Southeastern Louisiana University evaluates student achievement in many ways as illustrated in the University's response to Core Requirement 2.5 and Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1 (Institutional Effectiveness). Student achievement is evaluated with respect to
- student retention and progression,
- educational outcomes in courses and curricula, and
- expectations of accreditation agencies and academic program review standards.
As appropriate, consideration of course completion rates, passing rates on state licensure examinations, and job placement rates are part of these evaluations.
Course Completion Rates
Course completion rates and the identification of courses that put students at greatest risk for non-progression are evaluated and addressed in a variety of ways. Basic data in the form of Semester Grade Analysis reports are sent from the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment to each faculty member for his/her courses as well as to each department head for all courses offered by the department. Such reports provide faculty with the quick feedback necessary to analyze their own grading patterns relative to course difficulty and their own teaching histories. At the department level, department heads can ascertain potential issues with grade inflation or deflation and provide faculty with consultation on enhancing teaching performance and student achievement. These reports are also used cumulatively for each year's Performance Evaluation for faculty and for three-year review and six-year reviews of faculty being considered for tenure and promotion.
Course completion rates are an important part of the general education component of the University's institutional effectiveness program. The Report on the Status of General Education (pages 6-7 and Appendix C) shows how course completion rates of general education courses are evaluated in light of the general education mission and maximizing student achievement. Other sections of the report (pages 17 and 23) show how course passing rates were instrumental in evaluating key courses in English composition and college algebra.
Also a part of institutional effectiveness, Major Field Assessment plans may incorporate course completion rates and course grade distributions as indicators for curricular goal achievement. These indicators serve as proxies for knowledge or skills acquisition in certain areas where a more standardized assessment approach is not possible. For example, faculty in Accounting look at the course completion rates and course grade distributions of Accounting majors in courses such as COMM 211 (Introduction to Public Speaking) and ENGL 101 and 102 (Freshman Composition) to determine adequacy of basic communication skills. As another example, English majors are required to take LS 102 (Introduction to Library Science), and the Major Field Assessment Plan for that program has as one indicator of the goal “English majors will have the necessary skills to engage in scholarly research and criticism” that 80% of majors will complete LS 102 with a B or better.
In addition to the uses of course completion rates described above, Institutional Research and Assessment provides specialized reports related to specific courses and completion rates as requested. As one example, in 2003 the Provost appointed an ad hoc committee to study overall patterns of course completions and withdrawal rates across the University in an effort to determine whether current University policy encourages students to register for more courses than they intended to complete, thus squandering University teaching and faculty resources and potentially affecting student achievement, retention, and progression. As another example, the faculty in the Department of Mathematics wanted to assess the effectiveness of the Math Tutoring Lab; working in cooperation with Institutional Research and Assessment, the faculty analyzed the course completion rates for several math courses, comparing the performance of students who used the Lab with a matched cohort of students who did not use the Lab.
Student Performance on State Licensure Examinations
Numerous professional majors at Southeastern are required to take licensure exams for entry into the profession. Student performance on such exams is a primary indicator of successful student outcomes. Exam performance is a frequent indicator in Major Field Assessment plans. For instance, the Baccalaureate in Nursing program indicates that at least 85% of the graduates in a given year will pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses given by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing. Other licensure exams that are frequently cited are the PRAXIS exams for prospective teachers, the CPA licensure exams for Accounting majors, and the certification issued by the National Athletic Trainer Association Board.
Passage rates on such exams are generally high for students graduating from Southeastern's programs, and several University publications share this information within the University community and with the public. Southeastern's mini-factbook, the Profile, includes PRAXIS and Nursing exam pass rates. The College of Education and Human Development posts its Title II Institutional Report Card on its web site; it scored a grade of “A” in the 2003-2004 report for its high passage rates.
Passage rates are also highlighted at the University of Louisiana System level, particularly for the PRAXIS, as there is a statewide focus on teacher education and the improvement of PK-12 education. The University of Louisiana System Stats and Trends 2003 report (pages 45 and 46) and the University of Louisiana System Annual Report (see pages 32 and 36) present system information on passage rates and provide institutional comparisons for judging performance and student achievement success.
Job Placement Rates
Job placement statistics are also an important part of Major Field Assessment. Many curricula include successful employment in the discipline or a related field or the enrollment of students in further study as indicators of successful student outcomes. For example, the Department of Human Development's Major Field Assessment Plan for the Bachelor of Arts in Social Work states
Eighty percent of the students graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work who do not intend to seek graduate education will be gainfully employed after graduation.
Data from Alumni Surveys conducted by the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment are supplied to academic departments. Statistics are reviewed at the department and college levels. Alumni Survey reports provide data on two cohorts of alumni.
Alumni are asked to indicate their current status with regard to further graduate or professional education, and their current employment status.
Further questions provide details on the fields in which alumni are employees, levels of job satisfaction, and current salaries. Response data are broken down by department and by degree program.
The most recent Alumni Survey report indicates that 92% of 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 graduates are satisfactorily employed. Forty percent indicated that they were currently enrolled in graduate education, had earned a graduate degree, or had enrolled in classes since leaving Southeastern. An additional 37% planned to participate in graduate education in the future. Only 5% were unemployed and looking for work.
Job placement rates and the satisfaction of employers are also analyzed in a broader context for specialized reports on student achievement, including accreditation reports. As one example, the Report on the Status of General Education (see pages 28 - 30) not only analyzed employment of graduates and their perceptions of skill attainment in areas relating to general education, but also examined the opinions of employers in regard to alumni skill levels in communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, and technology applications.