Institutional Learning and Improvement
Minnesota State College Southeast continually improves its services, programs and courses through continual, rigorous review processes occurring throughout the institution. The College pursues its Strategic Plan through the establishing of overarching annual goals by the Strategic Planning Council. These goals are determined through annual appraisal of institutional performance benchmarks via the Minnesota State Accountability Dashboard, the data for which are impacted by the continual evaluation of departments, programs, and student learning outcomes. Specific examples of evaluation include the Assessment of Student Learning initiative, annual program advisory committee meetings, and the College's formal Program Review process.
Assessing Student Learning
Assessment (or measurement) of student learning, drives improvement of courses, programs and services at MSC Southeast. By establishing student learning expectations, and measuring against those expectations, the College assures its stakeholders (students, taxpayers, employers, institutions accepting credits in transfer, and accrediting agencies) that the College continually improves and that our students are meeting stakeholders' expectations.
Assessment of student learning drives instructional improvement as well as investments in teaching tools and facilities; it is the root of institutional learning.
Specific to students, the College incorporates publicly communicated expectations, or Outcomes, into its programs and courses in these ways:
College-wide Learning Outcomes (CLOs) apply to all diploma- and degree-seeking students. These outcomes influence long-term success and have been identified as those skillsets our communities and employers seek from MSC Southeast graduates. Common Learning Outcomes are often measured at the end of a program usually by the program faculty, though these can be measured by both general education and program faculty in collaboration to reinforce each outcome. MSC Southeast's CLOs are:
- Communicate Effectively
- Exhibit Accountability and Professionalism
- Demonstrate Problem Solving
Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) describe what students will be able to do upon completion of the coursework linked to that outcome. PLOs are listed on the program page for each major offered at MSC Southeast. PLOs are assessed by faculty in a variety of ways: a presentation, an internship, a special project, etc. This assessment might include a grade as part of an evaluation or might be pure assessment where the faculty are measuring learning for the purpose of continuous improvement.
General Education Learning Outcomes (GELOs) are measured within general education coursework typically by general education faculty. GELOs are also included within program coursework and can be measured by program faculty. These outcomes reflect the College's General Education Philosophy of providing a foundation for lifelong learning:
- Effectively read, write, speak, and listen in formal English
- Demonstrate self and group awareness
- Apply appropriate use of technology to increase digital literacy
- Gather, analyze, and use information to solve problems and support opinions
The College's GELOs are closely related to goals within the ten areas of emphasis of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum.
Assessing student learning is a foundational activity that drives instructional improvement. Results from assessing CLOs, PLOs and GELOs are incorporated into forums and processes designed to foster the changes necessary to capitalize on the data gathered. Examples include:
Program Advisory Committees
Comprised of employers, faculty, graduates and students, program advisory committees are required of all career-oriented programs at MSC Southeast in these areas:
- Business & Management
- Health & Medicine
- Human Services
- Musical Instrument Repair
Annual meetings include the review of Program Learning Outcomes for viability. The advisory committee holds the program accountable in ensuring that graduates are meeting the entry-level needs of the employers the College is serving. Advisory committees approve changes to the credentials a program offers and to curriculum; they are key to MSC Southeast offering current/desired career-oriented pathways leading to gainful employment.
Required for all College programs within a four-year cycle, Program Review takes an in-depth look at each program's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats through data analysis, including results from the assessment of student learning outcomes. A cross-functional team is charged with the creation of an improvement plan which maps a program's evolution over a four-year period. Accountability is built into this process through the annual review of improvement plan goals and deliverables by administration and faculty.