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3.3.1.3 Educational Support Services

The institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of improvement based on analysis of the results in each of the following areas: Educational Support Services.

Judgment of Compliance

PVAMU SACS Accreditation - Judgement Compliance

Narrative of Compliance

Prairie View A&M University's core values [1] and mission statement [2] help to shape its educational and educational support services. The University identifies within its educational support services expected outcomes, assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of improvement based on the analysis of assessment results. From 2004 to 2007, academic and student affairs (educational and educational support functions), were administered by one vice president. Since 2007, educational support services have been distributed throughout the university under the egis of three vice presidents: the Vice President for Student Affairs and Institutional Relations; the Vice President for Administration and Auxiliary Services; and the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. To be sure, under these three vice presidents working collaboratively, faculty and staff members have become increasingly more involved in educational support services, such as: service-learning; tutorials; supplemental instruction; mentoring; recruitment; and marketing activities.

The movement of programs and services administratively from one vice president to another has had a positive effect. For example, it illustrated how interrelated the educational and educational support programs must be for the university to deliver on the following commitments reflected in excerpts from the mission statement [2]:

  • Achieving relevance by addressing issues and proposing solutions to needs and aspirations of individuals, families, organizations, agencies, schools, and communities both rural and urban
  • Serving a diverse ethnic and socio-economic population
  • incorporating research-based experiences in both undergraduate and graduate student’s academic development

 

As noted in Core Requirement 2.10, there are extensive educational support services.  The focus of this report is upon those services assessed in relationship to accomplishing the key goals set forth in the Priority Plan.  As noted in Core Requirement 2.5, the 1999-2004 planning period was impacted by the U.S. Department of Education’s finding that the vestiges of a previously segregated system of higher education had not been eliminated in Texas higher education; the Texas Accountability System; the Texas A&M University System’s Integrative Plan; the State’s Higher Education Plan, known as Closing the Gaps; and impending changes in the University’s mission.  The result was the finding that the University could not achieve its “first class” distinction or attract students based on non race-based characteristics unless programs, systems, facilities, and resources were strengthened and enhanced.  At the center of the new Vision [3] reflected in excerpts below was the student whose learning and development depended upon upgraded support services:

    • educate for professions and for meaningful societal participation, first-generation College students, many of whom come from families regarded as the un-served and/or under-served educationally and economically.
    • Educating for leadership in the professions, persons regardless of social and economic background, whose educational promise and career aspirations make them especially suited to advanced undergraduate study via honors programs and services and to graduate study through the doctorate.

 

Salient among educational support services changes and improvement in the 1999-2004 planning period include but were not limited to the following:

  • Opened New Student Phase I, II, III privatized housing and designated Phase III as an intensive learning and living community for student scholars.
  • Opened University College Community in fall of 2000.
  • Implemented on-line search for holds by students giving them the opportunity to clear them and “breeze” through the registration process.
  • Participation in the Texas Common Application for Admission Program.
  • Established on-line course equivalencies with various junior and community colleges.
  • Implemented Transfer Student Scholarship Program.
  • Produced a Counselor’s Guide.
  • Produced an updated professional recruitment video and CD-ROM.

 

In June 2001, one year into the implementation of the Priority Plan, the University’s President appointed the Institutional Assessment Council [4] to provide broad support for training, identify needs, review data, and assist with the management of processes linked to establishing a culture of evidence which would fuel continuous quality improvement.  In the spring of 2004, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs created the Assessment Coordinator position to work in tandem with the Council as well as the Office of Institutional Research.  By fall 2005, the University, through the Assessment Coordinator, reaffirmed the expectations evident in the 1999-2004 Strategic Planning Process.  The 2005 written requirements and institutional expectations were recounted in the Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment Monograph: A Practical Guide to Assessment Planning 2007-2008 [5].

Institutional assessment cycle commitments were included in assessment plans.  The assessment cycle began with requests for the following: 1) unit mission statements aligned with the University mission; 2) unit core values aligned with the University core values; 3) goals, objectives and outcomes; 4) detailed assessment cycles; and 5) results detailing the use of data to improve the unit.  By fall 2005, several units completed their first assessment cycle but with wide variations in completeness and identification of measures.  Examples of assessment cycles were not developed and shared uniformly.  However, examples of assessment plans preceding the 2005 institution-wide mandate can be seen in sample Strategic Plan Updates 1999-2004 for Admissions [6], Housing [7], Office of the Registrar [8], and the Office of Recruitment and Special Programs [9].  After the assessment process gained university-wide acceptance, several educational support services were again at the forefront of developing assessment plans.  These included Diagnostic Testing and Disability Services [10], Student Conduct [11], Student Activities and Leadership [12], Culture Series and Special Programs [13], Intramural Sports [14], All-Faiths Chapel [15], and Career and Outreach Services [16].

Given the primacy of educational support services in creating and sustaining an environment supportive of student learning as committed in the Priority Plan, changes and improvements in services that span entry to exit in student matriculation are cited in this report.  Current assessment reports for the educational support services addressed below include Admissions [17], Records [18], University College [19], University College Division of Academic Enhancement [20], The Writing Center [21], Student Financial Aid [22], Diagnostic Testing and Disability Services [23], Student Activities and Leadership [24], Campus Dining [25], Residence Life-Housing [26], and Career Outreach Services [27].

Admissions. For its outcome of ensuring fairness and uniformity in applying the university’s undergraduate admissions standards, the Office of Admissions adopted fully the online application process, Texas Common Application, and it established a functioning Appeals Committee to establish a uniform rubric-based method of screening applicants who are denied admission but later appeal. Measures:  Texas Common Application standards; TAMUS Audit; Admissions records. Discussed in Core Requirement 2.10 and Comprehensive Standard 3.4.3.

Records (Office of the Registrar). For its outcome of improving efficiency with special attention to timeliness and responsiveness, the Office of the Registrar developed a set of rules and procedures specifying timelines for tasks, employed an Assistant Registrar, and purchased software for onsite diploma production.  Measures: Internal audit, TAMUS audit, Campus Compact Survey. Discussed in Core Requirement 2.10 and Comprehensive Standard 3.9.2.

University College. For its outcome of providing holistic, intrusive advising to positively impact freshman student success, the University College found that in 2004, 60.5% of the students indicated on the ACT Advising Survey that they had been advised four or more times but in 2005 on the same survey, only 51.2% reported that they had been advised.  Inferring that satisfaction with advising is correlated with frequency of advising sessions, the University College concluded that a change in expectations for advisors was necessary to improve the student satisfaction rate.  In fact, the advisors’ student contact expectations were increased and changes were made in their workloads that resulted in their increasing individual advising sessions.  The result was that in 2006, there was a 4.4% increase over the 2005 report of frequency of advising sessions.  Measures: ACT Advising Survey; advisors’ reports. Discussed in Core Requirement 2.10.

University College-Division of Academic Enhancement (Tutorial Services). For the outcome of promoting student success by reinforcing and supplementing classroom instruction in a broad array of disciplines, University College-Division of Academic Enhancement (Tutorial Services), the unit found in 2004, that services had not kept pace with demand when there was support for over 35 courses.  By 2008, over 10,000 tutorial sessions had been offered in over 50 different courses. Measures:  NSSE, Sign in sheets, weekly and monthly logs, gate keeper course statistics, and student evaluations. Discussed fully in Comprehensive Standard 3.4.9.

The Writing Center. For the outcome of facilitating students' improved writing skills, the Center conducted 450 conferences in FY 2007 and achieved a 5% return rate—students who came back repeatedly—whereas the Center conducted 959 conferences (an increase of 110%) with a return rate of 22% for FY 2008. Student satisfaction ratings for tutors averaged 3.87 on a 4.0 scale in 2008. Twenty-five tracked students earned an A, B, or C as noted in assessment reports. Measures: student surveys; Writing Center in-take data, grade track, and Title III annual report measures.. Discussed fully in Comprehensive Standard 3.4.9.

Student Financial Aid. For the outcome of awarding student financial aid to qualified students in a timely, accurate manner, Student Financial Aid found in 2005 that students were “extremely” dissatisfied with the services received from application to award.  By 2006, following a set of external reviews, the unit reorganized; strengthened training; improved electronic communication with students and parents, and extended training to personnel in schools/colleges and cross-trained.  There was improvement. By 2007 awards by the due date increased approximately 20%; by 2009, the adoption of additional strategies such as eliminating the manual calculation of the Student Academic Progress (SAP) and certification of student loans resulted in making awards to 77% of the eligible students by July 1. Measures: External reviews; audits; fiscal affairs reports. Discussed in Core Requirement 2.10 and Comprehensive Standard 3.10.3.

Diagnostic Testing and Disability Services. For the outcome of offering each student with a documented disability the appropriate, reasonable accommodations necessary to access University programs and services students, it was found that in 2005 there was not a uniform set of rules and procedures for disability services; the University had not made sufficient progress in bringing all facilities into compliance with ADA guidelines; and there was no on-site diagnostic testing service available.  By 2006, the Office of Disability Services published the Student Handbook and Faculty Advising Guide, installed the much needed ramp for the Club Room in the University Village, and employed an educational diagnostician.  Measure:  Paper based Student Disability Services Satisfaction Survey; Online Faculty Student Disability Services Survey; ADA Guidelines. Core Requirement 2.10 and Comprehensive Standard 3.4.9.

Student Activities and Leadership. For the outcome of promoting  students’ development as committed in the university’s core values (Leadership, Social Responsibility), Student Activities and Leadership found in 2007 that training for student leaders was too narrowly focused. In 2008, the Student Leadership Institute was expanded from three and one-half days to six and a half. Measures: student impact statements; participation rates; fiscal reports.  Discussed in Core Requirement 2.10.

Campus Dining. For the outcome of providing adequate, convenient campus dining services for students, faculty, staff and visitors, Campus Dining found upon the 2002-2003 opening of the one-stop Student Development Center referenced in the Priority Plan that the modern dining facility was being over subscribed during peak periods and that student satisfaction was low.  In 2006, the service was expanded by 1,564 sq. ft. with the opening of the Jazzman Café in the J.B. Coleman Library.  In 2008, the space was increased by 1,000 sq. ft. when the Purple Zone, a sports grill, was opened in Farrell Hall. Measures:  Participation rates; customer service survey; record of career fairs. Discussed in Core Requirement 2.10.

Residence Life –Housing. For the outcome of providing residents in campus housing transportation to more distant sectors of the campus in a convenient, timely manner, Residence Life (Housing), which is administratively in the Administration and Auxiliary Services units where Transportation resides, determined in 2003 that students were experiencing late arrival to class and to other activities due to lack of reliable transportation on campus.  By 2004, the Shuttle Bus Service had been established, but there were continuing problems with reliability; therefore, students’ use of the service was limited; in 2008, a tracking system was instituted and equipment maintenance was established to improve. Measures:  Shuttle Service participation rates; customer service survey; student complaint ledgers. Discussed in Core Requirement 2.10.

Career and Outreach Services. For the outcome of assisting students with achieving their post-college goals, Career and Outreach Services found in 2003 that the opportunities for graduating students were not robust enough given the diversity of academic disciplines and the broadening needs of the students.  In 2004 the unit had 126 technical and non-technical, graduate school, and government agencies participate in the annual career fairs. By 2008, the number had increased to 169, but with a high number of 179 in 2007.  Assistance with career fairs in the disciplines as well as personal resume preparation and active location of internships and cooperative education experiences also contributed to the increased opportunities made available for students. Measures:  Record of companies, agencies, and graduate schools participating annually; Semester Career Outreach Services Survey; student evaluations; career fair participant surveys from student and agency representatives.

Overall, PVAMU has a demonstrated commitment to effectiveness in educational support programs and services from conception of intended outcomes up to use of results for improvements. The process involves a network of staff from various divisions of the institution examining evidence to determine outcomes, strategies, means, assessment frequency, results, and use of results.  The assessment process encourages direct and indirect means guided by the needs of the functional area in order to decide how well the program and staff meet standards of performance and success. Prairie View offers relevant data collected over time to support and validate the judgment of compliance in the area of institutional effectiveness of support services.


Comprehensive Standards 3.3.1.3

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