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Effectiveness evaluation


Effectiveness Evaluation

2003-2004

Distance & Distributed Learning

Departmental Mission

The Distance & Distributed Education Center is a university-wide function at UWG which serves to develop and enhance the university's ability to deliver education to students at remote locations, and to meet institutional distance learning goals. Through intercampus sharing of resources, the Distance and Distributed Education Center facilitates collaboration among university colleges and departments to deliver quality distance instruction, faculty and student services, and initiatives.

Departmental Goals

Goals and functions of this department mirror the institutional distance learning goals (http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ distancefaculty/aboutus.htm):

    • Work with faculty to plan and create distance learning environments that encourage and support excellence in a personal environment.
    • In collaboration with other campus and state departments, maintain the human and technical resources and network infrastructure necessary to successfully support and deliver distance and distributed learning, while maintaining the core values of higher education.
    • Ensure that academic and student services are appropriate to meet the needs of distance and distributed learners.
    • Conduct continuous evaluation of distance and distributed learning and support services to ensure the advancement of the university's mission and adherence to quality standards.
    • Support research, scholarship, and creative endeavors which promote knowledge of distance learning.

These goals are reviewed annually in March, by the Distance and Distributed Education Steering Committee, and revised as appropriate.  Outcomes and results are also reviewed at this time, followed by discussions of opportunities for improvement.

 

Departmental Statement of Outcomes, Processes to Assess These Outcomes, and Assessment Results Where Appropriate

Goal 1. Plan and create distance learning environments that encourage and support excellence in a personal environment. Accomplishing this goal will ensure that:
 

  • Student and faculty satisfaction with distance and distributed education courses is high.
    • Fall 2003 evaluations showed that 78% of distance students agreed that their attitude toward online learning was positive at the end of the term. 69% agreed in Spring 2003. 93% in Summer.
    • 70% of students (Fall 2003) said they'd like to take more courses in future mostly online. (Spring 2003 - 63%; Summer 2003 76%).
    • 53% (Fall 2002) said they'd like to take courses in future completely online. (Spring - 59%; Summer 60%)
    • 89% (Fall 2003) said that their instructor was positive about the online component of their course. (76% in Spring 2002; 85% in summer).
    • The number of faculty using distance technologies continues to increase. FY03 totals were 319 faculty, compared to 265 in FY02, and 208 in FY01.
  • Student retention in distance and distributed education is comparable to that of traditional courses.
    • Fall 2003 retention for Distance students was 85.2% for distance students, compared to 90.1% for non-Distance students. Spring 2002 retention for Distance students was 86.9% compared to 88.1% for non-Distance students. Fall 2001 retention for Distance students was 88.1% compared to 88.4%
  • Students enrolled in distance courses have access to student services.
    • The UWG Online Connection (http://www.westga.edu/~online/) provides easy web access for distance students to access student services.
    • February 2004 phone survey indicated that less than 8% of students felt there needed to be improvements for distance students in the areas of advisement, registration process, and orientation. This is the same result of the 2003 phone survey.
  • Student learning outcomes are comparable to those in traditional courses. (ex. http://coe.westga.edu/mit/outcomes/index.html)
    • These are generally the same as traditional, and are evaluated on a departmental basis.
  • Interaction among student-faculty, and student-student are at least as high as in a traditional course.
    • Open-ended responses from written surveys Fall 2003 and Summer 2003 surveys indicate that students appreciate the ability to interact at flexible times with faculty and other students.
    • February 2004 phone survey showed that 40% reported less interaction in DL course with instructor and other students. This is down from 48% in February 2003.
  • Faculty demonstrate competence in developing distance courses whose academic standards and student learning are the same as those for other courses delivered.
    • All faculty MUST complete technical and pedagogical training prior to teaching a distance course.
    • Academic standards and student learning are evaluated on a departmental basis. The DDEC reviews student surveys, class by class, to assure that overall student satisfaction with the faculty and the course are adequate. Since 1998, there have only been two cases in which the faculty competence seemed questionable based on student complaints. These were referred to the appropriate department head and dean. Both faculty members have since left the institution.
  • The number of courses developed and offered through distance media meets the demand of the region's students.
    • The phone survey of February 2004 indicates that more than 44% of distance students believe there are not enough distance courses. This is down from 50% in 2003.
    • Although this is improving, a number of students mentioned in their open-ended responses on the phone survey that they need more online courses.

      Assessment methods: Written student surveys at end of each term, annual focus group with distance students, informal discussions with Distance Learning Steering Committee and distance faculty. Student learning outcomes are assessed by academic units offering instruction. See: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/data/eval/

Goal 2. Maintain the human and technical resources and network infrastructure necessary to successfully support and deliver distance and distributed learning. Accomplishing this goal will ensure that:

  • Faculty are trained and prepared to teach distance and distributed courses.
    • All faculty MUST complete technical and pedagogical training prior to teaching a distance course.
  • Students are able to receive immediate technical assistance through telephone or email.
    • The DDEC staff provide immediate response to technical questions from students weekdays from 8 am until 8 pm weekdays. Students may contact a statewide support line after hours.
    • Helpline satisfaction surveys indicate that all students in January 2003 March 2003 ranked the amount of time it took them to get help at least an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. (The
  • Students and faculty are able to receive assistance through a central point-of-contact.
    • The DDEC provides a central point of contact for support for all UWG distance courses.
  • A variety of delivery methods are available.
    • In addition to the primary online mode of WebCT, distance courses may also utilize Horizon Live for synchronous or archived delivery of lectures, and Impatica for simple audio-visual online presentations.
    Distance courses are easily accessible to a growing number of students and potential students.
    • The total number of online courses offered in FY03 was 132, compared to 144 in 2002, and 104 in 2001.
  • Downtime for courses is non-existent or minimal, with backup plans in place and utilized as needed.
    • Except for scheduled maintenance, the WebCT system residing on the campus server has functioned without interruption since January 2002.

Assessment methods: Written student surveys at end of each term, annual focus group with distance students, informal discussions with Distance Learning Steering Committee and distance faculty, departmental annual self-review. See: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/data/eval/

Goal 3. Ensure that academic and student services are appropriate to meet the needs of distance and distributed learners. Accomplishing this goal will ensure that:

  • Each distance course or program provides students with clear, complete and timely information on the curriculum, course and degree requirements, nature of faculty/student interaction, prerequisite technology competencies, technical requirements, availability of academic support service, financial aid resources and costs and payment policies. See: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/handbook.html
    • Information available on web and syllabi for all distance courses and programs.
    • Information also available in online student handbook, and others online points of access for students.
    • Students may receive orientation online, or if coming to campus for the first course session, receive a live orientation from their instructor or DDEC staff.
  • Students express satisfaction with the level of academic and student services received when taking distance and distributed courses.
    • February phone survey students expressed general satisfaction.  The majority of complaints were course specific.
    • 90% of distance students surveyed in Feb. 2004 phone survey reported that they received prompt and courteous student support from West Georgia as a distance learner.
  • Students are aware of and utilize online resources available to them for academic and student support.
    • According to Fall 2003 and Summer 2003, most students were either satisfied with support services, or said "did not apply." "Did not apply" usually referred to financial aid or career services, which are not needed by a large percentage of students.
    • Sixty-two percent of fall 2003 distance students (up from 48% in fall 2002) reported that they used library services, but 39% (fall 2003) said they were unaware of library services available specifically for distance students (down from 46% in 2002). Sixty-four percent of Feb. 2004 phone survey students also said they used library services. This is up from 48% in Feb. 2003.
    • Phone survey indicated that as many as 64% of DL students get orientation from instructor rather than DDEC or online information. DDEC has prepared kit for instructors to use in orientation for those who choose, in order to make sure that all services are explained.
  • Enrolled students have reasonable and adequate access to the range of student services and resources appropriate to support their learning.
    • Distance students have access to the range of student services and resources that traditional students do, and also special services such as support from the DDEC, and special services from the library. Information regarding services is available at www.westga.edu/~online   

Assessment methods: Written student surveys at end of each term, annual focus group with distance students, informal discussions with Distance Learning Steering Committee and distance faculty, departmental annual self-review. See: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/data/eval/

Goal 4. Conduct continuous evaluation of distance learning and support services to ensure the advancement of the university's mission. Accomplishing this goal will ensure that:

  • Faculty use results of evaluations to improve courses.
    • All distance faculty must complete the Distance Evaluation Summary form, documenting what changes they will make in future distance courses based on their student surveys.
  • Distance learning staff uses results of evaluations to improve programs and services as a whole.
    • The DDEC staff reviews evaluations and completes an annual effectiveness evaluation each Spring. A staff retreat is also held each year to assess staff quality standards, issues and plan for the next year.
  • The technologies selected are appropriate to meet course or program objectives.
    • The DDESC selects technologies for campus use and support based on student need, recommendations from other institutions, and cost-benefit.
    • Individual departments and instructors select from combinations of the various institutional technologies (WebCT, Impatica, Horizon Live) based on the program and course objectives.
  • Documentation of evaluations for each course and the overall distance program is available and accessible.
    • Overall evaluations for student written surveys, focus groups, phone surveys, retention and other data is available at the DDEC website (www.westga.edu/~distance/data/eval/
    • Raw survey data is also maintained by the DDEC and each department offering distance courses.

Assessment methods: Faculty summary of evaluations each term, written student surveys at end of each term, annual focus group with distance students, informal discussions with Distance Learning Steering Committee and distance faculty, departmental annual self-review. See: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/data/eval/

Goal 5. Support research, scholarship, and creative endeavors which promote knowledge of distance learning: Accomplishing this goal will ensure that:

  • Our journal, conference, and certificate programs maintain excellent reputations among distance learning administrators in the United States and worldwide.
    • The journal is required reading for many institutional programs, including University of Nebraska's doctoral program in Higher Education, and is referenced in many papers and books.
    • The conference attracts a growing international audience of practitioners in the field.
  • Our Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration continues to increase in readership.
    • The average edition had 15,000 hits in 2002, up from 8,000 in 2001, and 3,500 in 2000.
  • UWG faculty conduct research to enhance distance courses at UWG and to provide scholarly information to their field.
    • UWG faculty and staff regularly present research at the DLA Conference and other conferences, including SITE, Educause, and other professional meetings. Many UWG faculty articles and books on distance learning are linked from the distance website.

Assessment methods: Certificate program and conference evaluations, readership data of journal, feedback from readers and participants.

 

Effectiveness Evaluation:

2003

2002

Annual Reports:

2002-2003

2001-2002

1999 - 2000

1998 - 1999

1997 - 1998

1996 - 1997


SACS Self Study Response to SACS



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