Accreditation & Assessment
In October 2014, Glen Oaks Community College received notification of the Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC) reaffirmation of the College’s accreditation. The College earned this reaffirmation under the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP).
At that time, the HLC gave Glen Oaks the option to switch pathways for accreditation. Glen Oaks was given the option to stay with AQIP or to change to the Open Pathway or the Standard Pathway. The College Council made the decision to move to the Standard Pathway of accreditation.
So what does that mean? It means that the college is no longer focused on action projects and writing a systems portfolio. In its place, the college will create a living evidence file to demonstrate how the college is addressing the Five Criteria of Accreditation. This evidence file is maintained at all times and updated as needed. Institutions submit an annual Institutional Update that is reviewed by the HLC. This annual update is a by-product of the evidence file and must address any previous areas of concern noted in the latest site visit report.
Community College’s accreditation
status, visit the Higher Learning
The Standard Pathway follows a ten year cycle with comprehensive site visits from a peer review team in years four and ten. Similar to the site visits under the AQIP model of accreditation, these site visits are meant to ensure that the college is meeting expectations for all Criteria for Accreditation, pursuing institutional improvement and complying with federal regulations. The year ten evaluation leads to an action regarding the reaffirmation of the institution’s accreditation.
Glen Oaks Community College participates in the Standard Pathway for reaffirmation of accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
The Standard Pathway seeks to achieve the following goals:
- To enhance institutional value by focusing on quality assurance and institutional improvement
- To reduce the reporting burden on institutions by utilizing as much information and data as possible from existing institutional processes and collecting them in electronic form as they naturally occur over time
- To enhance rigor by checking institutional data annually and conducting Comprehensive Evaluations twice during a ten-year cycle
- To integrate as much as possible all HLC processes and HLC requests for data into the reaffirmation of accreditation cycle
- Criterion One – Mission
- The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly and it guides the institution’s operations.
- Criterion Two – Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
- The institution acts with integrity and its conduct is ethical and responsible.
- Criterion Three – Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support
- The institution provides high quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.
- Criterion Four – Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
- The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments, and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement.
- Criterion Five – Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness
- The institution’s resources, structures, and processes are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities. The institution plans for the future.
At Glen Oaks Community College, the assessment of student learning is a critical component of ensuring college effectiveness. GOCC’s assessment efforts measure and document student learning outcomes, a process that ensures continuous improvement. Indeed, assessment can be understood as achieving several things at once. It is about reporting on students’ achievements and about teaching them more effectively by showing the goals of our academic programs and courses more clearly. It is about measuring student learning and finding misunderstandings in order to help students to learn more effectively. It concerns the quality of the teaching as well as the quality of the learning.
The quality of student learning can be examined at the level of an individual learner or all individuals together – like the whole class, an institution or specific program. Formative assessment will get a sense of how well students are learning during early stages and gives the opportunity to improve one’s teaching. Summative assessment is done once students have had a chance to master a certain skill set, so the instructor can see the outcome of the whole instruction.
Glen Oaks has defined learning outcomes assessment as the systematic process of documenting and using empirical data on the knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs. The College relies on assessment processes to assure and maintain rigorous academic standards and the high quality of teaching and learning. Assessment is also linked to the College’s strategic planning processes and can be conceptualized using the diagram provided.
The College has developed a robust program of co-curricular assessment that is currently fully implemented in the Student Services Co-Curricular areas (Admissions, Financial Aid, Advising, etc.) and is being phased in in Academic Co-Curricular areas (Library, Testing & Tutoring Center, etc.). The annual assessment cycle for co-curricular areas is built around identifying larger “objectives” linking to a single goal that can be operationalized using more specific/measurable outcomes. A visual representation of the goal and its linked objectives from Student Services is shown here:
Of course, assessment also is a requirement for the College’s continued accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, so students can know their courses will transfer to other colleges and universities – and so they can receive federal financial aid, which is only available for classes offered by accredited institutions.
The main purposes of assessment is to provide:
- A guide to student learning, directing students’ attention to what is important.
- Feedback to students on their progress towards achieving desired learning outcomes.
- Feedback for teachers so that they can identify where it will be most productive to direct their teaching efforts.
- A tool to determine, report and certify student-learning outcome achievement.
Institutional Learning Outcomes
Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs) articulate shared, college-wide expectations for all students enrolled in our certificate and degree programs. The ILOs represent a profile of our students upon completion of their credential, and as such, also represent a promise to our students, their families, and our community.
Through coursework and participation in co-curricular activities, students acquire knowledge, attitudes, and skills. Upon completion of a certificate or degree program, transfer to a 4-year institution, or direct entry into the workforce, GOCC students should have met the four Institutional Learning Outcomes identified below. These outcomes were designed to be student-centered and adequately flexible as to allow for multiple forms of assessment across multiple academic programs and student co-curricular experiences.
In line with GOCC’s mission, vision, and values for student learning and development, it is the expectation that all certificate and degree programs teach and assess critical thinking, effective communication, information competency, and recognition for diverse perspectives in a manner appropriate to their field of study. Each of these Institutional Learning Outcomes can be found below along with a description of how they may be assessed.