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Montana State University Billings Learning Outcomes

Montana State University Billings has made significant progress in  program assessment.  The campus as a whole has, in fact, embraced a culture of assessment. Assessment in the majority of programs at MSU Billings has become formalized to include multiple measures of student performance, thorough analysis of the assessment data received by faculty, and use of the analyses to inform necessary program changes.

Assessment of university programs overall takes place under the auspices of the Accreditation and Assessment Council (AAC).  The AAC, which includes representatives of constituencies across the campus community, is charged with overseeing the assessment activities of university programs, and reports to the provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. The AAC serves as a clearinghouse for sharing information regarding assessment processes and procedures across colleges and programs.   Through this information sharing, individual programs have the benefit of comparisons and contrasts between the program processes/procedures and those used by other programs. Assessment at the program level takes place within the program or department, overseen by the department chair and/or departmental program assessment coordinators.

Colleges and/or programs with special accreditations (the AACSB-accredited College of Business, the NASAD-accredited Art Department, the NATEF-accredited Automotive and Diesel programs, and the CAATE-accredited Athletic Training programs, for example) maintain rigorous assessment standards required by their accrediting agencies.

Assessment of Undergraduate Programs of Study:
Programs of study at MSU Billings that lead to a certificate, Associate or Baccalaureate degrees in specific areas have student competencies and learning outcomes identified. Programs publish objectives and student learning outcomes in the General Bulletin or the City College Catalog.  Programs’ outcomes are reviewed through annual reports to the appropriate dean or provost’s office. Changes in programs most often result from review of objectives as they relate to student achievement; program, faculty, or student data and state and/or national specialty area standards.  When, for example, the Department of History Assessment Sub-Committee determined in 2012 that one of the History program’s outcomes (Outcome #2: “Use primary and secondary sources to construct historical knowledge through analysis and interpretation”) was not being effectively met, the department created a new course, HSTA 200 Historian as Detective, to begin exposing students to advanced historical research and critical thinking skills before the students begin their upper division courses.  When desired programmatic changes are identified through mechanisms such as this, necessary changes go through the University shared governance process.  They begin with the faculty members in the department, and progress through the disciplinary departments to the college, Undergraduate Curriculum Committee or Graduate Committee, Academic Senate, Provost, Chancellor, and finally to the Board of Regents. The General Bulletin is in effect for two years with revisions occurring during the current two-year cycle to be published in the next. The City College Catalog is published annually, making program revision more immediately available.

Examples of student outcomes and assessment statements for undergraduate programs can be found at the following links:

Athletic Training

College of Education Assessment and Accreditation Report for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

Assessment of the General Education Program:
The General Education Learning Outcomes are listed in the General Bulletin, and generally align with Montana University System guidelines and AAC&U’s LEAP essential learning outcomes. The MSUB General Education Committee works with the disciplines represented in the General Education Core to establish and revise, as necessary, these student learning outcomes for each category, and consistent efforts are being made to assess the success of General Education courses in meeting the program goals. The General Education Committee has worked closely with the Academic Senate to expand their administration of the Educational Testing Service Proficiency Profile exam, chiefly for the assessment of the General Education program.  Additional methods of assessing the General Education outcomes that the General Education Committee is currently developing include application of the AAC&U VALUE rubrics to senior-level capstone projects.  General Education is a topic of central importance to MSU Billings, as reflected in the university’s effort to improve its assessment and relevance through the university’s Strategic Plan, Core Theme 2.G and H.  Recently, the university has invested significant resources in faculty professional development in General Education assessment through the American Association of Colleges and Universities.

Assessment of City College Programs:
Program outcomes for certificate and Associate degrees are published in the City College Catalog. Each program generates an assessment plan and assessment report to comply with requirements of an annual assessment cycle. Learning outcomes are program-specific and reflect standards for each program of study as approved by the College Curriculum Committee and the University Academic Senate.  The Nursing program lists specific student outcomes required by the State Board of Nursing, ranging from a commitment to professional development to the ability to insert an IV. In the Construction program, specific skills outlined in the curriculum are tested through construction of a house that is inspected and marketed to the public. The Sustainable Energy program faculty members assess program and course-specific outcomes in a lab environment. Code-specific outcomes are assessed using the National Electrical Code and State of Montana Regulations. Some certificate programs require a slightly more accelerated General Education core than for the university as a whole. Faculty members assume primary responsibility for formulation and implementation of student learning outcomes that establish the basis for program assessment.

Assessment of Graduate Programs:
Similar to the university’s undergraduate programs, those that lead to Master’s degrees in specific areas have student competencies and learning outcomes identified. Those programs publish objectives and student learning outcomes in the Graduate Catalog as appropriate.  Most graduate studies programs at MSU Billings require a capstone project, professional paper, research paper or thesis. Faculty who teach in the individual graduate programs have developed student-learning outcomes based on the program’s philosophies and desired professional competencies, as well as their vision for their students. Theses student learning outcomes are utilized to gauge student knowledge acquisition and are used to measure student progression within the program of study. Programs that require an internship or field experience as their cumulative project develop a set of goals and objectives for the students’ practical learning experience. Again, in parallel to the university’s undergraduate programs, the development and measurement of departmental goals and objectives are overseen by faculty within individual programs.

Examples of student outcomes and assessment statements for graduate programs can be found at the following links:

College of Allied Health Professions, Master of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling Program Evaluation Report

Masters in Athletic Training Program Outcomes 2006-2013

Learning Assessment Examples