A Strategy for Assessing Student Learning Outcomes for Military Students

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A Strategy for Assessing Student Learning Outcomes for Military Students. United States Distance Learning Association May 2010 Dana Offerman , Provost Excelsior College. Session Overview. Introduction to Excelsior College Overview of Military Education at Excelsior College
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A Strategy for Assessing Student Learning Outcomes for Military StudentsUnited States Distance Learning AssociationMay 2010Dana Offerman, ProvostExcelsior CollegeSession Overview
  • Introduction to Excelsior College
  • Overview of Military Education at Excelsior College
  • Online course completion data
  • Persistence and graduation data
  • Strategies for student engagement and success
  • Student Learning Outcomes for Military Students“Does the institution periodically capture student learning data specific to military students and use such results to improve programs and services for military students?”Principles of Good Practice for Higher Education Institutions Providing Voluntary Distance Education Programs to Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and Their FamiliesFraming the Questions
  • Importance of degree completion for the benefit of individual students, for the US’s economic vitality, for retention and satisfaction of service members, and for success of veterans.
  • US degree completion is lagging behind other developed countries; we need 16 million more degrees by 2025 to remain globally competitive
  • 45% of Americans never attended college
  • 12% of current military has a bachelor’s degree
  • Attrition is costly to the student, to the military and to society.
  • Lack of common definitions of “success” within the higher education community. Standard definitions (IPEDS) do not fit the adult learner or the military student because they are for first time/full time students.
  • What we do with metrics to improve programs and services for military students?Excelsior College
  • Private nonprofit educational institution founded in 1971 as an assessment based college
  • A leader in nontraditional and distance education with more than 126,000 graduates worldwide
  • Ranked by Military Advanced Education (MAE) as one of the top ten colleges nationwide for service to the U.S. military.
  • Ranked #1 in 2008 by US News and WorldReport for:
  • Greatest number of transfer students
  • Highest percentage of students 25 years and older
  • Title IV federal financial aid, scholarship programs, veterans affairs education benefits, private loans, and payment plans
  • Accreditation
  • Accredited by the Commission of Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Associate, baccalaureate and master degree programs in nursing accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC)
  • Baccalaureate programs in electronics engineering technology and nuclear engineering technology accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission (TAC) of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
  • Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies program accepted into full membership by the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs (AGLSP). This constitutes accreditation in the field of graduate studies.
  • All programs registered (i.e., approved) by the New York State Education Department
  • Excelsior College Examinations are recognized by the American Council on Higher Education (ACE), Center for Adult Learning and Educational Credentials, for the award of college-level credit. EC exams in nursing are the only nursing exams approved by ACE.
  • Demographics
  • More than 31,000 Enrolled Students
  • 8,400 of them are active duty military
  • 90% From Outside New York State
  • 33% From Groups Historically Underrepresented
  • Average Age of 40 Years
  • Over 126,000 Graduates (38% military)
  • Excelsior College Degrees
  • Excelsior College awards degrees in 27 programs:
  • 24 at the associate and baccalaureate level in business, health sciences, liberal arts, nursing, and technology
  • and 3 at the master's level in business, liberal arts and nursing.
  • It also offers six credit-bearing certificate programs in business, health sciences, liberal arts, and nursing.
  • Paths to degree completionThe Excelsior College ProcessMilitary Student Success at Excelsior College
  • Advising support, military advisors
  • Military friendly policies and practices
  • Online support services
  • Formative & Summative Assessments
  • Formative assessments—making progress
  • # of credits transferred in
  • Course completion rates
  • Early alerts—are students active and engaged in courses
  • Persistence vs. retention—what is the difference? How do different institutions define these measures?
  • Satisfaction (PSOL)
  • Financial aid—once TA is exhausted for the fiscal year and students need to be counseled about other forms of financial aid (GI Bill, Title IV), should institutions be tracking the financial issues and difficulties?
  • Summative assessments—completion
  • Degree completion
  • Time to degree
  • Excelsior College Course Completion RatesBy active military status and course type2008-2009
  • Overall undergraduate course completion rate is 95.6%
  • Overall graduate course completion rate is 95.6%
  • Completion rates are a % of courses that were completed during the given time period; they are the complement of the withdrawal rates. Any grade other than W or MW was counted as a completion.
  • Excelsior College Course Passing RatesBy active military status and course type2008-2009
  • Overall undergraduate course passing rate is 84.3%
  • Overall graduate course passing rate is 91.3%
  • Course passing rates are defined as the proportion of courses ending within the given time period in which a grade of P or C or better in a graded course is earned.
  • Persistence Rates
  • Percentage of enrolled students who have engaged in at lest one of the following activities within the past six months:
  • Attempted an Excelsior College course
  • Attempted an Excelsior College exam
  • Transferred in credit
  • Registered for the clinical assessment for nursing
  • Participated in a nursing preceptorship
  • Participated in a nursing online course or workshop
  • Persistence RatesTransfer Credit Accepted Toward Degree Requirements for Military Students (average per student)Note: Excelsior College Course Option requires 6 semester credits for AAS degree programs and 12 credits for AS/BS degree programs. Excelsior College MultiSource Option does not require a minimum number of institutional creditsOverall Satisfaction Questions from the 2009 Priority Survey for Online Learners (PSOL)*p < .05; Items are rated on a Likert scale from 1 to 7 with 7 being most satisfied.Times to degree completion in years, FY 2009Degree completion rates across programs by military status*too few military students for comparisonPlease note that the average time to completion for our largest Associate degree program is approaching three years. Many students successfully complete the program over a longer period, which is not reflected in the three year rate.Strategies for Engagement and Success
  • Early success and degree planning
  • Maximum transfer credit and multiple sources of credit
  • Minimal residency requirements
  • Military consultants located a military installations nationwide who provide on-site advising and degree planning services
  • Specially designed military-specific orientation and veterans success courses
  • Prescribed advising (rather than developmental) that appeals to the student who is leading a highly organized and regimented life (not too many choices!)
  • Clear path to degree completion
  • Strategies for Engagement and Success
  • Persistence and Retention
  • Faculty expectations in online courses and mandatory faculty orientation
  • Course extensions for deployment
  • Military friendly academic programs (Professional Studies)
  • Course assistants to monitor engagement
  • Online and CD-ROM options
  • Options for alternative assignments in online courses for deployed military, built into the course design
  • Short courses (e.g. 8 week) to meet military operations tempo
  • Monitor student engagement (electronically & manually)
  • Strategies for Engagement and Success
  • Structural Considerations
  • Centralized Center for Military Education staffed by specially trained advisors and admissions counselors
  • Military Office part of academic affairs
  • Executive director/dean member of major college policy and planning groups; advocate within the institution
  • Faculty development on issues and concerns for military students
  • Challenges, Opportunities, Recommendations
  • Sheer volume of the need is massive
  • Expend resources to eliminate waste/attrition
  • Advocate for generous transfer of credit to reduce time/cost to degree completion
  • Engage in voluntary accountability consortia to present consumer information (see Transparency by Design)
  • Examine institutional practices and policies and develop internal accountability
  • Disaggregate all data and metrics to track military student success
  • Design military-specific intervention strategies
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