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Developing Programs

Though colleges and universities are accredited by large institutions both regionally and nationally, they often have very different methods for developing programs, approving courses (new and change of delivery format), and for assessment.  Sadly, there is a very large portion of them that have yet to get a handle on building assessment into program design so that it makes sense, so that it is more than just something they do when they come up for accreditation, so that it is something that helps determine what courses will fit into a specific program, and how best to change course content when there is a change in delivery format (e.g. online).

Programs should have at their core a stated list of objectives:  the knowledge, skills, and attitudes students will demonstrate they possess upon graduation.  These objectives need to built into the program design.  The design needs to articulate where the objective will be assessed and on what level of achievement: introductory, intermediate, and advanced.  If this is in place, then it is easy to determine and justify what courses will fit best into the program, as well as what things need to be looked at when there is a change of format.

I’d like to look at this last item first, because it is very often overlooked.  If a program includes an objective that a student will have skill in a certain application program, and that objective is assessed (or taught) in a particular course, then when that course has a change in instructional format, it needs someone to insure that particular objective will still be met.  In the case of a course that is put partially or wholly online, that would mean insuring the student will still have access to that particular application program even if they are not on campus.

To facilitate this, I suggest that programs first begin with their list of objectives, and then these objectives be cross referenced in a table that outlines the program and where they will be assessed (and taught).  (Please see an example below):

Knowledge Objectives:

1.o Auctor tempus elit.
1.1 Dolor urna.
1.2 Arcu vestibulum gravida.
1.3 Amet in, massa donec lacus, enim assumenda.
1.3.a Nibh viverra massa.
1.3.b Tincidunt sit.
1.4 Lacinia dui.
1.5 Enim voluptatum.

Skills
2.0 Tincidunt nam nunc, tempus ultrices.
2.1 Auctor ipsum enim, eget feugiat eu, iusto nec cursus.
2.2 Arcu in sem.
2.3 Sed amet, ut ullam.
2.4 Nunc posuere, eros posuere.
2.5 Lobortis auctor, suspendisse sagittis.

Attitudes
3.0 At mauris duis, donec viverra.
3.1 Nunc leo elit, nec lacus, dolor tempor lectus.
3.2 Gravida pellentesque, turpis tincidunt quis, lacus eros in.
3.3 Nullam urna.

Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior
Course X101

obj: 1.0, 2.0

Course X201

obj 1.0 (adv)

Course X301

obj 3.3 (int)

Course X401

obj 2.4 (adv)

Course Y101

obj: 1.2, 2.3

Course Y201

obj: 1.5 (int)

Course Y301

obj 2.1

Course Y401

obj: 3.1

Course En101 Course En201

obj 2.5, 1.3

Course TTd301

obj 2.2, 3.0

Course Spec401
Course R101

obj 2.0, 3.0

Course Pt201 Course Ex301 Course Ist401