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3.4 All Educational Programs

Comprehensive Standard:

3.4.7 The institution ensures the quality of educational programs and courses offered through consortial relationships or contractual agreements, ensures ongoing compliance with the Principles, and periodically evaluates the consortial relationship and/or agreement against the mission of the institution. (See Commission policy "Collaborative Academic Arrangements.") (Consortial relationships/contractual agreements)

Statement of Compliance:   In Compliance.

Narrative:

The University of West Georgia has consortial agreements for the following three educational programs: eCore (Electronic Core Curriculum), WebMBA (Master of Business Administration through online collaboration), and European Union studies (through online collaboration). The University of West Georgia policy on Consortial Relationships can be found in the Faculty Handbook, Policy 512 [1].  It should be noted that in accordance with the SACS policies on "Substantive Change for Accredited Institutions of the Commission on Colleges" [2], the University notifies SACS/COC of substantive changes [3].  

eCore (Electronic Core Curriculum)

The University of West Georgia hosts the eCore (electronic Core curriculum) program that offers University System of Georgia (USG) students an opportunity to complete the first two years of their collegiate careers in a fully online environment [4]. All eCore courses are taught entirely online, except for the occasional proctored exam. There are currently nine USG institutions participating in eCore: University of West Georgia, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Clayton State University, College of Coastal Georgia, Dalton State College, Fort Valley State University, Macon State College, Southern Polytechnic State University, and Valdosta State University [5]. The University of West Georgia provides administrative oversight of the eCore program, including financial affairs, instructional design, enrollment management, and faculty and student support. The University of West Georgia also houses the Dean of USG eCore and all other administrative staff.  The program is governed by the eCore Subcommittee, the members of which include the Vice President for Academic Affairs of each affiliate University System of Georgia member institution, the Dean of eCore, and a representative from the University System of Georgia.

The general education core curriculum for eCore was developed and approved by the Council on General Education in 2000-2001. The eCore general education core curriculum courses reflect the requirements for core curriculum courses as set forth in the University System of Georgia Academic & Student Affairs Handbook, Section 2.4 Core Curriculum [6] (USG Academic & Student Affairs Handbook §2.4 Core Curriculum: see link below). Thus:

"The University System of Georgia core curriculum is composed of basic courses in the humanities, physical and social sciences, mathematics, languages, and other areas considered fundamental for any four-year degree" [7].

The council on General Education estimated that the learning outcomes of the eCore core curriculum courses correspond to approximately 80% of any given institution’s learning outcomes (see eCore Factbooks [8], [9]).

The University of West Georgia signs a Service Agreement with the Board of Regents [10]. Each of the affiliate institutions is required to sign an eCore Affiliate Letter of Intent [11]. These two documents provide details on registration, academic policies, finances, student and faculty support, program evaluation and operations for the participating institutions. The Service Agreement is reviewed annually.

The University of West Georgia performs the role of the Administrative Provider. Thus, the University of West Georgia is in charge of assessment of retention, student success, faculty performance, course evaluations, comparisons to face-to-face courses, and the achievement of learning outcomes. All eCore courses meet or exceed the requirements for a 5-Star Online Course. The requirements of a 5-Star Online Course were developed by the University of West Georgia and are based on principles of good practice [12]. The courses are evaluated and subsequently revised by teams of eCore faculty every three years with input from the appropriate academic departments from each affiliate institution. The Affiliate Letter of Intent requires the selection of a "representative for membership on the eCore Subcommittee, to provide cross-campus faculty oversight of the eCore program."The review of assessment outcomes, and modifications to program outcomes or course learning outcomes is a function of the eCore Subcommittee.  

The quality of the program is ensured through various ways which include student success (eCore FactBook 2011, p. 22 [8]; eCore Factbook 2012, p.28 [9]) and professor evaluations (eCore FactBook 2011, p. 24-35 [8]; eCore Factbook 2012. P. 43-45 [9]), and assurance of learning objectives (eCore FactBook 2011, p. 49-65 [8] ; eCore Factbook 2012, p.57-77 [9]).  Faculty teaching in the eCore program integrate assessment processes within the context of individual classes.  Each course is assessed one time per year, and all evaluation and assessment results are reported to the Dean of USG eCore. The assessments are embedded within assignments in the course and are not conducted as “extra” assignments.  Each eCore course has a set of course-level learning outcomes, including one or more that are mapped to the General eCore Curriculum Learning Outcomes (eCore FactBook 2011, p. 49-65 [8]; eCore Factbook 2012, p.57-77 [9]).

As mentioned above, each affiliate institution selects a qualified individual to serve on the eCore governing body – the eCore Subcommittee. This individual is typically the Vice President for Academic Affairs or his or her designee.  The Dean of eCore provides all assessment data to the eCore Subcommittee on an annual basis. Assessment data for all areas, including student success and effectiveness of faculty instruction, are provided to all affiliates in the annual eCore Factbook Assessments associated with learning outcomes may be identified for improvement by eCore faculty (all of whom teach at University System of Georgia institutions) or by affiliate institutions (via their Subcommittee representatives). These suggestions for improvement are acted upon by the Subcommittee as appropriate and are reflected in course-specific improvements or adaptations. Results are also provided to affiliate institutions for inclusion in their general education assessment activities.   

WebMBA (Master of Business Administration through online collaboration)

The Georgia WebMBA available through the University of West Georgia Richards College Business offers professionals the opportunity to earn an accredited online MBA degree [13]. All participating institutions are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB), the premier accrediting body for business degree programs. The program is designed as a lockstep program in that students in each cohort complete all courses together.   As one of the collaborating institutions, the University of West Georgia admits students into this program each year.

The Georgia WebMBA program has one lead institution that oversees the program and its financial affairs. This lead school also houses the Executive Director of the program. There are six schools collaborating: Georgia Southern University (lead school), Georgia College and State University, Kennesaw State University, University of West Georgia, Valdosta State University, and Columbus State University. The program is governed by a board that consists of the business school deans from each participating institution and the program’s Executive Director. Each affiliate signs a contract (Memorandum of Understanding), which provides details on admissions, academic policies, finances and operations for the participating institutions [14].

The quality of the WebMBA program is ensured in various ways which include student and professor evaluations and assurance of learning objectives.  Faculty teaching in the Geaorgia WebMBA integrate the assessment processes within the context in individual classes.  Each course is assessed one time per year.  The course assessments are embedded within individual course assignments and assessments are not conducted as “extra” assignments.   All results are reported to the Assurance of Learning (AOL) Coordinator (AOL). The AOL coordinator compiles the data and makes the information available to each University Dean via a website [15], [16], [17], [18], [19].

Certificate in European Union studies (through online collaboration)

The Certificate in European Union Studies is a collaborative program that involves sixteen institutions of the University System of Georgia and LaGrange College (a non-USG school in the state of Georgia). The program was first conceptualized by the Board of Regents to promote inter-institutional collaboration among faculty and students interested in the changing global dynamics associated with the end of the Cold War (BOR Minutes of August 8, 2000 [20]).  As such, the Certificate in European Union Studies program operates under the supervision of the University System’s European Council. Documentation of the Board of Regents approval for this program is available [21], [22] . 

The University of West Georgia joined the program in 1998 [23]. The Certificate in European Union Studies is designed to use existing courses (i.e., courses that had been created and were used in other academic programs before this program was launched at UWG).  As a result, it does not represent a significant departure from the previously approved by SACS programs, and it did not require approval from SACS.  More information about the Certificate in European Union Studies is provided in the Graduate Catalog [24].

Certificate in European Union Studies courses offered in Summer and Fall terms are rotated from an already-approved catalog of eight courses; each course is offered at least once every two years. This catalog was approved at the time of program creation by a group that included faculty representatives from each participating USG institution, as well as the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, and the University System of Georgia Board of Regents.   Courses offered during Spring term are “special topics” classes. When faculty teaching in the Certificate in European Union Studies propose a course for inclusion in the curriculum, the suggested courses are reviewed for academic content, alignment with required learning outcomes, and academic rigor. The final approval process is completed by the Executive Committee of the European Union Studies Program. The Executive Committee of the European Union Studies Program is composed of five members from five participating institutions and who come from a range of academic disciplines.   

Professors who wish to teach in the Certificate in European Union Studies program must apply and must be found qualified to teach upper-division courses in the University System of Georgia by the Executive Committee of the European Union Studies Program.

Student learning outcomes for the Certificate in European Union Studies program are assessed on an on-going basis throughout the academic year. Each instructor is responsible for assessing students through class discussion, exams, quizzes, assignments, and term papers, among other assessment tools. In addition, students evaluate each course via a standardized (for each course) online assessment tool. Faculty are assessed, in part, on the basis of student evaluations at a face-to-face meeting held each November. Each course is assessed for content by the Director of the Certificate in European Union Studies program and the faculty and updated each time it is taught.

The Executive Committee meets yearly to discuss relevant issues which include program and course evaluation, and student and faculty participation in the Certificate in European Union Studies program. The Director of the program and members of the Executive Committee meet in conjunction with program administrators from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in order to review the curriculum and evaluate the program. These meetings may be conducted as telephone conference calls or in-person meetings.

Currently, there are no University of West Georgia students enrolled in the University of West Georgia Certificate in European Union Studies program. Therefore, there are, as yet, no assessment data specific to this program for the University of West Georgia. 

Supporting Documentation: