having access to audio recordings of lecture." However, there was a low level of writing among students using the eReading Room component of the program. Faculty valued the ability to "build banks of knowledge by recording lectures." They also found the tools adaptable to individual teaching styles. However, in high enrollment classes monitoring online group discussion was very time-consuming. In addition, technological problems sometimes prevented access to Blackboard and access to server space for hosting video files. Among the next steps was to design and conduct workshops and to create user manuals for faculty to facilitate and optimize using the technology [58].

During academic year 2008-2009, the project coordinator reported the online UNST courses used the eReading Rooms regularly, and that they are now a requirement for all UNST online courses. In spring 2009, UNST also piloted Elluminate Live!, software that allows for desktop sharing among students and faculty, live video conferencing, and other capabilities [59]

High-Failure-Rate Courses: Supplemental Instruction: Based on the poor performance of students in first-year mathematics and science courses, the Center for Academic Excellence started a Supplemental Instruction (SI) program, another hallmark initiative aligned with the strategic goal of improving retention. SI offered one-hour, sometimes longer, workshops, usually in the evenings, so that students could get additional help with homework, problem solving, and classroom content. The first step was to train faculty and staff in implementing SI. Consultants from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, the institution that pioneered SI programs, conducted two on-site workshops. A total of fifty-five participants attended (July 24-25, 2007 - thirty-two, and January 3-4, 2008 - twenty three), including CAE staff, as well as faculty from the mathematics and chemistry departments and UNST, and representatives from the schools of nursing and technology [60].

CAE designated staff members as SI program coordinator and assistant coordinator, and hired students as SI leaders, based on having received a grade of A in the respective courses. Weekly sessions with SI leaders helped the students to plan and prepare for the sessions. In the spring 2008, CAE offered SI for four freshmen high-failure courses with a total of 188 students enrolled: Chemistry 100 - Physical Science, Chemistry 106 - General Chemistry VI, Mathematics 101 - Fundamentals of Algebra and Trigonometry, and Mathematics 131 - Calculus I. Seventeen freshmen courses that met the criteria of 30% of students receiving F, W, I grades (no Pass/Fail courses were included) and at least ten students enrolled in the course. There were 195 SI sessions offered with 290 contact hours. There was a slight improvement in student performance in the courses, (i.e., 0.04 positive increase in mean final grades and 10.8% fewer D, F, W grades) (p. 3) [61].

Although the A&T criteria for the high-failure-rate course designation was 30% F, W, I, analysis of the SI data included grades of D because: (1) A&T based its SI program on the University of Missouri, Kansas City, model, which included D grades in its high-failure analyses, and (2) students receiving Ds in freshmen level courses are more likely to be on academic probation and suspension and, thus, are less likely to be retained. Therefore, we plan to add D grades to the grade analysis of high-failure-rate courses to be consistent with the SI data analysis.

The Supplemental Instruction staff analyzed the attendance and grades data and concluded the following [62]: (1) student attendance increased right before an exam; (2) different students attended the weekly sessions with only a small portion of repeaters, and (3) in general, students did not seek help through SI sessions or other tutorials. SI staff attributed the low attendance to SI not being mandatory; students receiving little or no class credit, or other credit for attending; and (3) low awareness of the purpose and benefits to be derived from SI. Data from the 2007 UNST Survey of Student Study Habits [63] and the report on the Wabash study of Factors Affecting Student Success at A&T [64] showed that A&T students spend relatively little time outside of classes studying, so they are less likely to attend an optional SI session.

SI staff proposed several solutions based on the analysis of these data. First, require students enrolled in SI-designated high-failure-rate classes to attend SI sessions. For example, San Francisco State University's SI program is mandatory and, consequently, participation is strong and student performance (grades) in high-failure-rate classes has increased. SI staff will recommend to the provost that we develop a mandatory SI policy for fall 2009 and implement it in spring 2010 as a pilot test.

Next, recruit students for the SI sessions during actual class hours in high-failure-rate courses. This would expose a captive audience to the SI process. By participating in an actual session, students would be exposed to the potential benefits. An ideal time for the session would be just before a quiz or test so that students could realize immediate benefits in improved grades.

Finally, the Center for Academic Excellence proposed to market the SI program to the entire campus, including senior administrators, deans, faculty, advisors, and students. The SI program needs buy-in at all levels, if it is to be successful. The SI staff would publicize the program by presenting SI information to campus constituents. Informational workshops through the Academy for Teaching and Learning would be an appropriate venue.

The instructors in the mathematics faculty learning community conducted by the Academy for Teaching and Learning in 2007-2008 suggested that a department-based Math Assistance Lab would lead to better results and closer connections with students [54]. The Center for Academic Excellence is pursuing this idea with faculty members in the Mathematics Department.

Summer Bridge Programs: The third and final strategic retention initiative was to develop hallmark summer bridge programs to enhance the basic mathematics and writing skills of first-year students, as well as provide an orientation to college life. In summer 2007, the UNC System funded a Summer Bridge Program at A&T and selected other system institutions. Twenty students participated in the A&T program. In 2008 the university offered a fee-based summer program, and thirty-five students attended. In 2009 the UNC System funded a second Summer Bridge Program and A&T participated with a restricted and targeted group of 100 provisionally admitted students.

The assessment and evaluation of these efforts included tracking the academic progress of students in the summer bridge programs. At the beginning of the second academic year (fall 2008), fourteen of the twenty students who participated in the 2007 summer program were in good standing, five were on academic suspension, and one was on academic probation. At the end of the second year (spring 2009), the cumulative grade point average (GPA) for the fourteen students in good standing was 2.47 [65] [66].

In the 2008 Summer Bridge Program cohort, twenty-seven of thirty-five students were in good standing at the end of their first year (spring 2009) with a 2.67 cumulative GPA [67] [68]. A review of the program attributed the higher cumulative GPA of the 2008 cohort to the fact that they were more engaged in the tutorial sessions, the use of the computer lab, and the evening wrap-up sessions. The overall high school GPAs were slightly higher as well, which are contributed to the higher success rate. Parents paid a portion of the cost of the 2008 program. Further, and in contrast to the parents of the 2007 cohort, the 2008 parents kept in more frequent telephone contact with the program staff to check on their children's academic progress [69].

Strategic Direction: A&T Tomorrow: The majority of the FUTURES goals were met in 2006 when there was a change of administration at the university and UNC System levels. Chancellor Renick left as President Erskine Bowles began his tenure and launched the UNC Tomorrow strategic planning initiative in 2007 [3], led by UNC Board of Governors Chairman Jim Phillips, UNC President Bowles, and the twenty-eight-member blue-ribbon UNC Tomorrow Commission. The NC Tomorrow Scholars Council, a fourteen-member panel of faculty from the system, provided expert research, analysis and advice. More than 10,000 individuals participated in statewide listening sessions and provided input. The major findings were clustered in seven categories: (1) global readiness; (2) access to higher education; (3) improving public education; (4) economic transformation; (5) health; (6) environment; and (7) UNC System outreach and engagement. All the system institutions developed response reports indicating their ranked priorities in each category. After review by the UNC System, each university developed a plan to accomplish the institutional priorities.

Drawing on the priorities in our UNC Tomorrow response report, (p. 4-5) [5], North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T) began strategic planning in October 2008 [6]. The plan is scheduled for completion and approval by the Board of Trustees in the spring 2010. The chancellor appointed the interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs and the special assistant to the chancellor to co-chair the council. The theme for the new strategic plan was Building on the Legacy. The chancellor convened the initial meeting of the Strategic Planning and Resource Council on February 10, 2009 [70] [71]. The thirty-member council included deans, cabinet members, faculty, staff, students, and alumni, as well as representatives from the Board of Trustees, Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, the A&T University Foundation, and community leaders. Using an organizational structure similar to FUTURES, the council established an internal scan team (sixteen members), external scan team (fifteen members), a values team (sixteen members), and the five work groups: Learning enterprise (thirty-three members); discovery enterprise (thirty-two); engagement enterprise (eight member); operational excellence (six members), and mission/vision (ten members) [6].

The planning process also followed closely the FUTURES model because Building on the Legacy was a bridge between FUTURES and the new UNC Tomorrow strategic directions. In addition, the teams and work groups paralleled the work groups and action teams of the campus UNC Tomorrow response group.

A second meeting (February 17, 2009) with the scan teams, values team and work groups reviewed the campus planning process, the charge to the scan teams and work groups, and reporting timeline [72]. The chancellor and co-chairs charged the teams and groups to develop goals, objectives, action strategies, and performance metrics to measure progress toward each of the proposed legacy goals [73]:

Goal 1 - Deliver visionary and distinctive undergraduate and graduate educational programs focused on intentional interdisciplinarity and globalization.

Goal 2 - Increase scholarly and creative research consistent with A&T's status as a "high research activity" institution.

Goal 3 - Foster a responsive learning environment that increases access to higher education and solves North Carolina's public education challenges.

Goal 4 - Develop and deliver exemplary programs to improve the health and wellness of North Carolinians.

Goal 5 - Strengthen and expand outreach, engagement and economic development programs.

Goal 6 - Provide superior, readily available student services and programs.

Goal 7 - Provide superior services and programs in enrollment management, human capital management, information technology and business processes.

Goal 8 - Enhance and diversify the university's resource base through effective fundraising, entrepreneurial initiatives and enhanced facilities.

The internal scan team report is an example of the data sources reviewed and the analyses of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) posed to key groups, such as the faculty, students, administrators and staff, as well as the impact of fiscal revenue and expenditures [73]. The internal scan team divided into three mini teams, which reviewed the voluminous data on faculty, students, administrators and staff, as well as data on university finances. Data sources included the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) survey data, report on the intellectual life of the campus, University's College Portrait as part of the Voluntary System of Accountability, and online database of information on colleges and universities, retention data, retention initiatives, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) survey data, the senior survey, sophomore survey, Delaware Cost Study, SACS Principles of Accreditation, the personnel data file, student data file, Honors Program retention and graduation study, data on peer institutions [74], among others. The strategic plan is scheduled for completion in early spring 2010 and will be presented to the A&T Board of Trustees for review and approval.

Budgeting Process - Continuation Budget: The continuation budget process, also known as the baseline budget, is restricted to defined categories of funding, e.g., library books and services, utilities, vehicle replacement, building reserves, employee payments, travel and inflation. The instructions developed by the Office of State Budget and Management are received by budget and planning, which distributes the instructions with the required schedules and inflationary allowances to the appropriate units. Additional information needed to complete the schedules is requested as necessary from the units involved, such as the Child Development Lab, library services, and human resources.

Increases and/or decreases are requested in utilities--fuel, electricity, water and sewer-inflationary increases for food for the children only in the Child Development Lab and for the animals at the farm, library books and journals to account for increased cost of periodicals, subscriptions and memberships necessary for the library to support the academic and research enterprises, travel to reflect new IRS minimums, employee payments, such as overtime, premium pay, disability payments, worker's compensation, longevity, building reserves, which are new funding for newly built or renovated state appropriated facilities. For example, the new school of education building received a building reserve.

The requests for increases or decreases are based on factors received from OSBM and by analyzing budget and actual expenditures from the prior two years.

Budgeting Process - Expansion Budget: There are two budgeting processes for institutions in the University of North Carolina System General Administration (UNC-GA): (1) the primary change budget, and (2) the continuation budget.

To compile the primary change budget, also known as the Expansion Budget, the university elicits input from all areas of campus to determine the priorities based on the university's goals and objectives. The initial instructions received from UNC-GA [75] for the primary change budget are distributed directly from the counterpart UNC-GA units to the respective A&T units, such as Academic Affairs, Business and Finance, Development and University Relations, Research, and Student Affairs.

Based on the priorities set forth by the UNC-GA Board of Governors, the A&T units develop funding proposals that are aligned with the priorities set forth for the system institutions. Selected examples of the A&T priorities for the 2007-2009 biennium and the divisions, or departments that developed them are:

  • Campus safety initiative (from Student Affairs, Police and Public Safety);
  • 2+2 program (from Academic Affairs, School of Education);
  • Engineering Research Center (Academic Affairs, College of Engineering and Division of Research); and
  • Enrollment Growth Funding (Academic Affairs, all schools and colleges, institutional research, and budget and planning in the Division of Business and Finance. The proposal for enrollment growth requires input and discussion with most areas on campus. Enrollment growth funding is responsible for determining the projection for the number of new and returning students for the next biennium, the disciplines the students will major in, course delivery costs, additional library resources to facilitate growth, number of new faculty, amount of administrative support, and increases in financial aid.

Business and Finance develops a timeline for submission of proposals. Business and Finance compiles the individual proposals into a single request, which is reviewed by the Budget Advisory Committee to insure appropriate documentation, alignment with current goals and objectives, etc. Once vetted, the request is submitted to the chancellor and the chancellor's cabinet for review. The chancellor and cabinet develop the priority order of requests based on the university strategic plan, deciding what is most important for the advancement of the university.

For example, the 2007-2009 biennial budgets included the Joint School for Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN), a joint venture between A&T and the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and the Engineering Research Center, funded by the National Science Foundation and housed in the College of Engineering. Both of these were deemed top priorities based on the academic, research, and public service components of the strategic plan. Following closely behind these two were the campus safety project, a newly visible priority given the campus violence that had taken place at Virginia Tech and other campuses. There were six priorities submitted by A&T to UNC-GA in October 2009 [76]. The list of A&T priorities shows the linkage to specific UNC-GA priorities [76]. Several others priorities submitted by various A&T units were either tabled or combined with other initiatives in the review process.

The A&T Board of Trustees reviews and approves the budget, which is then submitted to the UNC System. Once approved by the UNC Board of Governors and the North Carolina General Assembly, the new funding is authorized and appropriated.

Budget Process - Revised: The vice chancellor for Business and Finance developed a budget allocation process for fiscal year 2009-2011 that begins with the Budget and Planning Office completing a long-range financial plan for the university, based on the priorities and initiatives identified by the senior leadership of the university. The plan will be shared with the chancellor's cabinet, the Budget Advisory Committee, and other key leaders, including the academic deans. The budget development guidelines will be disseminated and the budgets completed by the various units. The compiled budget will be reviewed and finalized by the Budget Advisory Committee and sent to the chancellor for review and approval. The final budget will be distributed to the various units. [77]

Supporting Documents

[1] BOG, Long-Range Plan 2002-2007, pp. 1-3

[2] Long Range Plan 2006-2011

[3] UNC Tomorrow, Commission Final Report, December, 2007, Mission Statement

[4] FUTURES, Uncompromising Excellence, 2003

[5] UNC Tomorrow Phase II Response

[6] Aggie Report: Special Strategic Planning Edition, Vol. 10, No. 17, April 17, 2009

[7] BOG Long-Range Plan 2002-2007, pp. 102-114

[8] SOT, Online PhD Technology Management SACS Joint Ventures Report

[9] Aggie Report, Special FUTURES Edition, April 2001

[10] FUTURES, Strategies in Motion, 2004

[11] FUTURES, Progress in Action, 2005

[12] FUTURES, Vision evolves . . . The Legacy begins, 2006

[13] FUTURES Accomplishments Academic Affairs

[14] Aggie Report, Special Edition - University Studies, Vol. 6, No. 6, October 22, 2004

[15] Graduate Catalog, Computational Science and Engineering, pp. 106-112

[16] Graduate Catalog, Energy and Environmental Studies, pp. 173-178

[17] Graduate Catalog, Leadership Studies, pp. 250-255

[18] Interdisciplinary Degree Programs: Enrollment and Graduation

[19] Policies, Joint Appointments Policy

[20] BOG Long-Range Plan 2002-2007, p. 39

[21] FUTURES, Ventures Grant awardees, 2002

[22] FUTURES, Ventures Grant awardees, 2003-2004

[23] FUTURES, Ventures Grant awardees, 2004-2005

[24] FUTURES, Ventures Grant awardees, 2005-2006

[25] FUTURES, Ventures Grant awardees, 2006-2007

[26] FUTURES, Ventures Funds Grants: 2002 to AY 2006-2007

[27] FUTURES, Uncompromising Excellence, 2003, p. 9

[28] Memo, Jan Merideth to Leadership Steering Committee, October 10, 2006

[29] Institute for Visionary Leadership, Class Roster

[30] Institute for Visionary Leadership, Curriculum

[31] Institute for Visionary Leadership, Goals of the Program

[32] Institute for Visionary Leadership, Evaluation and Assessment

[33] Institute for Visionary Leadership, Evaluation Form

[34] UNC Tomorrow Commission Final Report, December 2007, pp. 4

[35] Undergraduate Bulletin 1999-2001, p. 2

[36] Undergraduate Bulletin 2008-2010, p. 3

[37] Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, A&T Listing

[38] Undergraduate Bulletin, 2008-2010, Mission of the University, p. 3

[39] Research Funding FY04-FY09

[40] DORED, Award Comparison Totals FY03-FY06

[41] Research Awards FY04-FY09

[42] DORED, Award Comparison Totals FY03-FY06

[43] FUTURES, Uncompromising Excellence 2003, p. 13

[44] Fact Book, Open Fall Enrollment, 1999-2008

[45] Admission, Readmission, and Academic Standing . . . Policy

[46] Fact Book, Average SAT Scores, 2004-2008

[47] Fact Book, High School Rank

[48] University-wide RT, Retention/Graduation Goals and Hallmark Initiatives 2007-2012

[49] University-wide Retention Team Roster

[50] University-wide Retention Team, Final Report, November 5, 2007

[51] The Center for Student Success, Summary IRC Assessment Report

[52] CAE brochure

[53] High-Failure Rate Courses

[54] ATL Summary Report: Faculty Learning Community AY '07-'08

[55] UNST, Annual Report 2006-07, pp. 27, 35, 48, 61

[56] Proposal "Enhancing the First-Year Curriculum: Pedagogy, Interaction, Technology and Development

[57] UNST, Learning Community Questionnaire

[58] UNST, Learning Community Report, September 11, 2007

[59] UNST, Learning Community E-mail Virgil Renfro, to Lea E. Williams

[60] SI Program, 2007-2008 Annual Report, Executive Summary, p. 3

[61] SI Overview 2008

[62] SI, Lessons Learned

[63] UNST, Survey of Student Study Habits, Spring 2007, slide 3

[64] Wabash Study, Factors Affecting Student Success at A&T, pp. 1-2

[65] Summer Bridge Program, 2007 Report

[66] Summer Bridge Program, 2007, Students' Academic Progress,

[67] Summer Bridge Program, 2008 Report

[68] Summer Bridge Program, 2008, Students' Academic Progress,

[69] Summer Bridge Program, 2009, E-mail Cathy Dalton, committee chair to Lea E.

[70] Strategic Planning, 2009, Agenda, initial meeting, February 10, 2009

[71] Strategic Planning, 2009, Strategic Planning Council, Meeting Notes, Teams and Work Groups, February 10, 2009

[72] Strategic Planning, Agenda, initial strategic planning meeting, February 10, 2009

[73] Strategic Planning, Strategic Planning Council, Teams and Work Groups, Meeting Notes, February 17, 2009

[73] Strategic Planning, Internal Scan Team Report, April 15, 2009

[74] Peer institutions Approved by UNC System General Administration

[75] UNC System, Budget Instructions 2009-2011

[76] Business & Finance, UNC-System, Budget Priorities, FY 2009-2010 and FY 2010-2011

[77] Proposed Budget Allocation Process FY 2009-2011

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