Are you trying to make meaningful changes to student outcomes even though resources are scarce? Would you like your institution to see the bigger picture and get best-practice buy-in? Wouldn’t you love to do this while saving people power, money, and time?
Colorado Technical University (CTU) found out that making some minor shifts in their curriculum alignment helped them realize improved student learning outcomes. The CTU team achieved their goals with a daily attitude of learning something new and figuring out how to do it better.
The CTU team began by working with the team at CTU’s College of Business and Management. The College of Business and Management was ideal because the university uses their courses across many programs.
As Dr. Mel Williams, Director of Institutional Effectiveness, puts it, “At Colorado Technical University, we encourage practices that will help us improve. We take it to heart in all the things we do. Everything we do has a very keen focus on ensuring our students’ success.”
We were thrilled to have CTU participate in Coursetune Camp 2020. Their presentation included some great memes. We’ve shared several throughout this article.
Starting with a SWOT.
“We looked at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to put together a picture that gives us actionable direction. Pairing that with CourseTune? That’s where we started catching a lot of these amazing opportunities to improve the program with sound, informed data.” — Dr. Mel Williams
The CTU team takes a SWOT analysis approach to program review. The team views the approach as a deep-dive opportunity to understand the health and wellness of their programs.
Knowing the status of a program doesn’t tell them enough. The SWOT approach shows where they might need to make improvements. The goal? In this case,
“We looked at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to put together a picture that gives us actionable direction. Pairing that with CourseTune? That’s where we started catching a lot of these amazing opportunities to improve the program with sound, informed data,” says Dr. Williams.
Another benefit? CourseTune’s flexible design allows institutions to share courses across multiple programs for consistent course design and ease of reporting. This feature is perfect for programs like CTU’s College of Business and Management, which assigns core courses across multiple degree programs.
CourseTune helps find the gaps.
“CourseTune came to life for us and made an impact.” — Dr. Niccole Kopit
A critical requirement for the CTU College of Business and Management is accreditation with the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). The team at CTU knows that they must align program learning outcomes with industry accreditation. From accreditation, they can then map deeper into the total program.
As Dr. Niccole Kopit, former University Dean, College of Business and Management, says, “We look at everything holistically – to our course outcomes and then to the course-level assignments. With CourseTune, we were able to take some of that program review data and all that data from the big SWOT analysis and confirm what we already knew. Then we started to act from it. CourseTune came to life for us and made an impact.”
Changing the student experience.
“The value that we had from working in CourseTune is we could see where specific courses weren’t necessarily as required as we thought they were.” — Dr. Mel Williams
When they started the process, CTU thought they were close to ACBSP’s core professional competencies. However, when they looked closer, they saw that they had to focus on the core proficiencies before restructuring their course material.
“I can make changes to my student experience in my assessment data right now. I don’t need to wait for that direct assessment at the end of the course — that formative assessment, that summative assessment. I don’t have to wait until the end to get that. I can make some changes right now.” And so that’s what we did,” says Dr. Niccole Kopit.
When they put their focus on proficiencies, they noticed something about courses.
Dr. Mel Williams explains, “In our program review, we take the courses relatively for granted. We just assume that they’re a part of the program and they’re meant to be there, and they’re there with purpose, and everything’s good. The value that we had from working in CourseTune is we could see where specific courses weren’t necessarily as required as we thought they were. We were able to see where there was saturation of outcomes and alignment for coursework. We were barely hanging on by a thread with their value add to the program in other courses. And so, it’s those kinds of perspectives that this modeling through Course Tune, we’re able to see it so much clearer. Having this visually gives us so many instant cues to where we can really spend our time looking. It’s better than relying on assumptions that its integrity and connection to the material still holds true when the course was added five years ago.”
Changes lead to updated and aligned Program Learning Objectives.
“The guesswork is literally removed. It’s very much more transparent to see those connections of how and why.” — Dr. Mel Williams
Through CourseTune and their work with the College of Business and Management, CTU updated their Program Learning Objectives (PLOs). The result? The objectives are better aligned to the accreditation benchmarks. The team mapped them to the industry for each concentration area. That set the priorities for curriculum revisions.
“All of that came from taking one look at the very first CourseTune program aligned to accreditation,” says Dr. Kopit.
Dr. Williams adds, “I think it was the benefit of working with the College of Business. The guesswork is literally removed. It’s very much more transparent to see those connections of how and why. And so, we have all of these improvements we’re able to do, but now we have confidence behind it. We can speak much more deliberately about why these changes are necessary, which helps us sell the story to our faculty.”
Curriculum Alignment success is contagious.
“We’ve seen improvement in our direct outcome assessment in our capstone course from the changes we’ve made. We’ve seen an increase in our assessment scores. That was the real value add from CourseTune. It truly helped prioritize how we wanted to get where we were going and do so in a way where we didn’t need to wait to the end of any degree program to know where and how to go.” — Dr. Niccole Kopit
Since beginning with CourseTune, CTU has improved 54% of their core courses. They didn’t stop there. They also updated their program learning outcomes. CourseTune not only helped them become better aligned, but it helped the CTU team prioritize.
“It helped us ask where do we need to put our attention first?” says Dr. Kopit, “We didn’t wait until the end. We’ve seen improvement in our direct outcome assessment in our capstone course from the changes we’ve made. We’ve seen an increase in our assessment scores.”
Dr. Williams goes a step further, “It’s the consistency of the results. With CourseTune, the guesswork shrinks down. Everything’s more deliberate. Everything comes together so that you can then work on scaffolding your content through the program. You’ll see how all those courses are genuinely aligned and where the connections are.”
Dr. Kopit summarizes it this way, “That was the real value add from CourseTune. It truly helped prioritize how we wanted to get where we were going and do so in a way where we didn’t need to wait to the end of any degree program to know where and how to go.”
Ready to see actual results in your learning outcomes?
We’re ready to start the journey with you to help bring a transparent, focused perspective on the critical work you care about!
CourseTune delivers one place to design, manage, and plan your curriculum. Our unique, patented, visual curriculum maps equip you with a common platform. One that helps faculty, staff, and leadership focus on the big picture while revealing how learning objectives, competencies, and accreditation criteria impact student outcomes. CourseTune supplies you with the communication and workflow tools that promote collaboration and unlock innovation across your institution.
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