Monday, April 30, 2012

KCKCC only one of 23 institutions selected for HLC Conference


Kansas City Kansas Community College has received the ultimate in endorsements from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

One of 23 educational institutions nationally invited to participate in Cohort 3 of an Open Pathway Accreditation Pilot program, KCKCC was the only one of the 23 invited to make a presentation at the HLC’s annual national conference held at its headquarters in Chicago.

“Obviously we are very excited and proud,” said Provost Dr. Tamara Agha-Jaffar, who coordinates KCKCC’s initiative with Dr. Sangki Min, Dean of Institutional Services. “To be the only one of 23 institutions chosen for an initiative of this magnitude would be a feather in the cap of any institution. I’m sure that this is the first time in the history of KCKCC that it has been called by HLC to make a presentation at the national conference.”

The Lumina Foundation with assets of $1.4 billion funded the Open Pathway Pilot project of Cohort 3 in which all 23 institutions were given the same Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP).

Created by the Lumina Foundation, DQP is a series of learning outcomes all graduates need to acquire by the time of their graduation.

“Each institution was told to implement those learning outcomes in any way that suited their institution,” said Dr. Agha-Jaffar. “We learned from one institution that they had allocated a budget of $250,000 for the project while we are doing it on a shoestring.”

“Our first step was to merge our Degree Qualifications Profile learning outcomes with our existing 21st Century outcomes,” said Dr. Min. “The implementation of DQP fulfills the requirement of the Quality Initiative process which is one of two required processes of the Open Pathways Accreditation Process.”

The next step was to generate input from members of the faculty, who were asked to map the competencies in each of their syllabi with the corresponding Degree Profile competencies.

“The faculty was great and very cooperative,” said Dr. Agha-Jaffar. “We could not have done it without them.”

“We had a workshop in which course competencies were mapped out to the corresponding DQP learning outcomes,” said Dr. Min.

Once each competency was linked with learning outcomes, Dr. Min was able to create a database.

“HLC was pretty impressed,” said Dr. Min. “With the database, we are able to evaluate a program curriculum in terms of how much and which learning outcomes the curriculum addresses and calculate how students performed and measure student performances on each competency based on the assessment data submitted by faculty through the Online Competency Index form.”

Prior to their presentation at the HLC annual conference, Dr. Agha-Jaffar and Dr. Min presented their initiative to the other 22 institutions, each of which is able to monitor and review the progress of each of the projects of the other institutions.

Dr. John Stone, Associate Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, was especially impressed by the KCKCC initiative.

“You have worked out a wonderfully efficient process for linking scores or evaluations from individual course assignments and courses to your campus learning outcomes by enabling efficient tabulation of assessment data across the courses that make up a student’s major,” wrote Dr. Stone.

“The automation here is ingenious. The tool will allow a wide variety of data mining related to student achievement of the campus learning. Also, the database of course competencies will be a very useful tool for analyzing programs and student course transcripts and will have many uses. Impressive!”

A three-year undertaking, Dr. Agha-Jaffar and Dr. Min have mapped out eight steps or activities for successful completion of the project.

“By the end of the initiative,” said Dr. Agha-Jaffar, “we hope to have established a culture of assessment at the institution; reviewed the overall assessment and reporting plan based on the results from its implementation; reviewed our measure of success in addressing the DQP outcomes and competencies and the curriculum modifications that were made as a result of participation in the project; chart a course for future direction; and issue a final report to HLC.”


PHOTO: One of 23 institutions nationally to be invited by the Higher Learning Commission to partake in an Open Pathway Accreditation Pilot program, an initiative coordinated by Provost Dr. Tamara Agha-Jaffar and Dean of Institutional Services Dr. Sangki Min, KCKCC was the only one of the 23 to present at the 2012 HLC national conference. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)