Southern's internal Standards and Assessment Review (StAR) academic program review process encompasses both graduate and undergraduate programs. The process of preparing a self-study for the review provides faculty with the opportunity to reflect on data related to educational effectiveness.
Data provided by the Office of Assessment and Planning
As an integral part of academic program review, programs administer surveys to current students, alumni, and faculty. The Office of Assessment and Planning configures the surveys, prints paper surveys, provides a link to online surveys, and generates reports. The reports are included in the appendix of self-studies and the findings are referred to in the narrative.
The current student, faculty, and alumni survey are standard surveys that were developed for the StAR review process. The alumni survey is customized for each program by the insertion of each program's unique learner outcomes. With respect to the current student survey, which is a paper survey, programs have the option of customizing the background questions on the first page. The faculty survey is a standard, online survey and the office provides programs with a link to this survey, which they then forward to all the faculty in the program. The faculty survey is the same for both undergraduate and graduate faculty members.
Programs tend to benefit from meeting to articulate their learner outcomes.
Data provided by the Office of Institutional Research
Data provided to the programs by the Office of Institutional Research comes from the course and student census files, created at the end of the 3rd week of the fall and spring semesters. The demographic report includes counts of majors broken down by gender, ethnicity, and enrollment status. The report also includes students' cumulative GPA and the number of students registered with the Disability Resource Center. The number of degrees conferred also appears. The graduation and persistence report tracks first-time, full-time freshmen and full-time transfer students over a ten-year period (calculating their one–year retention rate, four-year graduation rate, and six year-graduation rate broken down by whether they stayed in their original major or changed to a different major). The summary by course type report breaks down the program's section data into three categories: online, independent study/internship/thesis, and regular (all the other section types are aggregated in this category). The summary by course report breaks down the program's section data by individual course. The course information report (also known as the student opinion survey analysis) presents analyses by year of the last five years of student opinion data.
Preparing the report of the self-study
A necessary component of the self-study is the identification of learning outcomes and the use of data about student performance in order to make improvements to the program and to guide decision making. Programs provide a curriculum map or matrix demonstrating how the curriculum introduces and reinforces the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that students are expected to master. They discuss their strategies and methods for assessing student learning and/or performance ("How do you know your goals for student learning are achieved?"). They describe how student learning data are used to improve student performance and how data are used to inform departmental discussions and/or initiate changes to their programs.