The University of Alabama, Office for Academic Affairs

Continuous Improvement Policy

Unit:  Office of Institutional Effectiveness
Contact: Ginger Bishop
Title:  Director, Assistant Provost, SACSCOC Liaison
Effective Date: 1/4/2022
Revision Date: 01/04/2022


 
 

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to articulate procedural and reporting requirements for assessment and use of data for improvement in academic and non-instructional units to ensure engagement in best practices and compliance with this policy and with the requirements of The University of Alabama Board of Trustees (Board), the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE), and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
 

Policy

The University of Alabama (UA) strives to continuously improve in achieving its mission, values, and vision. To that end, UA routinely assesses academic programs (including general education), academic support and student support services, administrative support services, research, and community outreach.  Academic and non-instructional units, as specified in the "Procedures" section herein, must maintain systematic plans for assessment and submit annual improvement reports. An assessment plan details the unit’s expected outcomes and the unit’s methods for evaluating the extent to which outcomes are achieved. An annual improvement report includes the assessment plan, assessment results for the preceding cycle, and improvement plans based on review and interpretation of results. Expected outcomes should align with UA and divisional strategic plans as well as national and/or specialized accrediting standards and aspirational goals. Each division determines the level of unit reporting. Each reporting unit submits an annual improvement report to the appropriate divisional leadership as well as the Office of Institutional Effectiveness (OIE). OIE maintains copies of all annual improvement reports for UA per the State of Alabama records retention policy. 

Failure to adhere to this policy will result in progressive disciplinary action.

Procedures

The University of Alabama faculty and staff engage in the continuous improvement process and submit their annual improvement reports to division leadership and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness. Based on their function, units have specific reporting requirements:

Academic degree programs (majors)

This section applies to any plan of study leading to an academic award, including certificates.
  • Three or more student learning outcomes (SLOs);
  • Systematic SLO data collection, a summary of findings, and analysis/interpretation of data;
    • Interpretation of findings must include a comparison of results based on the method of delivery if the program is approved to deliver instruction in multiple modalities (e.g., main campus and online), and/or at additional instructional sites (e.g., main campus and Gadsden);
    • Interpretation of findings may also include comparisons by student characteristics and/or educational practices that may impact student success;
  • Evidence that the program is seeking improvement in student learning through at least one new or ongoing improvement plan each year based on interpretation of assessment results;
  • Documented annual review of assessment results by departmental faculty;
  • Documented annual review of program improvement reports by college or division leadership, or its designee(s).

General Education (Core Curriculum)

This section applies to collegiate-level general education competencies and the established learning outcomes for all undergraduates who complete UA's general education (core curriculum) requirements. Institutional learning outcomes are established by the consensus of the University's faculty. Assessment planning, analysis, and reporting is an institutional responsibility overseen by the Office for Academic Affairs and/or its designees.
  • Institutional student learning outcomes;
  • Systematic data collection and summary of findings;
  • Documented review and analysis/interpretation of assessment results by the Office for Academic Affairs and/or its designees (e.g., Undergraduate Council);
    • Analysis/interpretation with disaggregated results based on student characteristics of import;
  • Evidence that the university is seeking improvement in undergraduate student learning through at least one new or ongoing improvement plan each year based on interpretation of assessment results;
  • Public dissemination (e.g., via website) of assessment results and improvement plans.

Academic and Student Support Services

These units promote student success with direct support to faculty and students as related to UA's educational mission, indirect support for student learning, and/or support of UA's co-curricular mission for student development. These services are provided typically by units in Student Life and the Office for Academic Affairs (e.g., University Libraries, Office of Disability Services, Financial Aid, Admissions, Office of the University Registrar).
  • Expected outcomes related to student learning and/or student success, as applicable;
  • Systematic data collection and interpretation of the assessment results;
  • Analysis/interpretation with disaggregated results based on student characteristics of import;
  • Evidence that the unit is seeking improvement in student learning/success through at least one new or ongoing improvement plan each year;
  • Documented annual review of assessment results by unit staff;
  • Documented annual review of improvement reports by division leadership, or its designee(s).

Administrative Support Services

These units support UA’s mission through effective, efficient operations and indirect support of the educational mission. These services are provided typically by Finance and Operations, Research and Economic Development, Community Affairs, and Advancement.
  • Expected outcomes (e.g., efficiency or quality of service, monetary targets) consistent with the unit’s function in the institution;
  • Evidence of data collection and interpretation of results, including the extent to which outcomes are achieved;
  • Evidence that the unit is seeking improvement in expected outcomes;
  • Documented annual review of reports by division leadership, or its designee(s).

Scope

This policy applies to all divisions, colleges, departments, academic programs, research centers and institutes, administrative support units, academic support units, student support units, and outreach programs. The University’s administration, including the President, Vice Presidents, Provost, Associate Provosts, Deans, Department Chairs, Directors, Coordinators, and Supervisors, with involvement from faculty and staff, are responsible for implementing this policy.
 
 

Office of the Provost

Approved by Dr. Lesley Reid, Associate Provost, 01/04/2022