A. OBJECTIVE & PURPOSE
This policy identifies the minimum content of Graduate Academic Learning Compacts (GALC) at the University of North Florida. It articulates a sequence of steps that must be followed to ensure that GALCs reflect essential learning outcomes, that they are kept up to date, that they are assessed on a regular, recurring basis, and that the results of their assessment inform continuous program improvement. The purpose is to ensure clear communication to students of graduate program learning outcomes and their means of assessment, and to ensure continuous review and improvement of program quality.
Faculty teaching in the major will use the results of the assessments identified in the GALC during their respective program reviews in determining program effectiveness and ongoing improvement. The results from the GALCs will also be used in required reporting to UNF's accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), which defines minimal standards for program assessment to which graduate programs must adhere to maintain UNF's accreditation.
B. STATEMENT OF POLICY
Each graduate academic major offered by the University of North Florida and listed on the State University System Academic Degree Inventory will have a published Graduate Academic Learning Compact (GALC) which can be viewed by students and other interested parties. This publicly available GALC will clearly articulate:
- a program mission statement that includes a description of the kinds of learning experiences that students will encounter in the program, of faculty scholarly activities, and of the program’s interaction with external entities.
learning outcomes for program graduates. Outcomes must address at least the following two categories, which align with SACSCOC accreditation standards: knowledge of the literature of the discipline; and ability to engage in independent research or professional practice. An additional two or three categories should be considered in areas such as oral and/or written communication, critical thinking, ethical conduct, and others that are discipline-specific and/or required by professional accrediting bodies.
- a description of the types of assessments that students might encounter in the program and that faculty will use to judge how student learning reflects the expected outcomes, and with a clear indication of the alignment between the types of assessments and the categories of learning outcome(s) for which they provide evidence.
In addition, the internally available portion of the GALC will contain:
- a program mission statement;
- a curriculum map that demonstrates how program instructional content supports student attainment of the identified outcomes.
- a plan for a four year cycle of assessment that includes assessment and continuous improvement of each outcome based on the results of the most recent assessment.
It is the responsibility of the academic departments to ensure that each GALC is kept up-to-date and to create a GALC for each new graduate program proposal.
C. STATEMENT OF PROCEDURES
The following procedures will be used in implementing this policy:
- New program proposals must be accompanied by a draft GALC for the program. These GALCs will be reviewed and approved by the Dean of the Graduate School in consultation with the Executive Director of Assessment.
- As faculty change programs of study or make other curricular modifications within a major through the APC process they are obligated to update the corresponding GALC as appropriate.
- Assessments must include external validation of student or program-graduate accomplishments. In this context, external validation means assessment that goes beyond a faculty member grading the work completed by a student in a course he or she taught. External validation might include a departmental faculty committee review of student work (e.g., graduate thesis, dissertation, or capstone project) completed in a capstone course. External validation could also mean students taking a national or state examination in their respective discipline or certification or licensure examinations. Except in unusual and well-justified circumstances, course grades may not be used as evidence of learning.
- When appropriate, faculty may use outcomes developed for professional accrediting bodies as part of their GALCs. If these do not include all of the key elements required in a GALC, they must be supplemented with outcomes addressing the missing areas.
- When appropriate, faculty may use assessment systems developed for professional accrediting bodies as part of their GALCs. If these assessment systems do not include all of the required elements (e.g., external validation) they must be supplemented to include the missing element(s).
- Faculty will implement and review the results of the assessments listed in the GALC on a cyclical basis, with each outcome assessed at least every four years, and with a plan for and results of a continuous improvement process for each outcome documented on an ongoing basis.
- Data from those outcomes assessed each year as well as information on how the data will be and have been used for continuous improvement shall be reported annually.
- The Dean of the Graduate School, in collaboration with The Executive Director of Assessment, will conduct a yearly audit to ensure that GALCS are complete,updated, and posted on the UNF website.