Launching Transformative Programs & Curricula

Strategic Action Plan MapFive-Year Goal

Building on the greatest traditions of conservatory education, UNCSA will leverage contemporary innovations in performance and media to prepare emerging artists who engage new audiences with deeply relevant and outstanding work.

Objectives & Suggested Strategies

Focus initial efforts toward curriculum change on first-year students.

  • Develop the first-year experience program for incoming college students.

2015 – Fall Update

Goal: Develop a pilot FYE for fall of 2016.

Three excellent meetings that developed the following potential directions/themes:

  • College level thinking.
  • Collaboration
  • Interdisciplinary work.
  • Asking questions and having a conversation.
  • Developing capacities for wonder.
  • Permission to experiment.

How does this lead to a capacity for creativity?


  • Time to meet.
  • Time to gather information.


  • Work to answer general FYE questions.
  • Investigate Lincoln Center Education program as a model.
  • Work with alumni LCE fellows to help us develop the ideas.
  • Consult with Dan Freedman or someone else once we generate FYE ideas.

Next Steps

  • LCE Model
  • 4 slots/summer training
  • Pilot/next fall

2016 – Spring Update

The FYE committee five times over the 2015-2016 academic year, with conversations continued over email.  After our initial meeting we surveyed current students, alumni, and SGA representatives on developing a First Year Experience program. We received input from 165+ students.

Over the year we discussed a number of possible FYE themes and ideas, such as: College level thinking, collaboration, interdisciplinary work, asking questions and having a conversation, developing capacities for wonder, permission to fail (experiment). How does this lead to a capacity for creativity? We are wrestling with how we define each of these ideas.

Lincoln Center Education: Recognizing that the LCE Aesthetic Education program addresses a number of the ideas we had been discussing, the FYE committee met with representatives from LCE to discuss the program. The focus of this program is on developing in students the ability to: Notice Deeply, Embody, Pose Questions, Identify Patterns, Make Connections, Empathize, Live with Ambiguity, Create Meaning, Take Action, Reflect/Assess.

LCE Alumni: For the past fifteen years UNCSA has been sending a handful of students to Lincoln Center to spend six months studying the Aesthetic Education model. We contacted these 70 or so students to ask about their experience with the program.

Research and Development: Four faculty will be attending The LCE Aesthetic Education Immersion workshop this summer: Trish Casey (Dance), Meredith Hite (Music), Rosemary Millar (DLA), and Betsy Towns (DLA). They will share their thoughts on the program in the fall. This study was made possible by a Leadership grant from the Kenan Institute for the Arts.

FYE Committee Recommendations: Develop new name for program, with the understanding that this is not about how to be a college student, but how to be a UNCSA college student. The program can include such things as: wellness, poetry, visual arts, exercises, sociality, relationships, reflection, and aesthetic education.

2017 – Update

Create a First-Year Experience Program
Leader: Dean Wilcox

Two members of the First Year Experience committee, Rosemary Millar and Trish Casey, along with DLA faculty member Bob King, developed and offered an experimental course entitled The Embodied Mind that drew on the ideas developed by the FYE committee last year. 

Getting these ideas up on their feet and into the bodies and minds of some of our students produced some very interesting results. They will be offering the course again in the fall, with the possibility of offering two sections. Given the reaction across campus to the phrase "first year experience" we have been working to change the language to "first year seminar" - which you will see reflected in the link below. 

The plan at this point is to bring the FYS and pilot course instructors together early in fall term to discuss the course framework, issues, problems, changes, etc. This will give Rosemary, Trish, and Bob ample reflection time. 

Since the Lincoln Center Education model (along with a few others) was useful in developing this course we will, with Kenan support, be sending six more faculty to NYC for exposure to the LCE model this summer. 

For information about the development and trajectory of the class see: The Embodied Minds class blog.

2018  Update

Create a First-Year Experience Program
Leader: Dean Wilcox 

Using ideas generated by faculty, staff and students over the 2015-2016 academic year Bob King (DLA), Trish Casey (Dance), and Rosemary Millar (DLA), offered a pilot version of the First Year Seminar in the spring of 2017 under the title The Embodied Mind: Thinking, Making, Reflecting. This process provided much needed insight into the development and implementation of the course.

The course was revised and offered again in the fall of 2017 with Bob King and Trish Casey team teaching the class. The syllabus and course information can be found on The Embodied Minds class blog. 

On Wednesday, December 6, Bob and Trish shared with eight Liberal Arts faculty the basic structure of the course and ran us through one of the exercises they have developed. This group used the work that Bob, Trish and Rosemary had put into this course as a template for the development of the EPC-1 form for approval by EPC.

Bob and Trish offered their insights into the process and development of the course at the Provost Council meeting on January 22, 2018. They fielded questions about the structure and development of the course. The slides used for this presentation can be found here.

On Wednesday, January 24, EPC approved the paperwork on the new First Year Seminar: FYS 1100: On Being a Contemporary Artist.

Course Description: A collaborative, interdisciplinary, project-based seminar designed for students to engage in an exploration of art, life, and contemporary culture through experiencing, thinking, talking, making, reflecting, and writing. This course is designed to introduce students to a range of intellectual creative practices and processes. Students with 12 or more college transfer credits can replace this requirement with appropriate transfer credit or a General Education elective. 

Student Learning Outcomes: By the end of the semester: Students will be able to demonstrate critical thinking through multiple modes of expression. Students will be able to demonstrate their ability to analyze, synthesize, and reflect on contemporary art, life, and culture.

Methods of Evaluation: The course features a sequence of units-of-study that explore intellectual creative work. Each unit features a main theme, an introduction to major figures and influences, and a set of essential questions. Each unit includes an exploration of content, experiences, in-class presentations, projects, conversations, and reflections. Students generate a collection of material for end-of-term evaluation that may include class notes, prompted responses, and project reflections. Each unit concludes with a final reflection. Sustained active participation is required.

April 5-7: Bob King and Dean Wilcox presented on the development of the First year Seminar at the CLEA (Consortium for Liberal Education of Artists) 2018 Conference hosted by Peabody Institute in Baltimore, MD.

May 23-25: A team of five faculty (Bob King, Trish Casey, Rosemary Millar, Elizabeth Klaimon, and Betsy Towns) spent a three-day workshop with the Olin College of Engineering faculty focused on the further development of the First Year Seminar.

July 9-13: Four faculty (Bob King, Jeff Gredlein, Dean Wilcox, and Elizabeth Alexander) attended the Lincoln Center Education Summer Forum on Aesthetic Immersion (The Lincoln Center Education Program remains a cornerstone pedagogy of the First year Seminar).

July 16-20: Elizabeth Klaimon, who participated in the LCE Summer Forum in 2017, returned to Lincoln Center for further training on “the Artist and Community” and “The Classroom as Community.”

Fall 2018: We currently have 5 sections of FYS offered for this term. Once fall term is underway we will reassess the number of needed sections for spring term and adjust accordingly.

2019  Update

Create a First-Year Experience Program
Leader: Dean Wilcox 

2018-2019 academic year update on developing our First Year Seminar course:

This was the first year that the First Year Seminar (FYS) course was required of all incoming students. This was also the first time we had offered multiple sections of the course taught by teams of fine and liberal arts teachers. Because of those factors this year served as an extension of our pilot program from last year. 

Fall 2018: We offered five sections of FYS 1100 with three teaching teams: Bob King and Trish Casey, Elizabeth Klaimon and Rosemary Millar, and Betsy Towns and Chris Yon (WFU adjunct, the Department of Theatre and Dance) and Taryn Griggs (alum UNCSA School of Dance). Using the Lincoln Center Education model as a starting point, each section was designed to move students through unit projects based on image, sound/language, and movement. The sections stressed critical thinking, appreciative inquiry, creative problem solving, collaboration, and oral and written communication. 

Spring 2019: We offered six sections of FYS 1100 with three teaching teams: Bob King and Trish Casey, Elizabeth Klaimon and Rosemary Millar, and Betsy Towns and Chris Yon and Taryn Griggs. Like fall, using the Lincoln Center Education model as a starting point, each section was designed to move students through unit projects based on image, sound/language, and movement. The sections stressed critical thinking, appreciative inquiry, creative problem solving, collaboration, and oral and written communication.

FYS Guests: Faculty, staff, and administrators from across campus, as well as from WSSU, UNC-CH and WFU joined as guest lecturers or panelist in many FYS sections. Participants included: Andy Paris, Abby Yager, Krisha Marcano, Kristen Haaf, Elise Barella, Lauren Lowman, Nickolay Hristov, Louise Allen, Gabriel Maissonave, Dean Wilcox, Wiley Hausam, Martin Ferrell, Rebecca Nussbaum, Erin Edge, Mark Robinson, Karen Beres and more. We hope to have faculty from Design and Production and Film also join course modules or instruction in future to enrich the student experience and contribute to the development of the course. 

March 2019: Current and future FYS teachers met over two days to discuss the structure of the course and share what elements were working well and what needed to be adjusted in the future. 

May 2019: Current and future FYS teachers met with Jonathan Stolk, Olin College of

Engineering faculty, to follow up on work accomplished at the workshop with Jon in May 2018 and to discuss further development of the course. Jon was instrumental in working with the Wake Forest School of Engineering to develop their first year course and has provided valuable insight into our process. Building on the basic learning outcomes of oral and written communication and critical thinking, this meeting helped to refine and shape the structure and overall goals of the course: 

Relying on scaffold experiences to integrate content and activities, engage students in the creative process, and expose students to examples of contemporary art and artistic activity, this introductory course is designed to build a collaborative community translating composition principles across disciplines to generate, discuss and critique artistic activity and to prepare students for creative and appreciative inquiry in courses across the campus.  

June 2019: Betsy Towns will return to Lincoln Center Education for two workshops. 1) Action Research Around the Arts: Practices from Inside Schools in which LCE teaching artists and classroom teachers will share key findings from their recent action research and participants will explore how action research can support their classroom instruction, emerging with new tools and strategies to apply to their own work, including a customized action research plan for the coming year. 2) Impact Matters focused on how teaching artists, educators, and administrators can adapt community arts practices for participatory learning environments in and beyond the classroom. 

New Role: Along with working to develop the FYS class, Betsy will also step into a new

Assistant Dean role in Liberal Arts focused on Curriculum Design and Development. In this role she will be leading the conversation on how our four core courses (First Year Seminar, Writing About, Self, Society, and Cosmos, and Paths to the Present) can be shaped to better align with departmental and institutional goals and learning outcomes. 

Fall 2019: Six sections of FYS 1100 will be offered with three teaching teams and one new faculty member floating between each of the teams.

Spring 2020: Six sections will be offered integrating new faculty and floating faculty into the course dynamic. It is quite likely that at this point we will adjust the teaching teams and further reflect on the structure of the course. 

Fall 2020: The goal is to offer 12 sections of FYS 1100 fall term and 12 sections of Writing about spring term, creating a clearly articulated and organized first year experience that mirrors the structure of our second year core courses. 

Request: Any new course takes time to find its most impactful shape, and this process is complicated by the development of true interdisciplinary work by both faculty and students. We ask that faculty across the campus be patient with this process and share ideas, questions and concerns with Betsy Towns or Dean Wilcox while avoiding criticizing from afar. We will be glad to provide further information to any interested. We also welcome faculty from across the campus to join us in teaching the course either for full semesters or particular units.


Revise the production calendar to better support educational outcomes and student well-being.

  • Host a production calendar summit.

2015 – Fall Update

Goal: Create production calendar for 2017/18

  • Reflects best designs for student learning and preparation for the professions.
  • Is sensitive to work/life & wellness considerations.
  • Optimizes performance facilities & staff resources
  • Enhances patron/community experience.


  • Hired consultant
  • Day-long retreat with consultants and various stakeholders.
  • Generated recommendations for working group consideration.


  • Time needed for next steps.
  • Potential resistance to change.
  • Staffing


  • Prioritize use of Deans’ meetings to advance process.
  • Assess 2015/16 calendar changes.
  • Do 2016/17 calendar.
  • Consider DLA collaborations.
  • Complete 2017/18 Production calendar draft by May 1

Next Steps

  • Assess current changes – relative to next year.
  • May 30


  • Production calendar & Student workload


  • Production calendar
  • Cautious optimism


  • Production calendar – allows for so much more.

2016 – Spring Update

All stakeholders came together for a production calendar summit in January 2016. This was an important first step toward identifying and analyzing options for changes to the existing calendar to make it more effective for student outcomes and more efficient for operations. One major decision that resulted from the meeting was to change our approach to load-in and load-out of Nutcracker to save time and effort without affecting student outcomes.  This approach is built into the FY2017 performance calendar. We will watch how it works closely and refine the approach as needed for future years.

The new approach to Nutcracker also allows time in the calendar to make another desired change, moving the Collage Concert to the fall of 2016. 

In addition, the group agreed to work on earlier notifications of titles to allow for more robust planning and earlier promotion.

The group will continue its work in the fall of 2016 to build further refinements into future calendars and create the FY2018 calendar.

2017 – Update

Optimize the Production Calendar
Leader: David English

Using the input received from the Student Workload Action Group and building on numerous previous discussions amongst the Deans, the Deans met for two half-day back-to-back facilitated workshops to dive deeply into reviewing the definition of a credit hour, daily schedules, and the academic and production calendar. The work focused largely on reviewing credit hour requirements and prototyping new more balanced draft daily schedules.

Some of the considerations discussed are:

  • Spreading DLA requirements over 4 years
  • Working towards common class start/finish times to allow more flexibility and interaction between schools
  • When ready, need to involve more of campus in the process, including EPC
  • Student workloads drive faculty workload
  • Take credit for all we are doing

Building upon the substantial progress from the workshops, the Deans will continue to refine their work in the fall of 2017. 

2018  Update

Optimize the Production Calendar
Leader: David English

Discussions continue as issues arise.

2019  Update

Optimize the Production Calendar
Leader: David English

Discussions continue as issues arise.


Ensure a balanced student workload to optimize student performance.

  • Implement three priority recommendations from the Student Workload taskforce.

2015 - Fall Update


  • Develop Advising Mission Statement, Best Practices Spring 2016 and, given resources, Advising Manual by Fall 2016.
  • Bring in consultants to instruct and assist Advising Team.
  • Investigate value and purchase of Advising/Early Warning software such as those used on other UNC campuses that will facilitate the gathering of information about students so the advisor is fully informed and does not need to rely on the students to pass on information.

Time Tally

  • Create survey for faculty to measure all required student activities.
  • Complete survey & share results.
  • Demonstrate application of survey results on individual curricula/students.


  • Pilot projects in individual classes/studios
  • Research role of reflection in learning.
  • Remain in co-ordination with QEP.
  • Pursue original research studies to conduct on campus.


  • Research and share information with the campus about ways to individualize their education including:
  • flexibility in curriculum & production requirements,
  • interdisciplinary study,
  • international study,
  • student generated work and study.
  • Facilitate student-driven pilot projects for individual/groups that allow Process-Oriented, Interdisciplinary and Innovative Opportunities.


  • Advising Manual beginning
  • UNCSA Reps. attended UNC BOG conversations on advising this month.
  • Scheduled consultants to instruct and assist Advising Team.
  • Met with UNCC Associate Provost, Cindy Wolf Johnson, who runs Advising Program there. She has offered us ongoing support as we create our own materials.  Our goal is to use their existing structure and adapt it for our needs rather than start from scratch.

Time Tally

  • Survey Tool Identified and Construction of Survey for Faculty well underway. Estimate late February launch.
  • In process of attending meetings of various constituencies on campus to inform them of the process and its uses.


  • Committee head Jeff Gredlein has included Reflection measure in Gen Psy classes, and will have 60 data points by the end of the term.
  • Several other Faculty members are implementing modest Reflection Practices in their classes. Updates forthcoming on all.
  • Jeff Gredlein remains in co-ordination with QEP.


  • Informal Working Groups established to research and model several alternative curricular options.
  • Student Written/Directed/Performed Film Opera created in December will offer lessons in the process of Student Directed Intensive Arts Projects.

All Sub-Committees

  • TIME – TIME – TIME. Faculty workload makes collaboration across divisions during school year very, very difficult.  None of the four subcommittees has yet convened with full representation.
  • Advising – Several aspects of the Academic Advising initiative will demand significant time and money. In particular:
      • Creating the manual (modest expense)
      • Implementing a comprehensive system of Advising (significant time and expense).
      • Purchasing and supporting additional advising/EWS software.

All Sub-Committees

  • Administrative/staff assistance in scheduling meetings.


  • Some funds may be available through GA.
  • Other UNC Schools have offered support.
  • Potentially need to offer a lead faculty member or two significant course release time to direct this program for its first year (at least).


  • With QEP - 2 way

2016 - Spring Update

To date, the newly established subcommittee on Academic Advising has completed the first draft of the Advising Manual, worked with advising leaders from UNCC to determine best practices and is continuing to work with Provost’s Office to move forward with establishing a universal advising system for all undergraduates.

Aiming to make student workload clear, measurable, and accurately credited, a SWAG subcommittee worked with Institutional Research to survey faculty on requirements they supervise (90% participation!!!). Members of this committee are evaluating the data this summer in order to help all Academic identify areas of over- and under- crediting.

Faculty Members in Music, Film, Psychology and Humanities are researching the role of Reflection and down time in learning, creative thinking, and innovation to share with all faculty.

Toward the 2-5 year goal, Five-Year Goal to Advance curriculum development for inter- and multi-disciplinary degrees, we aim to pilot an interdisciplinary track with a small cohort of third year students from several different art schools in 2017-2018.

2017 – Update

Ensure a Balanced Student Workload
Leaders: Betsy Towns, Student Workload Task Force

Student Workload Action Group wrapped the major work for the year by sharing results of the Time Survey and Reflection Literature Research in March. Using this information, the Deans group will spend focused time working on the academic calendar and daily schedule this summer.  In the interim, members of the team continue to develop courses and curriculum concepts for transformative programs and curricula dependent on creating time and flexibility in the schedule and calendar.

On June 13 and 14, the Deans met to discuss credit hours, daily schedule, and the academic calendar. At the meeting the Deans began drafting new preliminary models for a daily calendar. Further work on the daily schedule and calendar will continue in FY18.  

Summary materials available at:

2018 – Update

Ensure a Balanced Student Workload

Leaders: Betsy Towns, Student Workload Task Force

Task force work completed in FY17.  Data submitted to inform ongoing discussions.

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors (UNC BOG) recently adopted updates to Policy 400.1.5: Fostering Undergraduate Student Success. A key aspect of the revision was to adopt a standard in which all baccalaureate degree programs must be 120 credit hours, effective for students entering in the fall of 2019.  UNCSA faculty, staff, and students have been working in recent years on a set of initiatives related to rationalizing the academic calendar, definition of a credit hour, daily schedule, and faculty and student workload. A set of working documents was generated in the summer and fall of 2017 that addressed proposed adjustments to UNCSA degree requirements including expectations of work for a credit hour and potential revisions to the daily schedule.  

The new UNC BOG policy requires UNCSA to submit any revised degree programs and any approved exceptions to the President and the BOG by December 31, 2018.

2019  Update

Ensure a Balanced Student Workload
Leaders: Betsy Towns, Student Workload Task Force

Task force work completed in FY17.  Data submitted to inform ongoing discussions.

Discussions continue as issues arise.


Continue to enhance efforts to maximize institutional effectiveness.

  • Submit Institutional Effectiveness (SACS) accreditation report including the approved QEP.
  • Engage two faculty in each arts school and DLA to test the QEP assessment tools. Collect assessment data to use as baseline data and revise the assessment plan based on feedback.
  • Host faculty development activities related to the three learning outcomes in the QEP

2015 – Fall Update


  • Get SACSCOC reaffirmation.
  • Avoid public sanction.
  • Get QEP approved.
  • Identify and acquire a tool for collecting and analyzing QEP assessment data.


  • Focused Report submitted.
  • Site visit planning underway.
  • Developed rubrics for assessing QEP student learning outcomes across the school.
  • QEP written.


  • Assessment and IE needs to be strengthened on campus.
  • Funding to bring in consulting expertise.
  • Support to acquire the assessment tool for QEP.


  • Bring in a consultant this spring.

Next Steps

  • Onsite visit SACS
  • QEP approved
  • Faculty development Summer 2016.


  • No option + Connected.
  • Does something different about a persistent challenge.


  • QEP
  • Energy


  • Production calendar!
  • Music School
  • QEP

2016 – Spring Update

It was a big year on all accounts in our efforts to improve institutional effectiveness.  A great deal of work was put into identifying and developing our Quality Enhancement Plan, QEP, and to writing our 10 year SACS reaccreditation report.  In March, UNCSA hosted our 10 year reaccreditation SACS on-site visit.  The visit was a great success.  Our Quality Enhancement Plan, “Tell Your Story”, was praised by the SACS on-site team and received no recommendations for changes.  Similarly, the review of our report, data, and processes to support our 10 year reaccreditation was received positively, with only 2 items that required follow up. 

Final approval of our reaccreditation will be considered by SACS in December 2016.

2017 – Update

Maximize Institutional Effectiveness
Leaders: David English, Jason Romney

Based on our SACS submission and site visit outcomes, UNCSA received final approval of our 10 year reaccreditation from SACS in December 2016.

This year 12 faculty pilot tested the QEP assessment plan. We revised the rubrics based on their feedback and will continue testing through next year. We hosted a workshop in March with Chris Boneau for faculty, staff, and students to receive training on how to talk about and advocate for your work with the press and potential employers. We plan to arrange a similar training opportunity next year, hopefully in self and peer critique. We are also in the process of identifying a second group of pilot testers to engage with the project next year. Our goal is to have at least 20 faculty participating during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Over the 2016-17 academic year, program representatives have worked to strengthen the collection of actionable data and to make explicit the connection between assessment data and program changes. 

In the fall of 2016, the Institutional Effectiveness Team (IE Team) was re-established under the leadership of the Director of Institutional Effectiveness.  This team, with representatives from each arts school, the Division of Liberal Arts, and the High School Academic Program, functioned as a think-tank and working group for assessment issues. The group provided peer feedback on departmental Student Learning Outcomes and assessment rubrics, discussed ways to best engage faculty in the assessment process, and shared best practices. The members of the group served as faculty leaders and mentors to their respective departments.

In addition to the leadership provided by the members of the IE Team, the Director of Institutional Effectiveness met with the full faculties in each academic department. The Director’s goal for the 2016-17 year was for each department to: revise mission statements and Student Learning Outcome statements to clearly focus on student learning, to develop and implement a new direct assessment tool for at least one of the newly revised Student Learning Outcome statements, to systematically collect and analyze quantitative data from new or existing assessment tools, and to encourage full faculty involvement in the assessment process

For the second year, each educational program submitted an Annual Program Evaluation Report. The template for the 2016-17 assessment reports includes:  1) program mission and goals, 2) student learning outcomes and assessment measures, 3) data findings, 4) data interpretation, 5) action plans and 6) reports on previous action plans. Also for the second year, the Director of Institutional Effectiveness provided feedback to each program using the Annual Program Evaluation Rubric. 

It is notable that, in 2015-16, the action plans for each educational program included the development of new assessment tools. Each department was successful in developing and piloting at least one new assessment tool. In addition, the data yielded by the new assessments was more carefully analyzed and detailed data analysis reports provided back to each department. In every case, the Findings, Interpretation, and Action Plans sections of the reports are more robust and more clearly linked to data. In addition, each department is planning to schedule time during the fall for the full faculty in each department to review the data and to provide additional feedback on the action plans. 

For the 2017-18 assessment cycle, focus will shift to making explicit the linkage between student learning outcomes and how the outcomes are incorporated into the curriculum.

2018 – Update

Maximize Institutional Effectiveness

Leaders: David English, Jason Romney, Karen Beres

In fall 2017, two additional pilot testers were identified from each school and DLA. These faculty received training and were instructed to experiment with the QEP rubrics throughout the year. While that work was happening, we began working with the Office of Institutional Research to develop a reliable process for loading course data into our assessment software. We encountered several problems with this and we were never able to successfully load the full course data into the system. We are currently working with the software vendor to design and test and implementation plan that is achievable. We will need to make a decision on whether to move forward with this software by the end of July 2018. Our backup plan is to use a combination of Canvas assessments and paper rubrics.

It became apparent that the training model for the pilot testers was not a model we could use moving forward when all participating faculty will need to be trained. While the face to face training was effective, it was not reasonable to expect that kind of training could happen with the 111 faculty the Deans identified to participate. Instead, training videos were produced and published on Canvas for faculty to watch. The QEP Director will then follow up on this training with a visit to a faculty meeting in each school to answer questions. These follow up meetings have already happened in Design and Production as well as Music. We have also scheduled practice sessions during faculty enrichment day for faculty to experiment with the rubrics and assessment software before the start of the fall 2018 semester.

Goals for next year include completing the training for all the faculty who will participate, implementing a workable solution to collect assessment data from faculty, and conduct our first round of campus-wide formal assessments. We hope to collect enough assessment data next year to create a baseline for the university that we can compare as we move forward in our efforts to improve.

The Institutional Effectiveness Team experienced a transition year in 2017-18. The year began with submission of a requested Monitoring Report to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in early September. This report presented updated student learning outcomes assessment results from the Academic Program Evaluation Reports (APERs) previously developed by the IE Team for each of the UNCSA degree programs with the excellent guidance and encouragement of the retiring IE Team chair, Jill Lane. The new Director of Institutional Research and Planning (Jeff Paton) reformatted the APER content for the Monitoring Report to highlight key components of the assessment process across multiple years:

  1. Explicit identification of learning outcomes and corresponding performance measures;
  2. Establishment of specific performance targets for the performance measures;
  3. Review and interpretation of strengths and weaknesses among the outcomes;
  4. Development of action plans to address weaknesses among the outcomes.

Approval of the UNCSA Monitoring Report was announced at the SACSCOC annual meeting in Dallas in December 2017. David English, Provost, and Jeff Paton, Director of Institutional Research, met with the Commission Vice President assigned to UNCSA to receive detailed feedback on the Monitoring Report. The review was an enthusiastic response to the reformatted presentation of assessment results and action plans extracted from the APERs.

Jeff Paton convened the Institutional Effectiveness Team on February 5th, to share the SACSCOC approval and to reinforce continuation of the assessment activities summarized in the APERs. Jeff will be meeting with IE Team members individually in the late spring and summer of 2017 to encourage continued development and improvement of assessment activities and to assist with updating the Institutional Effectiveness webpages on the UNCSA website.

2019  Update

Maximize Institutional Effectiveness
Leaders: Karen Beres, Jason Romney, Jeff Paton


Fall 2018 marked the start of our first year of full implementation of our QEP. Training was provided online and at the Faculty Enrichment Day for those assigned by their Dean to participate. We spent the summer of 2018 working with the developer of the assessment software to implement a system that would scale up to the size we needed. One of the weaknesses that we discovered in this new approach was that we have to manually assign faculty to student cohorts in the system. There were several cases where faculty were not assigned to the appropriate student cohorts which led to them having problems assessing their students. The solution is simple and as we get a clearer sense of which students faculty need to be assess, the system will get better. 

We collected 762 assessments in fall and 1044 assessments in spring, but our overall faculty participation remains below 50%. That means that over half of the assigned faculty are not assessing their students for QEP learning outcomes. This is the most significant obstacle to the success of the QEP. Until we can get the faculty participating on a large scale, it is difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions from the data we have collected.

In addition to low participation, most faculty are not directly assessing student performance in QEP learning outcomes. In other words, rather than assessing a specific assignment or activity a student completes related to a QEP learning outcome, most faculty are simply filling out the rubrics at the end of the semester based on their general perception of the students’ abilities. We would prefer more direct assessment data. 

It is clear that in order to get the faculty participation to increase, we need advocates and accountability at the level of each school. Reminders and encouragement from the QEP Director are proving insufficient. For the 2019-2020 academic year we need the Deans to hold faculty more accountable for their participation and we plan to recruit faculty from each school to serve as QEP advocates and support for the faculty in their school. These faculty would receive a small stipend for their participation and would be responsible for assisting faculty in their school with participating in the QEP.

Our goal is to get at least 60% faculty participation next year. As we work to achieve that, we also need the QEP representatives in each school to help their faculty identify opportunities for more direct assessment. 

Institutional Effectiveness (IE)

IE activities in 2018-19 settled into a “stay the course” mode after the transition year of 2017-18. The Director of Institutional Research and Planning, Jeff Paton, convened an IE Team meeting on September 20, 2018 to preview plans for the year.

Vice Provost and Dean of Academic Affairs, Karen Beres, joined the meeting to introduce a preliminary discussion about establishing a formal academic program review process to supplement the current preparation of Academic Program Evaluation Reports (APERs). A follow-up IE Team meeting originally planned for the spring semester to continue the discussion about academic program review was postponed after the announcement that Provost David English would be departing UNCSA. The discussion will be continued after the appointment of a new Provost and with the new appointee’s input.

Jeff Paton continued meetings with individual art school faculty representatives to review the APERs and discuss student learning outcomes assessment results, interpretation, and action plans to address teaching and learning challenges and opportunities. Each school has designated an individual faculty member to assume primary responsibility for program evaluation and assessment. Paton and the Interim Director of Teaching Effectiveness, Nancy Polk, are planning activities for fall semester 2019 to explore strategies encouraging wider, more active faculty participation in the outcomes assessment process, particularly in the interpretation of assessment results and the development of action plans. These efforts will reinforce UNCSA faculty involvement in academic program review and assessment activities as the University prepares to submit the Fifth-Year Interim Report to our regional accreditors, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in the spring of 2022.


Future Years

  • Advance curriculum development for inter- and multi-disciplinary degrees. 
  • Expand producing and presenting programming.