Accreditation & Assessment


GOCC’s Accreditation Process

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 Path-way 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.

To find out more about Glen Oaks
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.

The Standard Pathway

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
The Five Criteria for Accreditation
The Standard Pathway, as in all HLC Pathway models, ensures that institutions are in compliance with the Five Criteria for Accreditation:
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.
Each of the Five Criterion are broken down further into multiple core components. It is the responsibility of the institution to demonstrate that we are effectively addressing each of the criterion and the core components within. A further breakdown of the HLC’s core components can be seen on the HLC Criteria and Core Components webpage.


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 College's student learning assessment processes, as well as college-centered assessment processes, are intended as continuous improvement processes tied in to the College's Strategic Plan. Student- and college-centered outcomes are assessed at the institutional, program/department, and individual course/area levels.

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.

Why Assess?

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:

  1. A guide to student learning, directing students’ attention to what is important.
  2. Feedback to students on their progress towards achieving desired learning outcomes.
  3. Feedback for teachers so that they can identify where it will be most productive to direct their teaching efforts.
  4. A tool to determine, report and certify student-learning outcome achievement.

Course Assessment

According to College assessment process and procedures, course outcomes are to be developed (or changed) when the course is initially created (or changed) through consensus of all full-time faculty in the discipline who teach the course. For disciplines with no full-time faculty, College administration assigns a part-time instructor in the discipline to help develop the outcomes. The same learning outcomes are to be measured and analyzed simultaneously for all sections of a given course identified in a common plan/schedule; therefore, GOCC uses the term Common Course Outcomes (CCOs) to describe these.

For transfer/general education courses, outcomes are developed to maximize the transferability of the course by comparing proposed CCOs to those at peer colleges (for example, other community colleges in Michiana or other parts of the region) and those at the four-year colleges and universities that Glen Oaks students typically transfer to upon completing their educational goals at GOCC.

For core courses in “occupational” programs that prepare students for employment immediately after graduating (such as welding, nursing, or business), outcomes are developed to meet program outcomes and to align with industry standards or best practices – and, whenever possible, to directly prepare students to successfully pass special certifications or board exams (such as ASE certification, Microsoft or Cisco certifications, or NCLEX).

While the Common Course Outcomes are listed on each course syllabus, the assessment of those outcomes usually is built directly into their teaching – so much so that students may not realize they are being “assessed!” Depending on the course and discipline, ways that faculty measure whether students are successfully meeting CCO requirements may include looking at several common questions on a multiple choice (or long answer) exam, a laboratory or clinical assignment showing mastery of a specific skill, components of a written assignment (or the entire paper), etc.

Course assessment also should not be confused with student grades – while your grade may reflect your overall performance in the class based on grading criteria, faculty also define the minimum level of success they want their students to have on crucial specific parts of the course. Once faculty determine how successful students are in all assessed sections, they figure out ways to improve their teaching and make specific plans for changes.

The Assessment Cycle

This graphic shows the steps in course assessment – a circular process because of the need for continual improvement, with assessment results giving ideas on what and how to improve:

Program Assessment

Similar to course-level outcomes, all academic programs at Glen Oaks have Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) defined by full-time faculty who are experts in that field – the knowledge, skills, and abilities that students should possess when they complete the program. And just as it is with courses, program assessment tries to determine how students in a program can successfully show that they have “mastered” these outcomes. The College currently uses a combination of in-class assignments, capstone projects and courses, and external tools (such as state-level or national exams and certifications) to assess program outcomes. With the completion of curriculum mapping, linking specific courses Common Course Outcome (CCOs) to each PLOs, GOCC will be moving towards using CCO assessment data for program-level assessment.

A related, but more comprehensive process at GOCC is Program Review, where the administration and faculty outside the discipline look at academic programs on a five-year rotating schedule. This review is much more comprehensive, including analysis of the structure, processes, and outcomes of the program – including such items as program enrollments, community need/student demand, degrees awarded, costs, and how successful students are at finding employment in their field, as well as student learning outcomes (i.e. what students know and can do at the completion of the program). A systematic review and analysis of assessment findings and the PLOs by faculty teaching in the program is conducted in the year leading up to the scheduled Program Review.

The College follows the schedule below for Program Assessment and Program Review:

PROGRAM Cycle 1 Cycle 2 Cycle 3
Assess Prog Rev Assess Prog Rev Assess Prog Rev
AA General Studies F 2020 F 2021 F 2025 F 2026
AA Visual Arts W 2019 F 2023 F 2024 F 2028 F 2029
AAS Agricultural Eq F 2018 F 2020 F 2024 F 2025 F 2029 F 2030
AAS Agricultural Op F 2018 W 2019 F 2023 F 2024 F 2028 F 2029
AAS Criminal Justice W 2019 F 2021 F 2022 F 2026 F 2027
AAS in Business F 2018 W 2019 F 2023 F 2024 F 2028 F 2029
AAS in Comp Info Syst F 2020 F 2021 F 2025 F 2026
AAS in Nursing F 2018 W 2021 W 2023 W 2023 W 2029 W 2028
AAS Technology F 2018 F 2021 F 2022 F 2026 F 2027
Accounting Cert F 2018 W 2019 F 2023 F 2024 F 2028 F 2029
Ag Equip Tech Cert F 2018 W 2020 W 2024 W 2025 W 2029 W 2030
AS Allied Health W 2020 W 2024 W 2025 W 2029 W 2030
Assoc of Arts F 2018 F 2021 F 2022 F 2026 F 2027
Assoc of Business F 2018 W 2019 F 2023 F 2024 F 2028 F 2029
Assoc of Science F 2018 W 2023 W 2023 W 2029 W 2028
Auto Service Cert F 2018 F 2018 F 2021 F 2022 F 2026 F 2027
Auto Tech Cert F 2018 F 2018 F 2021 F 2022 F 2026 F 2027
Coding Spec Cert W 2019 F 2023 F 2024 F 2028 F 2029
Comp Aided Draft Cert W 2019 W 2023 W 2023 W 2029 W 2028
Comp Supp Tech Cert F 2018 F 2018 F 2021 F 2022 F 2026 F 2027
Distance Learning W 2020 W 2024 W 2025 W 2029 W 2030
Electrical Tech Cert F 2018 F 2018 F 2021 F 2022 F 2026 F 2027
Gen Studies Cert F 2021 F 2022 F 2026 F 2027
Health Care Wrk Cert W 2019 F 2023 F 2024 F 2028 F 2029
Library/TTC F 2018 F 2019 F 2023 F 2024 F 2028 F 2029
Machine Tool Cert F 2018 W 2018 W 2023 W 2023 W 2029 W 2028
Management/Mrk Cert F 2018 W 2019 F 2023 F 2024 F 2028 F 2029
Managemt/Supv Cert F 2018 W 2019 F 2023 F 2024 F 2028 F 2029
Med Admin Spec Cert W 2019 F 2023 F 2024 F 2028 F 2029
Med Assistant Cert W 2019 W 2023 W 2023 W 2029 W 2028
Netw Admin Tech Cert F 2018 F 2018 F 2021 F 2022 F 2026 F 2027
Phlebotomy Tech Cert W 2019 F 2023 F 2024 F 2028 F 2029
Practical Nursing Cert F 2018 F 2018 F 2021 F 2022 F 2026 F 2027
Welding Cert F 2018 F 2023 F 2024 F 2028 F 2029

For more information on GOCC’s assessment process and procedures, please review the Assessment Handbook.

Institutional Learning Outcomes

Institutional assessment (involves assessment of campus-wide characteristics and issues). This is done through obtaining a good understanding of what the college’s graduates know, what they can do with this knowledge, and what they value as a result of this knowledge. Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs) represent the transferable learning skills, knowledge and competencies that students are expected to obtain as a result of their experiences with any aspect of the college; including courses, programs, activities and student services.

Effective April 2017, Glen Oaks Community College adopted four ILOs shown in the diagram below.

  • Communicate Effectively
  • Exhibit Information Competency
  • Recognize Diverse Perspectives
  • Think Critically

In addition, faculty have identified the following dimensions to help operationalize each of the ILOs:

Our students will think critically:

  • Analyze information beyond their opinions and beliefs, and be able to recognize bias.
  • Translate theory into practice and apply prior knowledge to new situations.
  • Locate needed information, know when it is necessary to do so, and judge source credibility.
  • Solve problems logically.

Our students will exhibit information competency:

  • Determine the extent of information needed in order to accomplish a specific purpose.
  • Know where and how to find and appropriately use sources and information.
  • Evaluate the credibility and relevance of sources.
  • Know how to legally and ethically use sources and information.
  • Retain an objective stance.

Our students will communicate effectively:

  • Express themselves orally, in writing and visually.
  • Express beliefs, thoughts and actions in a manner that is understood by participants.
  • Be active listeners.
  • Convey reasoning and understanding in a clear, convincing and precise manner in a given discipline.

Our students will recognize diverse perspectives:

  • Our students will be able to recognize their own worldview.
  • Our students will be able to recognize others’ worldviews.

The College currently uses external tools, such as SAILS, to determine how well students are mastering the Institutional Learning Outcomes. For 2018-2019 academic year, the College is focusing on the analysis of our students’ information competency. Moving forward, Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs) aligned with (mapped to) individual Common Course Outcomes (CCOs) and will be assessed through analysis of aligned CCOs, in addition to any external assessments. Each course will have at least one CCO that is mapped to an ILO – but every CCO is not required to have an ILO.

For more information on GOCC’s assessment process and procedures, please review the Assessment Handbook.