The WASC Task Force has produced the following newsletters:

Newsletter 1: Volume 1, Number 1; Spring, 1998

Newsletter 2: Volume 1, Number 2;  Summer, 1998

Newsletter 3: Volume 2, Number 3; Spring, 1999

Newsletter 4: Volume 2, Number 4; Winter, 1999

Newsletter 1

A New WASC Self Study


WASC's Nine Standards

The Self Study Themes: Student Learning

Faculty and Staff Learning

The Environment for Learning

The WASC Self Study Team

Promoting a Culture of Evidence

The WASC Subcommittees

  1. Student Learning

  2. Faculty & Staff Learning

  3. Environment for Learning


A little bit of background

The prospect of a new self study for re-accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is enough to send fear and trembling throughout the Cal State Fullerton body. With good reason: every nine or ten years, we are asked to assemble a voluminous (two BIG volumes in 1990, to be precise) compilation of data to prove to WASC that we meet the rigorous standards that govern major universities. It is a daunting task. The report must cover all facets of our operation, from landscaping to finance, from teaching to students' health care. It's a time-consuming and expensive project involving hundreds of hours of tedious data collection.

With WASC's blessing, our current self study is designed to be different. WASC has approved our proposal to assess progress toward our University's Mission and Goals in three specific theme areas: Student Learning, Faculty and Staff Learning, and the Environment for Learning. While some of the "traditional" data collecting to demonstrate our compliance with WASC's Nine Standards (see below) is mandated, the bulk of our self study will be our evaluation of ourselves in areas that represent the essence of what we want to do. We say "learning is preeminent." We're going to find out what that really means.


More pertinent background

The self study planning team that designed the theme approach consisted of Judith Anderson (Executive Vice President), Joe Arnold (the director of ITL), Tom Klammer (Associate Vice President for Academic Programs), Mike Parker (our technology guru), Jerry Samuelson (Dean of the School of the Arts) and Dolores Vura (Director of Analytical Studies). The team responded to an invitation by Ralph Wolff, executive director of WASC's Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, to develop a "thematic, mission-based, planning-directed self study." The reasons for the change in WASC's instructions are many. WASC itself is changing in response to new U.S. Department of Education regulations and preparing a new handbook to guide future accreditations. WASC is also aware that accreditations are expensive, costing as much as $300,000 for a University of California campus and upwards of $150,000 for a CSU campus. Campuses should get some lasting benefit from this costly undertaking.

In their proposal, the planning team stressed the following points:

•     A key goal of such thematic, mission-based, planning-directed self studies is to foster within institutions a "culture of evidence," that is, an expectation among all campus constituencies that decisions will be based on data, that systematic assessment will be part of every program, and that claims about quality will be supported by documentation. The challenge for campuses and for WASC has always been how to validate self studies. The solution proposed is to base the self study on the assessment of evidence.

•     Traditional self studies placed heavy emphasis on documenting the material resources available to the campus, but gave little attention to the outcomes achieved with those resources, frequently ignoring student learning outcomes, perhaps hardest to assess, yet central to the purposes for which colleges and universities exist. Placing student learning at the center of a campus self study raises important questions: What are the right learning outcomes? What are the best forms of assessment? Out of the answers to questions such as these, WASC hopes to develop its new standards for 2000 and beyond.

In addition to identifying the three themes centered around learning, the planning team established goals for the self study as follows:


  1. To assess progress in accomplishing the University's Mission, Goals and Strategies and thereby to document the strengths of the University in key areas related to its mission.

  2. Through reflective self-assessment, to develop a clearer sense of the University's future directions and a campus-wide recognition of the implications of those directions.

  3. To satisfy with distinction the requirements for reaffirmation of the University's WASC accreditation.


Deep background

The new approach contrasts greatly with existing WASC guidelines. The current nine standards that guide accreditation invariably produce a cumbersome, data-laden multi-volume product that lacks integrating themes. In the past, WASC has wanted data, and in response, campuses produced just that. WASC will want some of these data again from us, but in a much abbreviated fashion. The nine standards are:


  1. Institutional integrity: To quote WASC: "There is no norm of greater value for educational institutions than academic freedom. Political, social, religious, or philosophical beliefs may inform the curriculum, but most not restrict scholarly research, teaching and discussion."

  2. Institutional purposes, planning and effectiveness. WASC wants to know that the mission is tied into planning and have developed mechanisms for evaluating progress towards its mission.

  3. Governance and administration. A diverse and representative board advises the president, the role of faculty is substantial and the role of students is clearly defined.

  4. Educational programs. The institution supports quality programs, obviously, but the standard also calls for integrated research, scholarship and instruction for faculty and students, emphasizes academic planning, and careful records of assessment.

  5. Faculty and staff. The faculty must have central responsibility for the academic program, and opportunities for development of faculty and staff must be present.

  6. Library, computing and other information and learning resources. In addition to currency and quantity, WASC looks at accessibility and availability.

  7. Student services and the co-curricular learning environment. Does the University support activities that assist students of diverse backgrounds, and does it make clear the rights and responsibilities of students?

  8. Physical resources. The offices that leak in every rainstorm in University Hall would not make WASC happy.

  9. Financial resources. WASC looks at budgeting and planning as well as financial management and organization. External fundraising is covered here as well.


Each standard is accompanied by "sub-standards" that relate to it (athletics is part of the co-curricular environment, for example), and WASC gives both explicit and general guidelines for the kind of documentation it expects.


The self study themes

The overall theme is our effort to determine what it means to say that "learning is preeminent" at CSUF. Our theme is divided into three components with specific objectives for each.


Focus on Student Learning

Using information derived from surveys, tests, focus groups, and other sources, the self study should document the University's contribution to


  1. student academic development, performance and achievement

  2. student career development

  3. student personal development; and

  4. student satisfaction with their learning.


Our aim is to integrate these four perspectives by striving to answer the questions, "What are the 'marks' of the Fullerton student?" and "What are the 'marks' of the Fullerton graduate?" Current student and alumni voices, as well as their performance and achievement, will be sources of evidence in connection with this theme.


Focus on Faculty and Staff Learning

Using information derived from surveys, focus groups, and other sources, the self study should document the University's contribution to


  1. the professional accomplishments and achievements of faculty band staff;

  2. the professional development of faculty and staff and institutional support for it; and

  3. faculty and staff satisfaction with support for learning on the campus.


The assumptions underlying this second focus are that student learning is linked inextricably with faculty and staff learning and that campus conditions fostering faculty and staff learning are an important part of what is required for the creation and support of powerful student learning communities.


Focus on the Environment for Learning

Using information derived from surveys and focus groups, the self study should explore the quality of the university's environment for learning, both internal to the campus and in the external community, for students, faculty, and staff. We will assess the quality and effectiveness of


  1. multicultural communication and interaction on campus;

  2. our evolving sense of community; and

  3. our facilities, technology, and other infrastructure for the support of learning.


By focusing on these three areas, the self study will enable us to assess our campus climate, the adaptation of the campus to and for the diversity of its students and employees, the contributions of campus governance, and the interrelations of the social and physical contexts that provide the setting for learning at the University.


Composition of the Task Force

The task force consists of 30 members drawn from all major divisions of the University (Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Administrative Affairs and University Advancement), including nine faculty members nominated by the CSUF Academic Senate. Representation also includes students, alumni and a representative from the community.

The task force has been subdivided into three subcommittees, each assigned to one of the three theme areas. Chairs of these subcommittees constitute a Steering Committee together with the Associate Vice-President for Academic Programs (who is also the WASC liaison), the Director of Analytical Studies and the Executive Director of the Task Force. Each of these three has been assigned to a subcommittee to serve as a "technical" advisor and recorder.


Promoting the Culture of Evidence

Existing data are being identified and are being collected to serve as resources for the theme subcommittees. These include large and small scale studies, such as the SNAPS survey, the annual statistical summary compiled by our Office of Analytical Studies, various focus group reports conducted for other projects as well as the "standard" measurements used in any number of reports generated by the institution.

The "job" of the subcommittees is to think about these data. Members are asked to record their thoughts and share them with one another, think about these discussions and record their thoughts again. This iterative process will be shared with a larger audience--the other subcommittees, specifically--to generate new, or refine old, ideas. From this process we expect that subcommittees will determine if new data need to be generated.

The larger community will be informed and invited to become involved through a bi-monthly newsletter to be distributed campus wide, and a Web site incorporating a discussion forum. We know that assessment of learning is taking place in many locations around the campus and we hope our colleagues will share their experiences.


The Task Force

The Task Force is divided into three subcommittees dealing with the themes of the Self Study.

Subcommittee on Student Learning

Pat Szeszulski is Chair of the subcommittee and is Associate Professor in Child and Adolescent Studies. Joe Arnold Is Professor of Theater and Dance and Associate Dean in the School of the Arts. Joe also headed our Institute for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning. Kristine Buse is one of our student representatives and is a sophomore majoring in political science. David Fromson is Professor of Biology and Associate Dean of the School of Natural Science and Mathematics. Richard Pollard is the University Librarian. Judy Ramirez is Professor in Child and Adolescent Studies and Chair of the Division of Child, Family and Community Studies in the School of Human Development and Community Services. Ramona Schneider represents our alumni. Darlene Stevenson is Director of Housing and Residential Life. Mary Kay Tetreault is Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dolores Vura is Director of Analytical Studies and serves on the subcommittee as a member of the Self Study Steering Committee.


Subcommittee on Faculty and Staff Learning

Dave DeVries is Chair of the subcommittee and Professor of Communications. Rhonda Allen is Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice in the Division of Political Science and Criminal Justice. Friedhild Brainard is the office manager of Financial Aid. Don Castro is Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. David Falconer is Associate Professor of Computer Science and Associate Dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science. Harry Gianneschi is Vice President of University Advancement. Willie Hagan is Vice President of Administrative Affairs. Jessica Medinais a student representative and she is a sophomore double majoring in human services and criminal justice. Larry Zucker is Associate Vice President in University Advancement. Sandra Sutphen is Professor of Political Science and serves on the subcommittee as a member of the Self Study Steering Committee.


Subcommittee on the Campus Environment for Learning

Ray Youngis Professor of Geography and Chair of the subcommittee. Judith Anderson is Executive Vice President of the University. Dorothy Edwards is Director of Human Resources Operations. John Lawrence is Professor of Management Science and Information Systems in the School of Business Administration and Economics. Jeff Newell is our third student representative and is a senior majoring in Human Services. Bob Palmer is Vice President for Student Affairs. Melinda White is Supervisor of the Work Control Center in Physical Plant. Co Wilkins is an Environmental Health and Safety Officer. Tom Klammer is Associate Vice President for Academic Programs and serves on the subcommittee as a member of the Self Study Steering Committee.


The Self Study Steering Committee consists of the three chairs of the subcommittees plus Tom Klammer, Dolores Vura, and Sandra Sutphen, Executive Director of the Self Study.


Newsletter 2

Volume 1, Number 2;  Summer, 1998


Learning from others:

Wharton experience

Best Practices experience

Reports from the Subcommittees

Subcommittee on Student Learning

Subcommittee on Faculty and Staff Learning

Subcommittee on the Environment for Learning

Resources and Data



Traveling the Continent in Search of Models for Student-Centered Learning

Members of the WASC Self Study Committee participated in two national projects designed to help us define what a student-centered learning environment can be. The first was conducted by The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania), its Institute for Research on Higher Education and the Knight Collaborative (formerly the Pew Roundtable).

The Chancellor’s Office invited CSU campuses to participate in a week-long seminar on "Managing Higher Education" with a particular focus on student learning. All 22 campuses applied, and ten were chosen: Bakersfield, Cal Poly Pomona, Dominguez Hills, Fresno, Fullerton, Los Angeles, Northridge, Sacramento, San Bernardino and Sonoma. Harold Goldwhite (CSU Institute for Teaching and Learning) and Jim Highsmith (CSU Academic Senate) also attended. Most of the campuses, like us, were at some stage of their accreditation process with WASC. Our "team" included Ellen Junn, Director of the Faculty Development Center, and four members of the WASC self study committee: Dave Fromson, Tom Klammer, Bob Palmer and Sandra Sutphen.

We spent a long week, starting with breakfast meetings at 7:30 and ending at 9:00 in the evening. At Friday’s concluding meeting, the Wharton folks told us that of all the groups they have instructed—including stock brokers, business executives and civic leaders—the CSU campuses were the group that was the most controlling and demanding; we refused to behave like students; we insisted on more information; we rejected their premises; we challenged them at every opportunity. We’re not accustomed to such flattery and we don’t know what we did to deserve such high praise from Wharton, but we accepted their judgment with great modesty, and came home better people.


What we learned

What we learned was that our brother and sister campuses are all working with similar problems of assessing student learning. Many campuses are doing just what we are doing: developing new learning goals for general education, spending more time on faculty development particularly as it relates to technology, and focusing seriously on what it means to be a student-centered learning institution.

There was a bit of a mismatch between Wharton and the CSU. We thought we were there to learn about student learning and assessment; Wharton wanted to teach us about negotiation, bargaining and strategy. We spent the first sessions adjusting to each other’s expectations (actually, we adjusted to theirs), using break-out sessions to formulate ideas to share with our own campuses.

We were critical of any number of assumptions that Wharton built into the seminar. Faculty in management and administration will recognize many of the concepts that Wharton faculty teach: "win/win" negotiation, "interest-based" bargaining, flattening hierarchies, team-building, participatory management, quality circles, empowering employees, shared governance. Drawing from "Total Quality Management," the same approach that led to "reinventing government," the Wharton approach acknowledged that business and industry are moving toward management theories that, frankly, have characterized universities all along.

Despite our criticism, the final session (beginning at 7:30 in the morning!) was a great success. We were divided into groups of five, representing five different campuses. We "toured" poster displays of the campuses and representatives from each campus presented their perception of what a student-centered learning environment means for their campus communities. We talked about "action plans" and provided feedback based on our own sets of experience and expectations about what "learning" really means. For the "team" from Fullerton, this feedback took the form of reaffirming that the many different ways in which teaching and learning are assessed here are also strategies and tools employed throughout the CSU. In short, we left Wharton with the strong feeling that our WASC Self Study Team is moving in the right direction.


Visiting "Best Practices" Institutions

Our second experience involved visits to "best practices" campuses around the country, identified by the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC), a "think tank" in Houston. The CSU is a sponsoring member for several projects that APQC is conducting, all centered around issues of assessment and learning. ("Assessing Learning Outcomes" is the title of the current project.) This particular APQC project involves higher education, primarily, but also includes sponsors from the private sector, such as Raytheon. The goal is to locate institutions (public and private, business, government and education) that have developed models, or strategies, or practices that others may use.

"Best Practices" institutions were selected by APQC for site visits, and, as a sponsor, the CSU invited our campus to send one individual to each site for a one-day intensive seminar. Vice President Tetreault asked the WASC Self Study Committee members to volunteer, and though the notice was short and the timing bad ("April is the cruelest month. . ."), Dave Falconer went to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s University on April 6, Pat Szeszulski went to the University of Phoenix in Arizona on April 17, Sandra Sutphen went to Emporia State University in Kansas on April 20, and Dave DeVries went to Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana on April 30.

We’re still comparing notes on what we observed at these "best practices" institutions, but, again, one clear observation is that Cal State Fullerton’s focus on learning—and the many and varied ways in which we assess that learning—qualifies us for "best practices" standing. There are different models, of course. Smaller institutions, even though they have fewer faculty, are able to work more intimately with students in smaller classes and, frequently, with students who reside on campus. State higher education laws mandate courses of study different from California’s Title V.

We found one experience that was shared by nearly all institutions: when assessment of student learning "works," everyone—faculty, students, employers, and the state legislatures (!)—feels more positively about the university. What does it mean when assessment "works"? Students present to prospective employers a portfolio that demonstrates their acquired skills; outside evaluators rate a department’s assessment measures; students successfully complete basic competency exams; expectations for excellent course work are well understood by students and faculty alike: all represent the kind of "culture of evidence" that we will be documenting in our own WASC self study.

Reports from the Sub-committees

The Self Study Subcommittees are engaged in defining the scope of our themes and collecting data and resources to present evidence about learning and assessment. There’s been a lot of progress, as each of the subcommittee chairs report.

Student Learning Subcommittee

Pat Szeszulski

As has been the case with all the subcommittees, we have engaged in a variety of activities in order to define the scope of our work. Members of the committee have read a number of philosophical papers on student learning, gathered and considered a great deal of evidence on issues related to student learning at CSUF, and met regularly to discuss all the evidence. During this process, the committee made the decision to focus on a limited number of key issues related to how to educate a diverse student body for the 21st century. Furthermore, we decided to study each issue in great detail rather than covering all possible issues superficially. To facilitate consensus regarding which issues would be pursued, members of the committee participated in a three-hour brainstorming session using Ventana GroupSystems; a software program that allows participants to contribute their ideas anonymously and simultaneously while working at separate workstations. Our session in the Library Studio Classroom on April 28 comprised three phases. First, 82 ideas were generated in response to the prompt, "What questions about student learning should this committee examine in order to be able to address whether or not University practice is consistent with the goals of its mission?" Second, the responses were reviewed and redundant ideas were combined. Third, participants used a 5-point scale (strongly agree to strongly disagree) to vote whether each of the remaining 76 ideas should be considered by the committee. (Several additional "consensus building" phases had been planned for the session, but were abandoned due to the profound slowness of the system). Independent reviews of the resultant data yielded a "philosophical/definitional" category (e.g., What is learning? What is assessment?) as well as the following four broad categories of "evidence" (particular foci) related to educating a diverse student body.


Who Are Our Student Learners? (Demographics; Student concerns and preparation)  Factors That Influence Learning (Academic &Technological resources; Student/faculty collaboration, Community-based and co-curricular experiences )  Learning Goals (Marks of a CSUF graduate/education; GE and selected other programs that have developed learning goals)  Assessment of Learning (Graduates/seniors opinions; Selected programs/departments and initiatives (e.g., Fullerton First Year) working on assessment)

This evidence will be collected in order to address the following:

  1. How students experience the University

  2. How students come to understand their own positionality in relation to others

  3. The relationship between (a) and (b) and what we do in the curriculum and the classroom.

  4. How assessment of (c) informs our planning for the future.


Faculty and Staff Learning Subcommittee

Dave DeVries

Our committee decided quickly that many of the traditional indicators for faculty learning were good measures that stood the test of objective assessment. An enumeration of peer reviewed publications, exhibitions, performances and conference presentations is part of the "culture of evidence" that demonstrates continued professional involvement, and presumptively, continued learning. Sources for these data are easily gathered from departmental year-end reports, Compendium announcements, and acknowledgement at the annual recognition day sponsored by the VPAA. We agreed that there were any number of other indicators, some easier to collect and organize than others. Among these are

  • • workshop attendance

  • • grants received

  • • school/departmental retreats

  • • new courses developed

  • • active membership in professional associations

  • • use of new technology

  • • classes taken


We anticipated that the newly created Faculty Development Center will work closely with our subcommittee, both in providing data from past efforts sponsored by the Institute for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, as well as informing us of new directions for faculty learning. For example, we agreed that it would be useful to have comparative data from other institutions, especially those with a long history of formalized faculty development.

Arriving at measurements for staff learning was less straightforward. We found some obvious indicators:


  • • Classes taken at CSUF and elsewhere ("fee waiver")\

  • • Degrees earned while working at CSUF

  • • PSI awards and other recognitions

  • • Workshops/conferences attended

  • • Use of new technology


During our discussions about staff learning, we felt the need for what we called "anecdotal" material, or "data" based on responses about opportunities for learning from staff who had taken advantage of these moments (and, we began to get a bit of feedback from some staff members about their own experiences). Because the university has recently redirected resources to provide a staff development program, headed by Naomi Goodwin and Robin Innes, we expect to find not only more courses and workshops but also more data to support the "culture of evidence" about staff learning.

We know about some studies that have been done on campus—including some longitudinal data—about faculty involvement in learning, but we were surprised at how little material has been gathered about staff learning. We anticipate that correcting this deficiency will be a high priority for our work in the Fall.



Campus Environment for Learning Subcommittee

Ray Young

The campus environment for learning is a deceptively straightforward construct. To many observers the first environments which come to mind are the meso-scale "bricks and mortar" of the campus such as particular buildings or their internal classrooms, offices, and the infrastructure necessary to make those function effectively. Yet, our learning environments reach far beyond that while also operating in more subtle, behavioral domains. A full assessment of the environment for learning must include macro-level components literally from "A" (the arboretum) to "Z" (Desert Studies Center at Zzyzx).

The subcommittee also noted the importance of service and business environments that can facilitate or distract one from learning. These would include such components as the Admissions and Records department, Disabled Student Services office, campus food services, the computer "Roll Out," Library, unforgettable parking, public safety, and the Titan Student Union. Moreover, the essence of Cal State Fullerton is expressed by its connections with the larger regional community, through which the public learns about our breadth and strengths. Those connectivity environments range from athletic events and fine arts programs to special recruitment or fundraising efforts and CLE, the Continuing Learning Experience.

We have identified more than 50 distinct components to the campus learning environment which may provide indicators of how well we are implementing our campus Mission and Goals. Space available here does not permit a full recitation of that listing. However, the subcommittee has arrived at a consensus about the particular components that deserve closer attention for the WASC accreditation process. Based on a priority ranking system and group discussions, those are:

  1. Classrooms

  2. General Campus Aura

  3. Landscaping & Pathways

  4. Parking

  5. Faculty Offices

  6. Building Appearance

  7. Safety Elements, including campus lighting

  8. Admissions & Records

  9. Mission Viejo Campus

  10. Physical Plant and Support Services

  11. Service Areas / Work Rooms

  12. Staff and Administrative Offices

  13.  Student Services Units

  14.  Outdoor Gathering Places

  15.  Student Interactive Spaces

  16.  Residence Halls

  17.  Student Organizations

  18. Titan Student Union (aka University Center)

Presenting such a list quickly begs at least two interpretive questions: Do these components represent areas of concern or are they components generally believed to be important attributes of a strong university . . . or both? Could some components of the campus environment for learning have been omitted from this list because they are now perceived of as functioning quite well (such as the library)?

While there are various sources of evidence to paint a clear picture of some of these components, we have a long way to go in understanding how users (various groups of learners) rate the importance of, and satisfaction with, other elements. The subcommittee plans to conduct further research, including focused surveys, during the coming months to expand our state of knowledge about many of these themes. A reexamination of existing evidence, coupled with new perspectives, will enable us to give a more thorough assessment to the WASC reviewers but, just as importantly, provide planning guidance to on-campus decision-makers long after the formal WASC process has concluded.


Resources and Data

Dolores Vura compiled a list of the most readily available data (some of these have been distributed to the Task Force). Here’s where the campus community can help the Task Force enormously. What measures do you know about that we have neglected to mention here? Contact us by filling out the response form in this newsletter.


  • • Profiles of New Undergraduate Students, Fall 1997

  • • Undergraduate Student Focus Groups Report

  • • Student Needs and Priorities Survey [SNAPS] Spring, 1994; Report Fall, 1994

  • • Faculty Selected Statistics, Fall, 1980 to Fall, 1997 (includes age projections)

  • • Educational Equity Retention Grant; Reports on survey results

  • • Campus Climate Report, Student Affairs

  • • Classroom Renovation Report


Other materials available:

  • • Statistical Handbooks, Fall, 1986 through Fall, 1997

  • • Guidelines for Annual Reports and Program Performance Reviews

  • • Increasing Student Learning Proposals, Guidelines, and reports from nine funded projects

  • • Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats [SWOT] Analysis from the University Planning Committee

  • • Graduation Rates Reports, compiled annually for NCAA for the Fall, 1983 through Fall, 1990 cohort.

  • • Retention Grants reports, funded by President’s Office

  • • Collaborative Learning Grants reports, funded under Robert and Louise Lee Collaborative Teaching Award

  • • WASC Interim Report, filed December 1994

  • • CSUF Mission, Goals and Strategies

  • • CSU Cornerstones

  • • Senate Forum articles

  • • Institute for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (IATL) documents and newsletter

  • • GE Committee’s reports including new Learning Goals and curricular experiments

  • • Fullerton First Year [FFY] assessment reports

  • • UPS 210 revision committee

  • • Social Science Research Center study on attrition.

  • • SAS study of admitted students who do not enroll, Fall, 1996

  • • Social Science Research Center study of faculty workload

  • • Two uses of ACT outcomes survey: GE committee, and SSRC study of alumni

  • • Career Development Center’s annual survey of recent graduates

  • • Pat Wegner’s study of introductory chemistry students

  • • Tania Marien’s MA thesis tracking learning of introductory biology majors

  • • Tom Mayes’ Student Assessment Center: measuring performance outcomes of business majors

  • • Lynne McVeigh’s study of MVC students, Fall, 1997

  • • Senate surveys in conjunction with Spring elections

  • • NSM’s NSF grant for Undergraduate Education

  • • Chancellor’s Office Division of Analytic Studies Website, for comparative campus and system-wide statistics.

  • • Norm Page’s study of small group collaboration


Newsletter 3

Volume 2, No. 3. Spring, 1999

ICampus-wide Forum

Joint WASC Task Force and UPC efforts

Feedback on Phase I

Plans for Phase II

RFP for Learning Outcomes Assessment Projects


Lead story: Campus Planning and the WASC Self Study

One hundred or so faculty, staff and students met on Friday afternoon, November 13, in a campus-wide forum, to discuss the relationship between campus planning and the WASC Self Study. Sponsored jointly by the Self-Study Steering Committee and the University Planning Committee (UPC), participants attended a plenary session led by President Milton Gordon and then adjourned into study sessions. The sessions focused on initiatives begun at the campus and system levels and participants were asked to address these questions:

  1. Cornerstones: how can systemwide planning support our campus planning?

  2. The Marks of a Fullerton Graduate: what will implementation at the program level involve?

  3. WASC Self Study Phase I: what does it mean to say CSUF is a student-centered learning environment?


Summarizing such broadly inclusive and wide ranging discussion isn't easy, but some general perceptions can be noted. There is strong interest and support for both local campus efforts--the WASC Self Study and the "Marks"-- to focus planning efforts around student learning. There is deep suspicion about the Cornerstones implementation plan. We conclude that when the process of defining an initiative (read: change) is inclusive, when it reaches deeply into the community to gather feedback, when it is allowed to mature at its own pace, when it includes as much "bottom-up" participation as "top-down" management, and when that initiative is substantially and meaningfully changed as a result of feedback and participation, it is more likely to be supported. We also note that there is great interest on the part of Student and Administrative Affairs in working more closely with Academic Affairs to improve the learning environment through expanding co-curricular endeavors, removing bureaucratic hurdles, facilitating technological training and innovations, and reaching out to the larger community.


The Cornerstones discussion was facilitated by Tom Klammer and Pat Szeszulski. Consultation concerning how to implement Cornerstones is now underway, with discussion focussed on a draft implementation plan distributed to CSU campus presidents by David S. Spence, Executive Vice Chancellor, on October 16, 1998. The draft implementation plan "is intended as a starting point for campus discussion." Its purpose, according to Spence, is "to spark systemwide discussion," and, indeed, such has occurred. Our Academic Senate debated the topic for two meetings, culminating in passage of several resolutions just the day before the WASC/UPC forum. In putting Cornerstones on the forum agenda, the Self-Study Team and UPC were hoping for comment and input from others on the campus, in addition to the faculty.

Spence's implementation plan concerns seven Cornerstones goals, as follows:

  1. Each university will strengthen baccalaureate education through student learning outcomes and assessment.

  2. Each university will assure the quality of the baccalaureate experience and process.

  3. Each university will examine its programs to ensure that current programs are needed, effective, and have appropriate and understandable requirements.

  4. Universities will make their services more accessible in time and place by removing, to the extent possible, constraints on teaching and learning caused by time or location.

  5. The CSU will support system and university-wide efforts to increase the number and proportions of high school students who are prepared for college-level study upon entry, and in the process, reduce the percentages of students needing remedial education.

  6. The CSU will increase access to education beyond the baccalaureate, including degree and certificate programs as well as other forms of continuing and professional education.

  7. The CSU and each university will make systematic progress toward achieving the conditions that will allow faculty to play their integral role in implementing the plan.


In all three forum discussion sessions, the relationship among the various divisions of the University consumed much of the energy of the participants, and the Cornerstones discussion was no exception. Faculty tended to be very suspicious of the implementation plan. Though the preceding seven goals seem innocent enough, Spence's suggestions for implementation raised many questions. Given the faculty’s heavy work load, who will develop and implement new forms of assessment, if that is what is envisioned in "A"? How will "C" be implemented and which programs will be discontinued, if, indeed, that is the goal? Does the emphasis in "D" mean more "distance learning" when the concept is still in the developmental stage and largely untested? Does it mean fewer tenure track faculty and more part-timers? Will the emphasis in "F" turn the CSU away from the liberal arts as the basis for a university education and substitute a narrower form of professional and technical training? And how will the attention to high school student preparation be achieved?

Some of the faculty's suspicion was shared by other University divisions, but forum participants from Student and Administrative Affairs and University Advancement also saw opportunities to make Cal State Fullerton's emphasis on student learning more central. These participants saw openings for greater outreach to the community, more occasions for tying the co-curricular experience to academic programs, and validation for efforts to make student support services more accessible and useful.


Marks of a Fullerton Graduate
Beginning in fall 1996, as part of an Academic Priorities project in Academic Affairs, the Council of Deans and academic departments took up the question, "What are, or should be, the marks of a Cal State Fullerton graduate?"The project was a beginning attempt to identify learning outcomes from a programmatic and school-wide perspective. These "Marks" were discussed, and individualized, at the department and school level. After the Vice President for Academic Affairs presented the "Marks" to the President's Advisory Board, President Gordon asked the UPC to broaden the "Marks" into a statement that might represent a definition of the goals of student learning at the University level. Following the pattern it had established in drafting the University's mission statement, the UPC sought consensus among other Divisions in addition to Academic Affairs. Finally, the UPC distributed the statement to the university community and asked for feedback.

The most recent set of Marks is as follows:

  1. Our students enter with a continuum of education needs and graduate prepared to achieve their personal, civic, educational and career goals

  2. Our students develop the habit of intellectual inquiry and are able to communicate effectively

  3. Our students use state-of-the-art technology

  4. Our students work effectively in multicultural environments

  5. Our students work effectively in collaborative settings


Kandy Mink, who, with Judith Anderson, served as co-facilitator for the "Marks" session, reports that there was lively debate over whether or not the "Marks" were sufficient to define CSUF students as "unique" and whether they defined completely what the CSUF academic experience contains. Suggestions for expanding the "Marks" included adding components that made our multicultural environment more prominent, stressed preparation for life-long learning, and adapting to the changing global environment. Other suggestions included expanding opportunities for working closely with faculty, for studying abroad, for service learning, and for reflecting "transcending values" such as citizenship, ethics, and spiritual development.

Participants also suggested numerous ways in which the "Marks" might change the campus learning experience. They thought that a wider discussion about the marks should take place among students and alumni. "Marks" could help guide the curriculum by being included as course objectives and in end of semester assessments. "Marks" could be used in recruiting new students, in obtaining grants, and in public affairs publications such as Compendium. Kandy suggested that there was also agreement that individual programs would need to adapt the "Marks" to suit the needs of each specialty, and that the generality of the "Marks" served only as a guide.


Phase I of the WASC Self Study
Phase I of the Self Study was completed in October, 1998, and states, unsurprisingly, that there are positive and negative findings throughout the campus for the three Self-Study themes.

With respect to "student learning," the study found that there are many programs containing "best practices" examples and that individual examples of student learning outcomes are plentiful. On the other hand, the study found that there is no universal focus on learning outcomes or assessment at the program and department level. Though "traditional" measures of faculty learning, such as publications, grants, and other scholarly and creative efforts are widespread and useful, the whole area of staff learning has been significantly neglected until recently. Problems were found in the campus environment for learning where budget cuts have affected support services and building conditions. There is evidence that many share a general feeling that a sense of community on the campus is weak. However, the Self Study team also found that the campus involvement with the external community is broad and strong. The team cited the Student Affairs Division which completed a self study to improve responsiveness as the first piece of evidence for "Phase II" of the study that will document campus efforts to provide an environment that enhances learning.

Dave DeVries, Sandra Sutphen, and Ray Young co-facilitated the sessions. Student Affairs professionals, themselves quite comfortable with assessment techniques used in counseling and testing, were nonplussed over the apprehension expressed by some faculty about documenting student learning outcomes. However, there was great agreement on what would need to change to bring about a student-centered learning environment. Students would not be timid, and they would not be passive learners. They would be collaborating with faculty and other students and actively engaged in their own learning. (Where that is, we believe, now taking place, we agreed that more documentation is needed.)

"In a truly student-centered environment, students' best interests would drive the decision-making process," said one faculty sage. "The implication for faculty is that they will spend more time thinking about their students and how to teach better." Several offices on campus were mentioned for their reputation as lacking friendliness to students. Part of what would change would include giving more support to staff during technical upgrades. And everyone agreed that in a learning centered environment there would be more places for students, faculty and staff to gather together in informal settings (MJ's Espresso was universally praised).


A formal "wrap up" session never materialized as, the late hour prevailing, 40 or so of the participants shared their thoughts informally over delicious food and agreed that we'd done enough "thinking" for the day. As always, the opportunity to share thoughts among both new and familiar colleagues was the best part of the experience.


Working Together: WASC and UPC

On October 9, the WASC Self Study Task Force met with the University Planning Committee (UPC) to "think about" what we wanted to accomplish at the University wide Forum we were planning for November 13. We had a general idea. Judith Anderson, Executive Vice President, had been meeting with the WASC Steering Committee, and membership in the UPC overlapped somewhat with WASC. Among the members of both committees, we also have representation from the major "interest groups" on campus: the Academic Senate, all of the University's Divisions (Academic, Student and Administrative Affairs, and Advancement, plus the President's Office), alumni, the Orange County "community" and Associated Students--though the latter three are less well represented than all of us wish, particularly the students.

President Gordon got us started and after that we heard Judith Anderson, Tom Klammer and Sandra Sutphen in another of what must be for most an increasingly redundant rehash of where we've been, what we're doing, and where we hope to go. (I should exempt Judith from this, but there are no excuses for Tom and me.) The Steering Committee collaborated on a set of questions that really interested us, questions that--as it turns out--would "inform" (to use, I'm sure, passé deconstructionist jargon) not only this "conversation" (to use a Boyumism) but the forum, too.

Here are the three questions we asked:

  1. What are the qualities of a student-centered learning community?

  2. What are the implications of what it means to be a student-centered learning community for students, faculty and staff, and the campus environment? What would change?

  3. How does CSUF know that it has such a student-centered learning community? What does it look like?


In one form or another, these familiar questions represent the core of our Self Study (and we invite you to respond to them, if you haven't had the chance before, or even if you have!).

Unlike our usual "let the balloons just float" (I made that up), our organization was very structured that day. We had five minutes to "think" about these questions, five more to write down our thoughts, 20 minutes to share them, then on to the next question!

Who was it who said that dealing with academicians is the same as trying to herd cats? The faculty, staff, students, alumni and community representatives at our meeting resisted my totalitarian commands--why did they persist in getting so interested in the subject?--but, in the end, the stringent rules produced, for me, some surprising results

We numbered 40 persons, and most of us wrote several comments to each question. The content analysis of the couple hundred individual comments we received isn't yet complete but I've looked at them all (they're anonymous, of course: Jennifer [our staff] typed them without identifying those who signed theirs, and we didn't ask for names), and I know that we had as many faculty as staff and administrators and too few students, and I'm struck by this:


•     In response to the question of "implications," there is a sizeable sample that says we should be accountable for what we do. That is, we are a "public" institution and warrant public inspection of our record. I haven't "totaled" it. . . certainly, it's not a majority opinion. . . but to have it volunteered so frequently should satisfy the State Legislature about our sense of "responsibility."

•      Members of this group, as opposed to what I sense is the sentiment of the Academic Senate (I'm a member), is much less fearful of "outcomes assessment" in their own individual teaching, or their program performance.

•      On the whole, this is a group that supports innovation and experimentation in technology and pedagogy, providing that it is well supported, of course!


Among some --among, well, at least a third--there is an underlying skepticism, maybe cynicism, certainly distrust of administrators/faculty/unions/staff, and students.

As a public administrator, I'd say we have a lot of community building to do. And, after a full year in this job of "executive director of the WASC Self Study," this session with our Task Force and the UPC showed me--and I'm sure everyone involved--that while the basis we have is pretty solid, we have a ways to go.


Feedback on Phase I of the Self Study.

We ran into some technical problems, as they [always] say, with our Web site, which limited everyone's ability to see Phase I, much less provide feedback. We were very embarrassed, but those problems are now fixed, and we encourage everyone to take a look at our site and let us know what you think.

While we were circulating parts of our draft, however, we did receive some comments, a few of which have been incorporated into our "final" version, and some of which will be added to the site and can be found by clicking on our "NEW" button. When we sent our "WASC horror story" case study to Melinda White of Physical Plant, Melinda responded with information we didn't have. We'd complained about the long wait we experienced in getting an office painted. Melinda told us about the enormous cuts experienced during the 1992 budget shortfall and how maintenance suffered as a result. Her comments helped us see that the priorities of the University went to protecting the academic program to the detriment of the other Divisions in the University. We were forced to moderate our petulant criticism, and we encourage you to read Melinda's comments in the case study.

We were also very critical of the long time it took for some of us to get travel reimbursements. Linda Osburn and Cheryl Perreira responded with an explanation that mirrored much of what Melinda told us. Their response will be posted under "NEW" on the Web site "soon." (Okay, we confess: we're not positive that all the problems have been fixed on the site!)

David Falconer filled in our gap about assessment in Engineering and Computer Science, and that, too, will be listed shortly in the "NEW" sub-directory.

Jack Bedell in Sociology had written to us about the pitiful upkeep of our landscaping and grounds, certainly a major contributor to our campus appearance. Through Melinda, we learned that Vice President Willie Hagan had used part of his budget restoration to accomplish a major landscaping improvement on the east side of campus, an improvement now almost complete, with new palm trees, pretty flowers, and improved lighting.

Please send us your comments. We've now realized that "Phase I" will never be really finished, or final, and we look forward to your corrections and updates!


Plans for Phase II

Each of the WASC Task Force's Subcommittees has set part of its Phase II data analysis into motion. Some of the data have already been gathered, and we are anticipating the analysis of more.


Subcommittee on Student Learning

As part of a nation-wide survey, we participated in UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute's (HERI) survey of entering freshmen. Data from Cal State Fullerton students will be compared with data collected nation-wide, and we are awaiting the responses from HERI's subcontractor for the computer-scored portion of the survey. We were also allowed to ask one open-ended question of our own students. We wanted to know how our students defined "learning," so we asked them what "one thing they expected to learn" in their first semester of college. Those data have been subjected to a content analysis by our graduate assistant, Charlene Carr, and we're in the process of finding out what it all means.


Subcommittee on Faculty and Staff Learning

Again, we had the opportunity to participate in a nation-wide comparison survey through HERI which queried full-time faculty across the country. And, again, we were allowed to add some of our own questions to the survey. The open-ended questions that have been returned are being analyzed by Charlene Carr and Katrina Streeter, our student assistant. To encourage participation, we offered a prize of $100 to those on-campus folk who returned their surveys by December 4, 1998. David Pagni from Mathematics won it, just in time for holiday spending! (Those who haven't yet returned their surveys will receive a follow-up reminder from HERI in January.) We expect the final results of the computer-scored surveys sometime in mid-Spring.

In the meantime, we have adapted the faculty survey for staff, and that survey will be distributed to all full-time staff in early Spring. While we will not have a nation-wide sample for comparison, we will have our faculty cohort that has answered many of the same questions.


Campus Environment for Learning

The subcommittee distributed a classroom survey in November, sampling 66 different classrooms on campus, asking student users and faculty to comment on the classroom condition. A representative sample of classes was collected, including every teaching building on campus with rooms ranging from large lecture halls to small seminars. With the help of department chairs and secretaries, we received a 95% response rate! The thorough questionnaire assesses many different aspects of our campus environment and we hope to show what kinds of facilities are most conducive to sustaining a learning environment.


Other plans

We hope many of you will respond to our request to share your experience in classroom assessment so that we may incorporate your findings in Phase II. See the announcement elsewhere in this newsletter that offers a "reward" to document for us what you are already doing!


A Reward for Work You're Already Doing!

How are you assessing the learning that is taking place in your classes? Have you introduced a new teaching strategy and plan to document its effect? Are you using technology in some way that allows you to assess its impact? Are you experimenting with collaborative learning? Or service learning? Are you willing to share your findings with your colleagues?

When the WASC Self Study was given its budget, some funds were set aside in case we decided to hire external consultants for our initial work. It turned out that we didn't use those funds.

We'd much rather give them to you, if you will provide us with documentation of your learning assessment strategies that we can incorporate into Phase II of the Self Study. In other words, we'd like to reward you for work you are already doing!

The rules are simple. Tell us, in 500 words, or less (preferably less) how you are planning on documenting an assessment of student learning outcomes in your class(es). Submit this to us by 5:00 p.m. on February 19. Your final report--maximum of 2,000 words--must be in our hands by June 21. Then, we'll give you $500 for your single effort, or $1,000 for a collaborative effort involving two or more classes. See the application form in this newsletter for all the details. We anticipate awarding between 15 and 20 grants and your documentation will become part of our final Phase II report.

Thanks for thinking about doing this. Not only will you help our reaccreditation Self Study, but your experiences will become part of an archive that will assist your colleagues in the future. And you get a small reward--much less than you deserve, but at least something--for making our campus an environment that supports learning: yours, your students, and us all.


Newsletter 4

WASC Newsletter, Vol.2, No. 4; Winter, 1999

Draft Self Study Released

The Academic Audit

Our Site Team

How You Can Help


Draft Self Study Released

A preliminary draft by CSUF’s Self Study Task Force has been received by Ralph Wolff, executive director of the Senior Schools and College Division of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the head of CSUF’s site team, Don Farmer, Vice President for Academic Affairs at King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania . As soon as their comments are returned, the complete draft will be released to the campus community on CSUF’s WASC web site.

The study is in two parts. "Phase I was completed last year after a ten month study of existing data on the campus that related to the three themes of our study: student learning; faculty and staff learning; the campus environment for learning.The focus of Phase I was on information, materials, and reports that the University had already amassed. Sources of this data included the departmental Program Performance Reviews (PPRs), Annual Reports, Accreditation Reports, and reports generated by various entities or centers on campus.

The Task Force also reviewed many other campus-generated reports as part of Phase I. These included annual "campus climate" surveys, the semesterly reports from the Office of Analytical Studies, enrollment management data generated from Student and Academic Affairs, annual reports by the Academic Senate, and progress reports from programs like the Fullerton First Year experience and Employee Training and Development. The University Planning Committee’s efforts to define the "marks" of a Fullerton student helped the Task Force envision how the Mission and Goals statement can serve as a tool for program evaluation and planning.

For "Phase II" of our Self Study, the WASC Self Study Task Force collected new data designed to "fill in gaps" that were discovered after our previousanalysis. To secure these data, among other efforts, we participated in two HERI surveys (Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA). The first HERI survey compared our incoming freshmen to a national sample and asked specific questions concerning expectations about their learning experience. The second HERI survey was conducted among full-time faculty and is also part of a national sample of faculty. A similar instrument was designed and distributed to full-time staff. Both surveys invited respondents to discuss their perceptions about our learning environment and the University’s mission of making "learning preeminent."

The Self Study Task Force also conducted a survey of campus classrooms as part of its effort to assess the contribution of the physical infrastructure to learning. The Task Force also issued an RFP to the campus to commission over a dozen studies of learning outcomes assessment. These findings, as well as analyses based on other new studies, are reported in Phase II.

Phase II includes an Appendix that provides a progress report on nine issues raised in our previous Self Study in 1990. This includes a brief overview of WASC’s concerns at that time and a summary of what has happened in regard to those issues since our 1994 "Midterm Report" to WASC.


Recommendations from the Task Force

After consultation and collaboration with the full WASC Self Study Task Force, the Steering Committee synthesized the findings from Phase I and Phase II into a set of recommendations. In writing the recommendations, the Steering Committee acknowledged changes occurring in the CSU system as well as developments on campus. Issues of technology, assessment, accountability and self-governance all represent opportunities for the University to further its mission of learning. Highlights of those recommendations are:

  1. Continue to develop a campus culture centered on learning. Our mission of making learning preeminent enables us to integrate our focus on student learning with our traditionally strong emphasis on faculty scholarly and creative activities and on staff training and development. However, across the campus, carrying out the University’s mission to make learning preeminent needs to assume a more prominent role in determining appropriate rewards for faculty and staff.

  2. Continue providing funds for technological improvement and innovation, particularly with support structures and services. Computers need to be replaced and updated on a regular basis, and technical systems need to be maintained. Just as importantly, those campus centers that facilitate the use of the technology—particularly the Faculty Development Center and the Employee Training and Development program—need sustained support.

  3. Broaden access to increase the use of expensive technology. Faculty and students become excited about the learning alternatives made available through technology and become frustrated when computers in the student laboratories are not available, when classrooms have not been outfitted to utilize the technology, or when training programs are not readily available. Specifically, we recommend that the classroom renovation program be extended to include smaller classrooms. Perhaps most importantly, techniques of assessment that measure effectively how technology improves student learning need to be incorporated throughout courses and programs that rely on instructional technology tools.

  4. Keep assessment firmly rooted in program improvement. Adopting assessment practices must be viewed as a positive approach to continual improvement and not seen as a management strategy designed to make faculty and staff accountable.

  5. Increase support for students in our University who are not native speakers of English (which is currently estimated at 48 percent of our student body, including 32 percent of those born in the United States and about 80 percent of those born outside the U.S.). We must be prepared to meet the challenge of our demographic environment, and this includes not only instruction in language competency but a renewed emphasis on culture, socialization, and civic values.

  6. Monitor progress in reaching our learning goals, including the general education goals and the goals of our degree programs. We have introduced a new approach to general education that incorporates learning goals and stresses writing and communication skills. We need to institute effective assessment strategies to ensure that our efforts to improve the effectiveness of general education and our degree programs are meeting our students’ needs.


The Academic Audit

As part of its effort to develop procedures that will enable re-accreditation to be a useful exercise for its member institutions, WASC is experimenting with a process referred to as an "academic audit." What is an "academic audit"? And how is it different from the usual accreditation process?

The academic audit process was developed in England and Hong Kong, and is now used there as well as in New Zealand, a number of European countries, and elsewhere. It utilizes several of the techniques and assumptions that also characterize accreditation processes. For example, external evaluators comprise the audit team. Prior to a site visit, the team prepares using materials supplied by the host institution. The institution clearly defines the areas of investigation in which it is interested—most commonly, areas centrally related to the institution’s mission—and prepares appropriate documentation. The team visits the campus, spends several days gathering information, and writes a report. This, of course, is much like the usual accreditation site team visit.

However, the audit differs in other ways. First, it does not attempt to look at every feature of the institution as defined by external standards, but rather focuses on the institution’s own identification of its purpose and goals. The audit relies on judicious sampling and on an examination of the processes the campus employs to ensure desired outcomes, rather than on specific products. In other words, those conducting the audit select a few representative programs and, somewhat like a financial audit, trace the processes that are used to provide feedback and ideas for improvement in the program. The goal of the audit is not to measure the quality of the program (although that is always a sub-text of every accreditation). Rather, the audit focuses on how a program establishes its own goals, how it goes about implementing them, and what strategies it follows to build in improvement and adapt to change.

At Fullerton, our WASC visiting team will employ one element of the academic audit. By means of in depth interviews, the team will explore the ways in which core academic programs have implemented the campus mission of making learning preeminent.


The audit questions

We have asked the accreditation team to focus its investigation on how programs support student learning. We are confident—and the data in our Self Study demonstrate—that CSUF programs provide students with knowledge and skills that are the hallmarks of an excellent education. We also know that some programs have been more self-conscious than others about articulating the processes they use to measure their success. We think we have constructed a set of questions that will enable all programs to respond effectively to queries that the visiting team will pose. They are:

  1. How do you decide what you want your students to learn in your program? (Describe any processes that you use to reach agreement about the outcomes you desire your program to achieve.)

  2. What do you expect your students to know and be able to do as a result of completing your program?

  3. How do you communicate these expectations to students?

  4. How is the curriculum of your program structured to reflect your program’s goals for student learning and to facilitate student progress toward achieving them?

  5. How do you know that students are learning what you expect them to learn at various points in the curriculum?

  6. How do you know that your graduates have accomplished the goals of your program?

  7. How do you use this information (the answers to questions 5 and 6) to improve your program?


How will the ‘academic audit’ process work at CSUF?

Approximately ten days to two weeks before the WASC site team arrives on campus (March 21-24), the team will tell us which programs it has selected for its audit. We expect that the site team will select six or seven degree programs (departments or interdisciplinary programs, plus the General Education Committee, for the audit interviews. We expect that these will be academic programs chosen to be representative of our curriculum. However, like you, we have no way of knowing which programs these will be.

The General Education Committee is a likely candidate for the audit for several reasons. First, over a three year period, an ad hoc committee of the Academic Senate created new learning goals after much deliberation and input from many academic programs on campus. For the past year and a half, the General Education Committee has been reviewing courses in the GE curriculum to monitor the implementation process. During this period, the GE Committee has received feedback about the learning goals and the coherence of the new program. We believe that the whole process of reforming the General Education curriculum exemplifies commitment to student learning as articulated by the University’s Mission statement. Thus we are encouraging our accreditation site team to use this program as one of its audit cases.

The site team will have only three days on campus to collect the information that it needs. During these three days, we expect the team to devote a half day, perhaps one afternoon, to talk to the programs that it selects for the academic audit

Our goal in explaining the interview process known elsewhere in the world as an "academic audit" is to alert the campus community to this aspect of our campus visit and to inform academic departments and programs, as well as the General Education Committee, of the possibility of being selected for the audit. For some—probably many –programs, preparing for the site team visit will involve little more than reviewing their most recent Program Performance Report (or for those programs that have them, their most recent accreditation reports), and ensuring that answers to the seven questions are current. Many programs have re-evaluated their GE courses to make sure they incorporate the new GE learning goals, and these programs have also engaged in important discussions about student learning in these courses.

We know, though, that some programs have not yet undergone the GE course review process, and that others are still in the midst of looking at their programs in terms of their students’ learning. Those programs will want to think about the seven audit questions a bit more intensely so that they will be ready for the possibility of being selected as one of the programs to be interviewed as representative of the campus as a whole.


Our Site Team

WASC has selected an imposing group of scholars and experts to conduct our site visit next March. The team is chaired by Don Farmer, Vice-President of Kings College, Wilkes-Barre, PA., an assessment and student learning expert, nationally recognized for his leadership at Kings College for instituting assessment for quality improvement Others include:

Trudy Banta, Vice Chancellor for Planning & Institutional Improvement, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis; Robert Cox, Manager, Faculty Teaching, Workload and Enrollment Planning,

UCLA; David Dill, Professor of Public Policy Analysis, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Amy Driscoll, Director for Teaching, Learning & Assessment, CSU Monterey Bay; Susan Nummedal, Professor of Psychologyat seating capacity represents a more than four-fold increase from the beginning of the 1990s. Also installed were more than 500 computers with full Internet capability. The physical addition to the Library permitted it to house centers for campus learning, including Information Technology, the Honors Program, the Faculty Development Center and computer laboratories used by Employee Training and Development for staff (and faculty) learning. Evidence is presented that showcases the many learning activitcopies of such exhibits as Program Performance Reviews, annual reports, and accreditation reports.


How You can Help

If you have materials that demonstrate your program’s implementation of learning goals for students, or other materials that evoke the university’s Mission, please contact the Self Study Steering Committee (X-3227) and tell us what you have. We’ve already received one suggestion—a video tape of Astronaut Tracy Caldwell at the 40th Anniversary Convocation. Your suggestions are welcome!

Also, please read our draft report on our Web Site (available on December 1) and let us know what you think. If this brief overview here has inspired you, please let us know your thoughts. Are our conclusions and recommendations the ones you would make?

You will have an opportunity to talk with members of the site team when they are here. Please mark the dates on your calendar.