Standard 2 – Educational Program and Its Effectiveness
The institution offers collegiate level programs that culminate in identified student competencies and lead to degrees or certificates in recognized fields of study. The achievement and maintenance of high quality programs is the primary responsibility of an accredited institution; hence, the evaluation of educational programs and their continuous improvement is an ongoing responsibility. As conditions and needs change, the institution continually redefines for itself the elements that result in educational programs of high quality.
Evergreen's strategic plan identifies the college as unique in American higher education, locating itself as “the nation’s leading public interdisciplinary liberal arts college.” Since the early years of the college, Evergreen has expected students to assume significant responsibility for their learning. They were expected to define their own work and design their own course of study from the opportunities offered by the faculty in programs (full-time learning communities) and through work designed with individual faculty members. This concept of the student differed sharply from the one presupposed by both large public universities and small private colleges. The new college in Olympia would offer a reinvigorated liberal arts teaching for all. The college’s commitment to interdisciplinarity, student engagement, and collaboration rests on this vision of an inclusive, public, egalitarian liberal arts education.
Evergreen traces its origins to debates within higher education in the 1960s and 1970s. These debates involve two quite distinct critiques that contributed profoundly to the college’s pedagogical assumptions and practices. First came a critique of the multiversity, the large-scale public multi-disciplinary institution that blossomed in the post-war years. From the point of view of this critique, most forcefully embodied in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, the multiversity existed primarily for the benefit of corporate/governmental interests. It functioned to maintain a supply of useful technicians and professionals. This critique saw the public university as serving class interests rather than living up to the ideals of a democratic educational system that would educate citizens broadly. The second critique assessed the liberal arts tradition as manifested in the small private liberal arts colleges. This critique began with the stodginess and irrelevance of the canon, and the unwillingness of liberal arts colleges to take on the issues of race, class, war, and revolution. This critique centered on the failure of the liberal arts colleges collectively to act on their own professed values as they distanced themselves from the world of action. In the face of the crisis of civil rights, the Vietnam war, and questions of class privilege the liberal arts were stuck defending texts, traditions, and positions that did not question the status quo. The critique of the multiversity questioned the failure of democratic education and the lack of moral judgment about public policy. The critique of the small liberal arts college viewed the moral tradition and ethical questions as outdated, abstracted from the world, and hence irrelevant. These debates in the context of the turmoil of the times made it possible for such important moderates as then Governor Dan Evans and State Senator Gordon Sandison to call for a new college that would take a new and alternative approach to college education.
The founding faculty of Evergreen, for the most part men in their thirties and early forties, envisioned a college that, above all, was engaging. They wanted a public college that could provide the best elements of the liberal arts college – a college that could acknowledge and deal with ethical issues, one which saw the world as intellectually comprehensible and one which offered students opportunities to learn and to act for the good of the community, not simply for individual or corporate aggrandizement. In the planning year, the work of Alexander Meiklejohn, Joseph Tussman, and John Dewey provided models of educational reform that took intellectual rigor and public engagement as fundamental goals. In short, they believed in public education as a public good. They hoped for an education that would support action, engagement, and collaboration with diverse others; an education within a meaningful community context. They created an education that offered opportunities and curricular structures geared to engaged learning, not passivity. They wanted students to take control of their own education, to make real value-centered coherent choices about what they learned, how they learned, and what they did with the education they received. At the heart of these desires was a passionate debate about concern for authentic learning. All of the above characterizations of the college were contested, but in the crafting of the structure, a template the college has been tinkering with and transforming ever since, these were central values.
As was argued in the opening pages of this self-study, the president and the founding faculty wanted to create a public college devoted to teaching and learning in an interdisciplinary, collaborative framework within which students must exercise autonomy and judgment. Charles McCann’s four nos – no academic departments, no faculty ranks, no academic requirements, and no grades – were seen as a vehicle to liberate faculty and students. The lack of departments and ranks allowed faculty to work and collaborate across disciplinary boundaries and across differences in age and experience. The lack of requirements and grades freed students to work together to share and collectively create their learning without endangering their own class standing. Collaboration, not competition, became the fundamental vehicle for organizing teaching and learning. While within the college the breadth of the challenge to the conventions of higher education was reasonably well understood, the external world tended to know the college in its first decades primarily on the basis of the above negatives and on the basis of the inevitable conflation of long hair, protest, and defiant optimism with a hippie haven and/or radical protest.
It is in this context of extraordinary student and faculty autonomy that the college has developed. The individual student is responsible for the content of his or her degree. The faculty, while they exercise significant control over the work of students in programs, frames its desires for the overall outcomes of student work at the college in terms of expectation rather than requirements. As part of the response to the last round of accreditation the college developed Six Expectations of an Evergreen Graduate:
- to articulate and assume responsibility for your own work;
- to participate collaboratively and responsibly in our diverse society;
- to communicate creatively and effectively;
- to demonstrate integrative, independent, critical thinking;
- to apply qualitative, quantitative and creative modes of inquiry appropriately to practical and theoretical problems across disciplines; and
- to demonstrate depth, breadth, and synthesis of learning and the ability to reflect on personal and social significance of learning as a culmination of your education.
These are clearly expectations, not requirements. The faculty, when they adopted them, saw them as both an appropriate response to a concern for breadth across disciplines and as an articulation of the need for students to identify and take responsibility for their work at the college.
Standard 2.A – General Requirements
2.A.1 Institutional Support to Academics
The institution demonstrates its commitment to high standards of teaching and learning by providing sufficient human, physical, and financial resources to support its educational programs and to facilitate student achievement of program objectives whenever and however they are offered.
Academic offerings are supported by faculty, facilities, equipment, and staff support.
Facilities supporting academics include teaching spaces and offices. Each faculty member teaching half-time or more is provided an office. Those teaching less than half-time may be allocated a shared office space. Faculty offices average 140 square feet, in accord with state standards.
Faculty are allocated computers, software, and peripherals in accordance with their teaching and professional development needs. Regular faculty are provided new computers with a turnover rate that averages four years. Visitors and adjuncts are provided reassigned computers from inventory when possible or new computers if adequate computers are not available. Faculty and academic staff computers are funded from a dedicated summer school revenues pool that provides $225,000 per year for this purpose. Due to the wide range in computing needs, faculty request and receive a variety of computers: laptops, desktops, Apple, PC, high-end processors, and more standard configurations. This also applies to software and peripherals.
In addition to individual faculty resources, space and equipment are also provided for specialized facilities including computer labs, media labs, science labs, art studios, performance spaces, galleries, research space, etc. The college has a dedicated equipment fund of approximately $250,000 per year, often supplemented by additional funds when special initiatives, such as renovations, warrant it. Each year academics, like other divisional units across the campus, identifies new and replacement equipment needs that support the curriculum. These lists are prioritized in a master list for funding. In general, roughly one-third of the equipment requested by the academic division in any given year is actually funded. This is sufficient to meet the most critical curricular needs, but not enough to provide anywhere near all of the equipment requested. The college depends on equipment grants to partially or completely fund the most expensive equipment. Faculty collaborate with the grants office to pursue this funding.
Each academic program is also awarded a budget based on the number of students expected to enroll and the kind of goods and services that will be needed to deliver the curriculum. Program faculty complete budget requests that include expenses for photocopying, honoraria for guest speakers, supplies, motor pool vans for field trips, film/video rentals, laboratory and studio expenses, etc. Programs anticipating higher-than-usual expenses, such as those with an international travel component, may include additional support in their request.
Approximately $340,000 per year is available for program budgets. This is on average two-thirds of the total requests from the faculty. There is an additional budget of $300,000 to fund student aides in support of academic programs. These budgets are divided among approximately 150 academic programs during the academic year (Summer School, Tacoma, Graduate Programs and the Reservation-Based program have their own budgets for program support). This provides approximately $40/student/quarter (ranging from $300/student/quarter to $10/student/quarter) in direct academic program support. This may appear high, but one needs to bear in mind that the Evergreen academic program operates in a very decentralized mode; without departments, there is little budgetary structure between the organizational top and the individual faculty member or faculty team. Hence, faculty are given direct control over the many resources required to support their academic program. In most cases, these resources prove to be adequate for the goals faculty have in mind.
A number of academic support services are centralized, including academic budgeting, support for travel, institutional research, and grants. Professional staff provide technical support for both the arts and sciences, and these are budgeted through the Provost’s office. Again, this support is typically adequate although demand for this support varies from quarter to quarter and year to year depending on the curricular offerings. Faculty are assigned program secretaries that support the narrative evaluation process and provide administrative support to program activities.
Programs at off-campus sites (Tacoma and the Reservation-Based programs) are an integral part of the college's offerings, and are supported at the same or higher level.
2.A.2 Educational Goals
The goals of the institution’s educational programs, whenever and however offered, including instructional policies, methods, and delivery systems, are compatible with the institution’s mission. They are developed, approved, and periodically evaluated under established institutional policies and procedures through a clearly defined process.
In the work leading to the college’s first strategic plan and in the 1988 self-study for accreditation, the Five Foci of an Evergreen Education were first enunciated. They have served the college well over the years as a central articulation of its mission. The following section lays out the five foci and articulates the ways in which these foci are implicated by the work of reflexive thinking, and lead the educational practices of the college.
The Five Foci of an Evergreen Education – interdisciplinary study, personal engagement in learning, linking theory with practice, collaborative/cooperative work, and teaching across significant differences – have played a central role in creating both a curriculum and a rationale for a curriculum. They inform both the programs and our articulation of them at all levels of the institution. These foci capture much, but not all, of what is done at Evergreen. Many of our actual activities contribute to more than one focus.
The Five Foci of an Evergreen Education
Interdisciplinary study is fundamental at Evergreen. At the heart of such study is the intellectual conviction that academic disciplines have limits inherent in their epistemology, their explanatory concepts, and the like and that, in the presence of complex phenomena, the inadequacy of isolated accounts from different disciplines is revealed. Seldom if ever are the accounts of any one discipline all that can or needs to be said about such phenomena. Further, the attempt to understand phenomena apart from their context in the world often simply misses the critical importance of the phenomena and their meaning. For us to know complexly and think reflexively demands that we see from diverse perspectives and ask our own questions of the phenomena we study. An interdisciplinary approach provides students with at least three crucial intellectual understandings that help them recognize their perspectives and generate their questions. First, different disciplines can indeed hold different and valid understandings about a particular phenomenon. Interdisciplinary thinking pushes students beyond a disciplinary understanding and forces them to complicate and contextualize their views of what is at issue. Second, interdisciplinary study illustrates the ways in which different disciplines illuminate differing aspects of reality, thus extending and complicating student views of what a phenomenon actually is. Finally, an interdisciplinary understanding more accurately reflects the world as students encounter it in internships, volunteer service, and field research. The significance of interdisciplinary work and the ways in which it supports students as they move beyond Evergreen is echoed in alumni survey data and qualitative accounts.
There is little orthodoxy about which church of interdisciplinarity Evergreen faculty members attend. Acolytes of instrumental multi-disciplinary, thematic study, project-based experience and more teach at the college, yet nearly all agree that interdisciplinary work provides the essential pattern that allows for the emergence of connections, the creation of new kinds of understandings, and ultimately the possibility for students to find their own way to work in the curriculum. Students experience interdisciplinarity in a variety of ways, but at the center is the sense that the pieces of work that they are asked to do within a program fit together in complex and surprising ways (Student Focus Group - Standard 2 - Feb 7, 2008). Faculty, as they become effective as interdisciplinary teachers, retain skills and competencies they brought with them to the college and expand into new competencies and connections as they work and learn with colleagues and students over the years (David Marr, Personal Comments 2/08). All that is interdisciplinary is not team teaching and vice versa. Individual faculty members often expose students to more than one discipline and single programs with two faculty members with similar backgrounds may or may not be interdisciplinary.
The founders of Evergreen wanted to create a college where students felt deeply engaged with the process and substance of learning. At its heart, personal engagement in learning was understood to be the students’ development of a capacity to know, to speak, and to act on the basis of their own self-conscious beliefs, understandings, and commitments. The reflexive capacity to think about one's own work that emerges and develops throughout a student’s engagement with the material and other people over time is central to their sense of commitment. The emphasis on participation, on reasoned evaluation and involvement in their own, their colleagues, and their faculty members’ work, strengthen this engagement. Engagement then is more than interest. It involves complex reflection on the significance and meaning of what we know; it reflects a concern for the consequences, effects, and implications of understanding as a part of knowing. Such engagement is supported in the college’s emphasis on full-time study for sixteen quarter-hours credit per quarter. The lack of graduation requirements compels students to make personal choices about their work. Such work in the end could be something quite conventional, such as medicine or art history or it could be rather unconventional, such as becoming a kayak maker, an independent filmmaker, or a specialty vegetable farmer. What distinguishes this work is the way the work implicates the person as whole.
Work in programs, especially programs that extend across several quarters, is engagement in a full-time learning community. Here the relations are to the material, but also to the persons with whom one works. This conflation of persons and materials can lead to an intensification of engagement that creates powerful, shared intellectual, social, personal, and aesthetic excitement. Students discover that personal growth and engagement in a community are often complementary realities. This complex reality in which students pursue their own goals through shared endeavor and cooperation is the center of the experience of a learning community and critical to most students' experience of Evergreen. The capacity students develop to know, learn from, and accept the work of others constitutes a challenging exercise in representational thinking – thinking through the eyes of another.
Linking Theory and Practice
Linking theory with practice arises from student engagement in a social context. Engaging in a dialogue between their intellectual understandings and direct experience with the phenomena they study (texts, social behavior, scientific or artistic work) strengthens both and allows students to place their growing sense of personal work and commitment into a realistic and purposeful context. The necessity of linking theory with practice arises out of a central concern for educational relevance and the college’s commitment to providing an education that will promote effective citizenship.
Theory, central concepts, or ideas then are regularly tested in three major ways in students' experience at the college. First, students are asked to take their experience in the classroom into the world, in hands-on projects, internships, performances, presentations, case studies, and a wide variety of research work. Learning about a phenomenon is tested against the experience of it. Ideally an Evergreen student should be learning and being challenged in the classroom and the world outside the college. Beyond this, theory and ideas are tested against the disciplinary and interdisciplinary phenomena they are purported to explain. Does the theory in fact illuminate the phenomena? If so, how and to what extent? Finally, theories and ideas are tested against the context of culture and society within which they arise. How do theory and ideas inform cultural practices? How are theories and ideas explained by power relations, religious interpretation, or some larger cultural/social reality? Thus the linkage of theory and practice is fundamental to the development of judgment, to the awareness of the cultural and political dimensions of knowledge, and the creation of active citizens who are capable of entering into dialogue with the world in which they live. In the learning community of the program and the broader community, students are challenged to take responsibility for their work and their judgments. By bringing the experience of the classroom into the world and vice-versa, the student is pressed to understand her knowledge as a substantive description, as a personal experience, and as a political and social phenomenon.
Collaborative/cooperative work anchors the educational experience at Evergreen. The capacity for sharing and creating work within a cooperative context of respect for individuals and their diversity of perspectives, abilities, and experiences, is a central motif of nearly all Evergreen studies. In an array of practices such as seminars, group projects, narrative evaluations, peer critique of student work in all fields, and the inclusion of students from widely diverse backgrounds and experiences within programs, the fundamental assumption is that students benefit from participating in a learning community to create their own educations. This practice takes the idea of representational thinking head-on and suggests that as we come to see, understand, and incorporate others' understandings of experience, our own becomes deeper and more complex. Reciprocally, as we are seen and understood by others, we come to know ourselves differently and better. As students share their understandings of their learning they transform their experience and learning into meanings. Thus work in the context of a community of learners is central to the development of a capacity for risk, judgment, and responsibility.
The fundamental pedagogic assumption is that learning is both a personal and social activity. The work of the college assumes collaboration is in the long run more conducive to the creation and acquisition of complex understandings and useful knowledge than is self-centered competition. By creating collaborative learning communities the college seeks to create both a context within which quite diverse ideas and concepts can be examined, but also a context that allows students to bring to the classroom some of that array of conversation and learning that in most schools occurs informally. This inclusiveness of experiences and ideas from other portions of the program and from student lives creates learning communities that can capture and promote the experience of real dialogue about ideas, texts, art, and experience that make education engaging and exciting. The college encourages cooperation because we believe, despite the rhetoric of competition in this society, that most of the work that is accomplished in the world is a product of cooperative, engaged choices. The capacity to collaborate is the most fundamental of public skills.
Teaching and Learning Across Significant Differences
Teaching and learning across significant differences reflects the fundamental recognition that as learners we do not bring to our experience of education the same array of qualities and life experiences. These differences provide the source of our capacity to learn from each other and, potentially, a barrier to that learning. These socially defined and personally experienced differences include such obvious and important categories as race, ethnicity, religion, class, sexuality and gender which underlie so much of American experience, but they also include less obvious and well defined and understood experiences as age, disability, first generation college experience, rural or urban upbringing, or personal qualities such as intelligence, shyness, mental illness, and the like. Within the context of the college, differences bring both a potential for great learning and a possibility of great damage. They call upon us to develop qualities of respect, attentive listening, and sensitive and thoughtful speaking. They are at the heart of our capacity to communicate and to participate responsibly in a diverse seminar and community.
Central to Evergreen’s experience of these differences is the practice of narrative evaluation and the desire to promote collaboration. While these practices have their own pitfalls, they suggest that a single standard and an assumed uniformity of experience is not the case and that respectful recognition and awareness of difference is an essential element in working with students to help them define and achieve the overall goals of an Evergreen liberal arts education. As with cooperation and collaboration, this focus suggests that the role of representational thinking through the eyes of the other is a critical capacity in the development of a complex reflexive understanding and worldview. Learning and the reflexive thinking about the embeddedness of knowledge in history, in critical social differences, creates a context in which the exercise of freedom to promote new understandings entails a responsibility to imagine and know the impact of our acts on others.
The Six Expectations of an Evergreen Graduate
In the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 school years, at the urging of the Commission, the college undertook a review of its understanding of General Education. During two years of debate, discussion, and struggle, the college rejected requirements and produced an important document that articulated the goals of an Evergreen education from the point of view of the student. This document – The Six Expectations of an Evergreen Education - has proved useful in expressing for advisers, students, and prospective students some of the elements that describe an effective pathway through Evergreen. The goals are understood to be just that – goals – not subject matter requirements nor mandatory skills. Thus while students may, and often do, undertake meeting these goals, the requirement in fact falls on faculty to make sure that as often as it makes sense, opportunities to meet the goals are present in the curriculum and their teaching. As will be more explicitly argued below, the goals map in complex and important ways onto the five foci and can be seen as a rearticulation of the foci in terms of potential outcomes for students.
The Six Expectations of an Evergreen Graduate are:
- to articulate and assume responsibility for your own work;
- to participate collaboratively and responsibly in our diverse society;
- to communicate creatively and effectively;
- to demonstrate integrative, independent, critical thinking;
- to apply qualitative, quantitative and creative modes of inquiry appropriately to practical and theoretical problems across disciplines; and
- to demonstrate depth, breadth, and synthesis of learning and the ability to reflect on personal and social significance of learning as a culmination of your education.
The work students are capable of is seen as complex. They link and engage analysis from different disciplinary perspectives. They see cultural/social contexts. They communicate understandings that are significant to themselves and their society. Such an education then neither replicates the faculty, nor simply replicates the disciplines, traditions, professions, and skills that they profess. Instead, it encourages each student to ask his own questions, to test his own hypotheses, and to make new mistakes. This education is at once potentially conservative and radical. It's conservative in that the work is tested against the society and academic disciplines broadly, and radical in that it is always implicitly a challenge to existing conventions and knowledge.
At the heart of Evergreen’s understanding of education is a belief that whatever that education is in terms of substance, it should be self-consciously and thoughtfully chosen by the student. Each student should see and articulate his own work in the context of engagement with others. Skills and capacities are not autonomous and instrumental, but embedded in the context of a person’s education as a whole and more broadly embedded in the social order through participation in and reflection on that order by students. Thus the fundamental goal can be seen as developing a capacity for reflexive thought on the part of students. This reflexive capacity demands both engagement with and inquiry into the world and the work of the student as an active, self-conscious participant in the world.
The five foci and the six expectations are different articulations of very similar understandings about the central nature of Evergreen. The foci speak primarily to the content and nature of the curriculum offered. They articulate the emphasis on interdisciplinarity, cooperation, work across difference, the constant interplay of theory and practice, and student engagement. The six expectations are an expression of how the qualities of a curriculum organized around these ideas should be manifest in its graduates. Here is one version of the relationship of the foci and expectations:
Personal Engagement – Articulate and assume responsibility for your own work. Participate collaboratively and responsibly in our diverse society. Reflect on the personal and social significance of your learning.
Teaching and Learning Across Significant Difference – Participate collaboratively and effectively in our diverse society. Communicate clearly and effectively.
Collaboration - Participate collaboratively and effectively in our diverse society. Communicate clearly and effectively. Articulate and assume responsibility for your own work.
Linking Theory and Practice - Apply qualitative, quantitative, and creative modes of inquiry appropriately to practical and theoretical problems across disciplines. Demonstrate integrative, independent, critical thinking. Demonstrate depth, breadth, and synthesis of learning and the ability to reflect on the personal and social significance of that learning.
Interdisciplinary – Communicate creatively and effectively. Demonstrate integrative, independent and critical thinking. Apply qualitative, quantitative, and creative modes of inquiry appropriately to practical and theoretical problems across disciplines.
As a part of the work on reaccreditation this year, the college invited Elizabeth Minnich to talk with the deans and a small group of faculty working on the self-study. Her discussion of reflexive thinking captured a good deal of what Evergreen sees as distinctive and important about the education and experience that Evergreen students engage as they work in and around the curriculum as it is structured by the five foci and the six expectations. (Elizabeth K. Minnich, "Knowledge, Thinking, Judgment: For Good or For Ill,” Long Island University: TASA Award Lecture, April 27, 2006; Elizabeth K. Minnich, Teaching and Thinking: Moral and Political Considerations,” Change, September/October 2003, pp.19-24)
Reflexive thinking begins with a question, an interrogation of the world, and an encounter with the other. As such, it involves the student in the whole process of substantive learning about subjects, disciplines and methods that is the standard domain of learning. But reflexivity is the capacity that a learner has to think about the situation and conditions that underlie her own personal and collective experience of thinking and knowing. She can be aware of how she has learned and what she has become through the process of learning. Minnich, following Nietzsche, argues this form of thinking makes the learner a “problem” for herself. Not only does the learner come to know the ostensible subject of the learning (a text, a geological strata, or a piece of music), but through that knowing new questions emerge such as: how the subject is involved in a whole array of questions about the learner’s own motives; his embeddedness in society; or his desires and development. Beyond that, reflexive thinking allows the student to ask questions about how the ostensible subject has come into being in a society and become enmeshed in a complex historical and social web of connections and power that underlie that discipline. Students learn to see the accounts of disciplines as partial. Thinking that makes our understanding of self and society problematic creates inquiry that is unbound by disciplinary concerns. As a person strives to understand his situation, an extraordinary range of understanding from the very personal to that of any array of disciplines can become critical lenses for seeing or understanding the situation. The student emerges as problems for herself that can be seen as arising from multiple points of view.
As learners come to understand themselves and learning in this complex way, they exercise freedom and judgment about what they have learned about themselves, and the material, social conditions that allow this way of knowing to exist. In other words, the learner starts to exercise freedom and responsibility about the knowledge he has about the society, himself. Through judgment he creates new meanings. These meanings typically do not take the given assumptions that lie behind the disciplines as settled truths; they inherently challenge established understandings. This process of creating new meanings necessarily engages the learner with others in a public process of sharing understandings. Participating in this world of reflexivity pushes the individual learner to recognize difference and diversity of views and positions. In particular it demands that the learner engage not simply in reflection, but in representational thinking, thinking through the eyes of others. This extraordinarily difficult and never completely successful mode of thinking forces a learner to take seriously the understandings and ways of perceiving and knowing that exist in the world. This process of thinking through the eyes of others demands that the learner, and indeed the community she is a part of, must learn to think historically. This means that she sees how the structure of ideas that define our views of others has come into being and is changed over time. It also implies that she sees how social institutions have grown up historically to define the place of others and ourselves in a society. Finally, knowing of this sort is iterative, each encounter, each attempt at restatement, each expanded understanding or more clearly defined insight, opens the door to response and further learning. The fun never stops. Thus reflexive and representational thinking are ultimately necessarily both very personal and public.
This way of thinking about an Evergreen education is attractive because the questions that underlie it are so simple to pose and so powerful when fully examined. “How do you know what you know?” and “So what?” are the fundamental questions. These questions open up for the student the whole range of conditions that make up her position in the world and ask her to take responsibility for understanding some of the consequences of her situation and her knowledge. Evergreen programs make a wide range of choices about how much they engage in these questions, but nearly all pose them for students and urge students to take on these issues as they think about their work and evaluate their experience.
2.A.3 Degree Programs Offered
Degree and certificate programs demonstrate a coherent design; are characterized by appropriate breadth, depth, sequencing of courses, synthesis of learning, and the assessment of learning outcomes; and require the use of library and other information sources.
At the time of this writing, Evergreen offers three graduate degrees, Master in Teaching (MIT), Master in Public Administration (MPA), and Master in Environmental Studies (MES). A fourth master's program, the Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with endorsements in Mathematics and English as a Second Language (M.Ed.), is scheduled to begin enrolling students in the summer of 2008. All three of the established master's programs have regular structures and well-established requirements that organize their work and the award of degrees. See Standard 2.D., 2.E. and 2.F.
The college offers two degree programs at the undergraduate level – the bachelor of arts degree and the bachelor of science degree. The bachelor of arts degree requires the successful completion of 180 quarter-hours of college level work. The bachelor of science degree requires 180 quarter-hours of work, including credits in mathematics, natural science, or computer science, of which 48 of which must be upper division science credit. The college has worked to identify upper division science work and faculty who have appropriate credentials to award such credit over the past several years. A combined bachelor of arts/bachelor of science degree requires at least 225 quarter-hours credit, 90 of which must be earned at Evergreen (see http://www.evergreen.edu/catalog/2008-09/).
2.A.4 Degree Requirements
The institution uses degree designators consistent with program content. In each field of study or technical program, degree objectives are clearly defined: the content to be covered, the intellectual skills, the creative capabilities, and the methods of inquiry to be acquired; and, if applicable, the specific career-preparation competencies to be mastered.
The institution offers two undergraduate degrees, the bachelor of arts and the bachelor of science as described above. Each degree program requires 180 quarter-hours of credit. As shown above, the Six Expectations ask students to develop a focus for their work using the college’s offerings and independent work developed with faculty to complete their program of study. The bachelor of science requires a minimum of 72 quarter-hours in natural science, mathematics, or computer science, including at least 48 upper division quarter-hours awarded by faculty in the sciences. Each master's program has program-specific outcomes for the degrees offered as described in sub-section 2.D.
2.A.5 Intensive programs
The institution provides evidence that students enrolled in programs offered in concentrated or abbreviated timeframes demonstrate mastery of program goals and course objectives.
Over the past ten years, Evergreen has moved to offer weekend intensive programs at both the graduate and undergraduate level. This schedule has increased the accessibility of our programs to place-bound students. Programs offered on either the regular or intensive schedule expect approximately 30 hours of study and class attendance for each unit of credit earned.
2.A.6 Program Tuition
The institution is able to equate its learning experiences with semester or quarter credit hours using practices common to institutions of higher education, to justify the lengths of its programs in comparison to similar programs found in regionally accredited institutions of higher education, and to justify any program-specific tuition in terms of program costs, program length, and program objectives.
Evergreen expects contact hours with students and the quarter-long length of its programs to be similar to those expected at other Washington public universities. Evergreen tuition is based on level (bachelor's or master's), residency, and the number of credits. There is no special program-specific tuition.
2.A.7 Curriculum Planning
Responsibility for design, approval, and implementation of the curriculum is vested in designated institutional bodies with clearly established channels of communication and control. The faculty has a major role and responsibility in the design, integrity, and implementation of the curriculum.
The curriculum at Evergreen is planned by the faculty, the academic deans, and the directors of off-site programs. The undergraduate curriculum at Evergreen is a complex mixture of regularly repeating offerings, irregularly repeating offerings, and one-time efforts. The curriculum is revised annually. Each planning unit (see glossary) is responsible for defining and staffing its offerings and is expected to contribute 20% of its faculty time to Core (first-year) programs and another 20% to inter-area (teams involving faculty from two or more planning units) work. Planning in any given year is designed to develop a catalog for two years hence. Thus in the 2008-09 school year, faculty will be designing the curriculum for the 2010-11 school year. The curriculum dean(s) in collaboration with the Planning Unit Coordinators (PUCs) organize a series of all-faculty meetings in early fall quarter that are designed to solicit ideas, proposals, and suggestions for inter-area work at the first year and above level.
Usually planning units meet at the fall faculty retreat and in the latter half of the quarter to identify their ongoing staffing needs and identify planning unit members interested in working in inter-area and Core. These meetings involve looking at the curriculum of the unit over a four-year period: the year being planned, the current year, the next year, and usually considering the year following the year being planned for. This iterative retrospective-prospective overview helps identify the needs for prerequisites; identify the appropriate cycle year for regularly, but not annually, repeating programs; identify questions of balance in subject matter; and clarify individual contributions to the units’ work. Most of the ongoing repeated work and advanced disciplinary work at the college is organized by planning units.
Core and inter-divisional planning, which began early in the fall with the meeting to share ideas, continues more or less informally as faculty follow up ideas with each other and attend meetings called by either the Core dean or the curriculum dean to firm up and identify programs. In addition to the intricate matchmaking that occurs within program teams, the PUCs and curriculum deans are involved in a complex process of informal negotiation and planning to ensure the appropriate number of first-year seats (those in Core and then those seats identified for freshmen in all-level or lower-division programs) and appropriate coverage of planning unit repeated offerings. All of these decisions are made in negotiations among faculty and deans and are vetted to the planning unit meetings in winter quarter so that faculty can evaluate and respond to the area’s curriculum and its relation to other Core and inter-area offerings. This complex two-tracked process within and between the planning units culminates in a draft curriculum by the end of winter quarter. The final negotiations between planning units and the deans, the creation of catalog copy for programs, and the identification of staffing needs is carried out by PUCs who are given release time spring quarter to complete these duties. One important byproduct of the curriculum planning process is the awareness of areas of demand in the curriculum and supplementary short-term and long-term hiring needs.
Unlike the full-time curriculum, the Evening and Weekend Studies (EWS) curriculum is planned on a one-year cycle. This structure allows the curriculum to adapt more quickly to shifts in the student body and is an aspect of the service orientation of the EWS area. The EWS dean and the continuing faculty in the area jointly control planning for the area.
Planning in the graduate programs is controlled by their respective faculty and is described in 2.D.
2.A.8 Library and Information Resources
Faculty, in partnership with library and information resources personnel, ensure that the use of library and information resources is integrated into the learning process.
The tension between the demands of discipline-based curriculum where programs are created to meet known (or presumed) needs with known prerequisites and outcomes on the one hand, and the demands of freely chosen inquiry based on broad skills of knowing, reasoning, and communicating about issues whose outcome remain to be discovered through experience on the other, is the context within which the curriculum comes into being at Evergreen. The college puts a premium on student research work in both independent learning contracts, and group and individual research projects within programs. Library and information services at Evergreen have from the very beginning had to adapt themselves to the complex ever changing focus of the programs and faculty. This has meant that these services have had to be very broad and carefully coordinated with emerging curricular needs. Standard 5.B.2. details the complex intersection of library and information resource instruction at the college.
2.A.9 Structural Elements of the Evergreen Curriculum
The institution’s curriculum (programs and courses) is planned both for optimal learning and accessible scheduling.
The curriculum at Evergreen is designed by the faculty to further students’ ability to develop and meet the goals of an Evergreen education. The practices and structures that make up the educational experience embody both complex substantive learning and the capacities identified in the five foci. Four critical elements underlie the structure of the curriculum at Evergreen: team-taught coordinated study, full-time study, student self-direction, and narrative evaluation. These elements are universally present and they most clearly and distinctively embody the practices and goals of the Evergreen educational experience. These elements are designed to optimize a student’s capacity to understand and integrate material, develop complex insight, and create schedules that facilitate program level work and interaction.
Programs are the distinctive mode of study at the college. A program consists of two to four (in the deep past as many as seven) faculty who together plan and deliver, generally full-time, a course of study organized around a theme or body of knowledge to 50 to 100 students. The terminology about programs has changed over this period – at the beginning programs were referred to as coordinated studies. Programs can be as short as one quarter or as long as three. These programs are often centered on a specific theme or set of questions that invite exploration from two or more disciplinary points of view, or they may be linked conceptually around method or subject matter in a way that promotes more complex understanding of disciplines by being taught in a collaborative fashion. In addition to coordinated study programs, Evergreen offers single faculty programs that provide full-time study of advanced topics.
Programs as Academic Communities
By providing a structure which links ideas, questions, and disciplinary understandings together with a specific ongoing group of faculty and students, coordinated study lays the groundwork for the formation of an academic community. By having the full attention of students and extraordinary freedom to design programs, faculty members are empowered to create very different, often innovative, usually exciting, learning experiences. Programs can, and often do, require major field trips, built in research times, intensive laboratory work, opportunities for travel, productions, exhibitions, and a wide variety of smaller scale curricular innovations. Ideally, faculty members help shape a multi-dimensional, multi-leveled conversation that helps students form and shape their own work and builds a knowledgeable audience for their writing and research. Within a coordinated study, students and faculty can develop strong friendships, working relationships, and intense conversations that draw heavily on the shared experiences of the texts and activities of the program. Coordinated study as a concept has been usefully adapted to a wide variety of time frames, persons, and levels of work. Today it is found in some form or another in graduate programs, off-campus programs, and throughout both the full-time and part-time undergraduate curriculum.
Coordinated studies, their part-time counterparts, and single faculty full-time programs are organized into the curriculum of the graduate programs (MPA, MIT, and MES), the Tacoma Program, and the Reservation-Based Program, as well as into the undergraduate program on the Olympia campus. On the Olympia campus the array of offerings is organized and coordinated through five planning units (Culture, Text and Language; Environmental Studies; Expressive Arts; Scientific Inquiry; and Society, Politics, Behavior, and Change) and the Native American and World Indigenous Peoples Center. These areas will be discussed fully below.
Most student work at Evergreen is carried out in one form or another of full-time study. The pedagogical rationale here arises out of the coordinated study programs, especially those with a thematic base. These complex, multi-stranded, highly integrated programs make little or no sense when significant elements are removed. Similar intensive full-time work is often expected in single faculty full-time programs. This feature of the college provides the intellectual intensity described above, but also provides the flexibility of scheduling that allows the college to offer genuinely innovative work in a number of fields where large blocks of time and travel are required. Beyond this, the reality that most faculty, in most programs, have control of most of their students’ time in class, and meet with those students generally fourteen to twenty hours per week, means that they know their students' needs, capacities, and desires well. This knowledge allows for strong guidance and modification of program tasks, allows complex reflective evaluations of students, and lays the groundwork for effective advising. The college has allowed significantly more part-time work in recent years in Evening and Weekend Studies. The part-time study is structured both through half-time coordinated studies and course work.
Student Self-Directed Study
While the structure of the college’s curriculum provides a series of pathways that students may follow in pursuing their education, there are no requirements for graduation beyond the accumulation of 180 quarter-hours credit. Many of the pathways will be described in the discussion of planning units below. This open invitation to students to design their own work at the college has been a central feature of student experience from the beginning of the college. Our assumption is that working with multiple faculty and being exposed to a variety of disciplines, questions, and practices helps each student to develop a clear pattern of interests and can, with faculty and advising help, help them build an exciting, demanding, and persuasive educational path. Choices are not entirely unconstrained. Prerequisites, finding an appropriate faculty member for an individual study or internship, and the nature of the programs offered by the faculty in a particular year, limit a student’s choices, but underlying all this is the understanding that students can use the opportunities presented to identify and pursue their own work. Clearly the decision of the college to put students in charge of the choices to create their education is a radical one. Indeed of all the founding “Nos” the most radical in many ways is the relinquishment of the faculty’s authority to determine for students what is important for the student to study. Students who take this challenge seriously create an education that necessarily implicates themselves as persons, not simply as products of an educational system or consumers of educational prescriptions. Individual contracts and internships are an important manifestation of student autonomy.
Evergreen’s origins as an innovative “experimental” college, the rejection of tenure and the substitution of three-year renewable contracts, and a flat administrative structure imbued the college with a “culture of evaluation” at the institutional level. The decision to reject standardized grading provided an impetus for careful work on evaluation of student achievement by both faculty and students. Narrative evaluation of student work assumes that to create a community in which cooperation is central, evaluation must be individual, not comparative. Attempting to place each student on one scale when each student is pursuing the work of the program for different ends with different backgrounds and capacities makes little sense.
Evaluation takes many forms at Evergreen, but at the heart of the educational process is the faculty evaluation of students. This document reflects the faculty’s authority to grant or withhold credit, and to identify the transferable content of the work. More importantly, it attempts to identify the strengths and capabilities of the student and to locate his or her most important work within the context of the program’s themes, content and experience.
Student narratives offer a critical response to the educational experience and often provide the rationale that links one educational experience to the next. The capacity for students to provide their accounts in the transcript evaluation speaks to the college’s commitment to taking students and their account of their experience seriously. For further reflection on the narrative evaluation process, please see the Narrative Evaluation Guide 2004.
Learning and Planning Through Evaluation
Formal evaluations, the ones that appear in the transcripts, are important, but their significance is primarily documentary and retrospective. Informal evaluations, the ones that occur within programs, have the quality of being retrospective and reflective on the one hand and prospective on the other. They situate the student and the experience in midstream and ask for and elicit an assessment, adjustment, and reframing. Student self-evaluations review their work and introduce their in-program portfolio. In individual conferences, a faculty member asks students to connect their experience in the program with their work, and to think about how they can come to own this experience as their own education. The conference provides an opportunity for assessment from the student's and faculty member’s perspective. This process of reflecting examines not only the direct content of the program, but often the experience of learning. Students are asked how they have changed as learners; how such basic acts as reading, knowing, and writing have changed for them through experience. This reflexive evaluation practice, seeing one's learning and competency develop, opens up questions and helps students see a path within the program and, at the end of the program, provides a key to where to go next.
Much of the evaluation process focuses on advising. Informal evaluations by both faculty and students focus on the students' learning, opportunities for improvement, and possible future directions. The preparation for this review by both students and faculty is a major opportunity to reflect on future directions and to develop a reflective critical assessment of the work of the student and the program.
Three major initiatives in the past ten years have considered transcript evaluations. All of these start from the premise that a complete and well written transcript is an asset to students as they proceed from Evergreen and from a resistance to the idea of reducing evaluation to grades or rating forms. They reflect the need to create more concise and well-voiced evaluations in a timely and coherent manner. Two major committees, the first in 1996-1997 and the second in 2003-2004, produced a set of arguments for the continuing utility of the evaluation process and support for the idea that there was no single universal process for evaluation. The latter DTF developed an important document on faculty narrative strategies and provided guidelines on the length and nature of the evaluation process. A second study group (Evaluation Processing) in 2002-2004 focused on procedures for the reorganization of the handling of evaluations and their storage and maintenance as electronic documents. This process has sped the production of transcript evaluations. The formal faculty evaluation documents contain a program description identifying the work of the program, a formal assessment of the student’s work, and the identification of the program’s activities as subject equivalencies.
2.A.10 Prior Learning from Experience
Credit for prior experiential learning is awarded only in accordance with Policy 2.3 Credit for Prior Experiential Learning
Prior Learning from Experience
The Prior Learning from Experience (PLE) Program faculty assesses the student's past academic experience and past life experience before recommending Evergreen's PLE program. The full-time staff position was cut from the budget in spring of 2003 when the program was reorganized into the Evening and Weekend Studies curriculum. The coordinator from the previous staff position moved into the adjunct faculty position. The adjunct faculty forms teams of full-time continuing faculty to assess the PLE documents. A central tenet of Evergreen's PLE program is that credit is granted for learning and not for experience. Students must document that learning by drawing on current theories in particular academic fields. They accomplish this by interviewing appropriate faculty about their documents and by completing necessary research. Because faculty members grant credit for PLE documents, they grant credit only for learning that would normally occur within regular curricular offerings.
The documentation currently required for credit through PLE at Evergreen is rigorous. Most interested students, beginning in fall of 2003, take "Writing from Life," a course taught by the adjunct faculty. Course requirements include writing an autobiography, their PLE document outline, and one learning essay or chapter of their PLE document. Students then move into PLE document writing (taught by the same adjunct faculty) the following quarter and take that course for four, six, or eight credits until they have earned sixteen credits. At that time their essay writing is finished and they are ready for a faculty review. All students include a resume, an autobiography, a narrative description of their learning, and appendices documenting that learning, such as reports or guidelines the student developed. Faculty reviewing the PLE process found the documentation to be generally more demanding than other undergraduate credit they awarded.
Evergreen awards up to a maximum of forty-five PLE credits, but sixteen of those forty-five are earned in PLE document writing. They can be awarded additional credit above sixteen to achieve the full forty-five, but most are awarded less than that. Credit awards are based on documentation and students are not assured of receiving the credit that they may request at any time in this process. Credit is identified as PLE via the narrative evaluation of the student's work.
The Prior Learning adjunct faculty ensures that requested credit does not duplicate credit already on the student's transcript. After the faculty team awards credit, the student receives a formal evaluation, is billed for the credit awarded, and the credit is entered on his transcript (see PLE Homepage).
2.A.11/12 Program additions or deletions
Policies, regulations, and procedures for additions and deletions of courses or programs are systematically and periodically reviewed.
Evergreen has added relatively few new degree programs during the past five years and has not deleted any programs. The new programs include:
- A new concentration track in Tribal Governance and Administration within the existing Master of Public Administration (MPA) program.
- The Extended Education program.
- A new pathway for students seeking to earn a dual Master of Public Administration and Master of Environmental Studies degree.
- One additional site for the Tribal Reservation-based/Community-determined Program (RBCD).
- The Master of Education (M.Ed.) program.
New academic programs are vetted through the deans, planning unit coordinators, Faculty Agenda Committee, and ultimately the faculty. If approved, the provost requests board of trustee approval.
The new Tribal MPA concentration and Extended Education were approved in this manner. The additional RBP site consisted of an expansion of an already approved academic program and was approved by the board of trustees.
The M.Ed. had been included in the Enrollment Growth DTF Final Report 2005 as one of three graduate programs that ought to be studied further for feasibility of implementation. Normally, approval of the M.Ed. program would have been vetted through the channels described above culminating in a faculty meeting discussion and vote. Given the unusual circumstances in which the college received funding for the M.Ed. program, this process was transposed. Essentially, the governor’s office informed Evergreen during winter break that they intended to include additional high demand enrollment growth funds for Evergreen in the state budget (funds that Evergreen did not include in its biennial budget request). This forced Evergreen’s academic administration to determine, within a very brief window of time, that the M.Ed. program was the most feasible to implement in the subsequent 07-09 biennium. This decision was immediately taken to the first faculty meeting in winter quarter for discussion. The faculty was justifiably upset that the normal a priori faculty vetting and approval process occurred after the fact, but did not actively oppose the decision to accept the funds and to initiate the new M.Ed. program. This incident illustrates the tension between the pace of internal processes and external demands on the institution and faculty governance processes.
Standard 2.B – Educational Program Planning and Assessment
Educational program planning is based on regular and continuous assessment of programs in light of the needs of the disciplines, the fields or occupations for which programs prepare students, and other constituencies of the institution.
Evergreen has a multi-leveled, multi-faceted, and reflective culture of planning and assessment. Ongoing assessment and planning activities are regular and continuous, and each year, specific issues that arise from the ongoing processes are identified for in-depth investigation. Assessment takes place at the level of each curricular offering, at the planning unit level and during the ongoing annual processes of curriculum design, at the level of institutional research and assessment, in governance activities and work groups tasked with investigating specific issues and problems, and by individuals who want to look deeply into particular areas of interest.
2.B.1 Curriculum Assessment and Planning
The institution's processes for assessing its educational programs are clearly defined, encompass all of its offerings, are conducted on a regular basis, and are integrated into the overall planning and evaluation plan. These processes are consistent with the institution's assessment plan as required by Policy 2.2 Educational Assessment. While key constituents are involved in the process, the faculty have a central role in planning and evaluating the educational programs.
At the level of individual curricular offerings, faculty design their programs and courses to challenge students and provide opportunities to demonstrate their learning in myriad ways such as through writing, student research, performance, testing, lab work, community-based projects, seminar, creative work, and collaborative work. Each program, course, individual contract, and internship closes with the faculty writing an evaluation of each student's work and each student writing a self-evaluation of their own work and an evaluation of the faculty. Faculty write self-evaluations of their work for their own portfolios that are integrated into faculty peer review processes. The self-evaluation and peer evaluation processes encourage deep learning and personal responsibility and provide directions for improvement and growth. (Student and faculty evaluation processes are addressed more thoroughly in Standards 2.A.9 and 4.A.5.)
The curriculum at Evergreen is planned by the faculty, the academic deans, and the directors of the graduate and off-site programs. Planning units meet regularly throughout the year to discuss current issues, faculty initiatives, and future curriculum planning and staffing needs. Each planning unit has one or more faculty designated as planning unit coordinators (PUCs). The PUCs also meet regularly during the year with the curriculum deans, which serves as a space for intentional dialogue across planning units. Each summer, the dean of faculty hiring and development offers a series of planning institutes in which faculty teaching teams convene to plan the specifics of their upcoming programs, share practices, and explore mission-critical questions. The dean of first-year programs offers a special colloquium for faculty teams who will be teaching first-year programs each June. The PUCs and the academic deans each hold a summer retreat where they assess the previous year and plan for the coming year. Two faculty curriculum planning retreats are held in fall and spring where faculty get to know one another, share current scholarly interests, identify future teaching partners, and discuss pressing issues. All of these curriculum planning activities draw upon experiential data, the evolving interests of faculty and students, institutional strategic directions, data from Institutional Research and Assessment, ongoing planning unit dialogues, and the research and recommendations of work groups and disappearing task forces. (Curricular planning details can be found in Standard 2.A.7; the organizational structure and functions of planning units are elaborated in the introduction to Standard 2.C; planning institutes and faculty development are also addressed in Standard 4.A.2.)
Role of Institutional Research and Assessment
The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment supports the assessment and planning of educational programs through a series of regular surveys and administrative data analyses. In addition, the office convenes assessment workshops, provides existing data and collects specialized data for college work groups and task forces, responds to state-level accountability requirements, coordinates inter-institutional data-sharing and assessment activities, and supports faculty-initiated research about teaching and learning. Institutional Research and Assessment continuously refines its data collection strategies and reporting techniques to improve the usefulness of collected data for assessment and planning purposes. All of the data collection practices present in the 1998 accreditation self-study have been refined to some extent over the past decade. The overall effect of the changes in practice is that the results represent a wider range of students, research approaches and presentations are better aligned to evolving needs and goals of the college and external reporting requirements, and engagement in the results by stakeholders has improved.
New Student Survey
Evergreen administered the Cooperative Institutional Research Project (CIRP) freshmen survey for the last time in 2001. Students found many of the survey questions to be offensive and excessively personal. The incentive of paying each participant to complete the survey had become less effective with the response rate dropping from 38% in 1999 to only 19% in 2001. Furthermore, Institutional Research staff concurred with the recommendation of the Commission in 1998 that assessment processes should include transfer students given that they make up an even greater proportion of the incoming class than freshmen do. The CIRP excluded this important part of Evergreen's student body (see CIRP 2001 Report).
The Institutional Research staff developed the Evergreen New Student Survey in collaboration with staff, faculty, and students. The entering class of 2003 were the first participants. The collaborative design resulted in a survey reflecting the concerns and understandings of Evergreen respondents and audiences. Subsequent revisions have been made based on feedback from faculty, staff, and students who have used the results. New first-years and transfer students are surveyed every two years, which allows time to analyze and share results. The survey has a strong response rate. In 2005, 57% of all new transfer students and 69% of all new first-years participated in the survey. Survey results have been distributed widely and many audiences have engaged in dialogue and consideration of the results. The questions collect information about the goals, expectations, confidence, demographics, intended fields of study, and college selection process specific to Evergreen. The ability to ask Evergreen-specific questions, control question refinement, achieve improved response rates, and include previously omitted transfer populations – including new Tacoma and Tribal: Reservation-based students – has been worth the trade-off of losing the national comparison which the CIRP provided (see New Student Survey Questions 2005).
In 2004, Evergreen participated in the pilot of the national Beginning College Student Survey (BCSS) (see BCSS 2004 Evergreen Frequencies). Response rates were very low, which did not allow for strong comparison potential with its partner survey, the National Survey of Student Engagement. Given the strong response rates of the locally developed Evergreen New Student Survey and the stronger buy-in of college stakeholders, the college has not chosen to participate again in the BCSS.
Student Experience Surveys
A second survey, the Evergreen Student Experience Survey, was developed as a companion survey to the Evergreen New Student Survey. The Evergreen Experience Survey is administered every other spring to collect feedback from students about their learning growth, fields of study, satisfaction with experiences, use of campus resources, and other variables of interest to particular committees and interest groups at Evergreen. The survey is administered to a random sample of undergraduates, stratified by class standing, and to a targeted oversample that includes all remaining respondents to the New Student Survey and all Tribal: Reservation-based program students. Students are assigned a common sample identification number to allow for longitudinal analysis of the relationship between incoming goals and characteristics from the New Student Survey and subsequent experiences collected through the Evergreen Experience Survey and Alumni Surveys (see Evergreen Student Experience Survey 2006 Methodology). Over the three administrations of the survey, questions have been added to the survey to respond to the needs of newer work groups, such as the Sustainability Task Force and Curricular Visions Disappearing Task Force.
Evergreen has participated annually in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) since 2000. This survey collects a set of data from first-year students and seniors related to student engagement and satisfaction with learning growth. For a national survey, it has a surprising relevance, in that many of the teaching and learning experiences addressed by the survey are common, mission-related practices at Evergreen. In addition, NSSE provides the opportunity to understand our students' feedback relative to three comparison groups each year. This context is especially important, since our local new student, student experience, and alumni surveys do not provide external reference. NSSE data are used for accountability measures with the Higher Education Coordinating Board and as supplemental indicators of learning for our general education assessment; both of these purposes make the external comparisons especially useful (see NSSE Trends, Highlights, and Accountability Performance Indicators 2001-2007).
Evergreen had been locally administering the learning growth index of the College Student Experience Questionnaire (CSEQ) on an annual basis and using selected results for an earlier iteration of Washington performance accountability. Evergreen administered that survey for a final time in 2003 (see CSEQ 2003 Learning Index). By that time, the college had sufficient experience with NSSE to understand its effectiveness in engaging college stakeholders in the assessment, and the Office of Institutional Research implemented the Evergreen Student Experience Survey in spring 2004.
In spring 2005, all Evergreen faculty who taught undergraduates during academic year 2004-05 were asked to participate in the NSSE’s companion survey, the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE). The results of the student NSSE survey and the faculty FSSE provided the opportunity to explore the relationship between faculty and student perceptions of Evergreen. Faculty self-identified on the survey as to whether they primarily taught lower-division, upper-division, or "other" students. The most useful analysis of Evergreen's results was a comparison of the twenty-one lower-division faculty members to the results for first-year students (see Evergreen Faculty and Student Responses to Surveys of Student Engagement - Lower-division Comparison 2005).
The regular series of Evergreen undergraduate alumni surveys are the least changed since the last ten-year self-study. Washington State's Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) no longer requires its public baccalaureate institutions to conduct biannual alumni surveys, but external incentives are not necessary to recognize the importance to the college of seeking alumni feedback. Institutional Research and Assessment continues to administer the following:
- Biannual Alumni Surveys, one-year after graduation (see Alumni Survey 2004)
- Greeners at Work, every four years which surveys alumni three years after graduation and their current employers (see Greeners at Work 2003 - Alumni and Employers Three Years After Graduation)
- Five-year and Ten-year Alumni Survey, once per accreditation cycle (see Five-Year Alumni Survey - Advanced Education, Employment, Volunteerism, and Reflections on an Evergreen Education)
Alumni surveys are now administered via the Web with paper survey follow-up for non-respondents. Response rates with these methods continue to be about 30% of the locatable members of the graduating class, despite discontinuing the telephone completion option. The list of self-reported learning outcomes has been updated and aligned with the Expectations of an Evergreen Graduate and Evergreen's other longitudinal surveys. Employment data collection has been refined to allow for the complexity of alumni employment activities and to allow categorization and comparison in terms of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification codes. Since 2002, the survey is requested from the entire graduating class and is no longer limited to graduates of the Olympia campus. Volunteer activities of alumni are now captured by the survey. Graduate school acceptance, as opposed to simply attendance, is collected and is a new legislatively mandated performance measure. Results are disaggregated by the alumni-reported primary planning unit of their studies at Evergreen and for off-campus sites as possible given staffing and sample size constraints. An unfortunate side-effect of the removal of alumni surveys from the HECB accountability agenda is that the "14 common items" that were previously shared by our public baccalaureate peers are no longer collected and shared between institutions. Each institution exercised the freedom to update the series of alumni learning growth items to better align with their own educational objectives. Thus, each institution has more mission-specific learning outcome data from alumni, but they lost a peer context through which to explore their results.
General Education Assessment
New techniques were developed by the Assessment Study Group in academic year 2001-02 to assess the implementation of the new general education initiatives. The End-of-Program Review instrument collects information from all programs as to whether they included work in art, humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, quantitative reasoning, writing, critical thinking, and information technology literacy. Advising practices were collected during the first few years. Based on the evolving emphases of the Evergreen community, several new data collection elements have been added to include oppression, privilege, and difference; opportunities for advanced work; community-based learning/service learning; and most recently sustainability. Results of the annual End-of-Program Review are presented in Standard 2.C.3 as evidence of the teaching of general education.
A team of faculty, staff, and a student developed a rubric based on the Six Expectations of an Evergreen Graduate that was used in summers of 2002 and 2005 to assess a random sample of transcripts of graduates. A credit equivalency analysis was also conducted on the set of transcripts. The transcript review is the primary method of assessing learning outcomes related to general education at Evergreen. The review will take place every four years to allow changes in practice and curriculum to be evidenced in the transcripts. A set of indicators of learning in terms of the Expectations were identified from surveys of students and alumni to supplement the information obtained from the transcript review activities. Learning outcomes are detailed in Standard 2.B.2.
Administrative Data Analysis
Administrative data analysis is an integral aspect of the overall assessment strategy. Annual analyses of the curriculum; student retention and graduation rates; and demographics of students, faculty, and staff are shared through the Web site, targeted presentations, and with various external audiences. Institutional Research has been a key participant in providing data for the college's development of new dashboard indicator metrics for senior staff and the governing board (see Dashboard Indicators). Periodic in-depth analysis of faculty-student load is also undertaken. These regular processes are continually expanded to include new programs and areas of interest. Most recently, new processes have been developed to track data about the Extended Education program, revised demographic definitions for low-income and first-generation students, and specific analyses for each of the graduate programs. Survey results are often linked to administrative variables in order to explore potential differences in student and alumni experiences. In-depth analysis is also conducted to understand the impact of new initiatives and major changes in policy e.g. raising the credit limit or implementing a new graduate degree pathway.
External Data Resources
External data resources have been incorporated into research and analysis approaches. The National Student Clearinghouse is used annually to explore the enrollment of prospective students who were offered admission to Evergreen but chose not to attend. These data help identify institutions with applicant overlap for different student market groups. This resource has also been used to explore the subsequent enrollment of former Evergreen students, such as non-retained students and alumni. The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) peer analysis database, the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) annual data-sharing process (see COPLAC Data Profile AY05-06), and annual participation in the Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange (see First-time, First-year Cohort Graduation Rates) provide sources to explore Evergreen’s demographics and performance indicators. These sources are used to set accountability targets, research potential peer groups, and benchmark Evergreen performance. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and Law School Admission (LSAT) scores of Evergreen alumni were obtained in response to prospective student inquiries (see GRE Results 2002-2006 and LSAT Scores 2001-2006).
Institutional Research and Assessment also participates in a variety of ongoing state-level research, assessment, and accountability initiatives. Some activities are ongoing regular work such as the accountability process coordinated by the Higher Education Coordinating Board, serving on the Public Centralized Higher Education Enrollment Statistics (PCHEES) Steering Committee, Statewide Institutional Research Directors, Statewide Assessment Coordinators, and workgroups associated with the new legislatively mandated Education Research Data Center. As a public baccalaureate institution, Evergreen also participates in other special statewide projects, such as the Statewide Transfer Study, Writing Assessment Project, Graduate Follow-up Study, Transitions Math Project, Workforce Board Alumni Wage Match, and other periodic research. Staff participate annually in the Pacific Northwest Teaching and Learning Conference to share Evergreen assessment results, build relationships with other professionals, and learn about emerging practices. State-level research activities support practice sharing and strategic thinking across institutions and educational sectors.
Each year as new committees and task forces are charged by college administrators, Institutional Research and Assessment connects relevant data to the workgroups. Excerpts are drawn from the rich collection of existing data generated through regular institutional assessment activities and often conducting or supporting additional specialized research in support of the work. Recent examples of workgroups that used Institutional Research data in their work include the Diversity task force, First-year Experience task force, Beginning the Journey, Sustainability work group, Campus Spaces Assessment, Enrollment Growth task force, and Curricular Visions DTF. (For example, see Curricular Visions Data Exhibits). In addition, the office provides grant-related research for National Science Foundation scholarship grants, TRIO Student Support Services, and the Lumina Foundation grant supporting new Tribal Program activities. As staff time and resources allow, the office supports other specialized queries and research initiated by deans, faculty, staff, and students.
Evergreen’s institutional researchers also participate in other occasional national educational quality improvement projects, including Symposia on Diversity in the Sciences, Documenting Effective Educational Practices, Campus Compact community-based learning/service learning coalition, and Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning (CIEL).
Planning Unit Self-Assessments
The following sections serve as a demonstration of how data are integrated in planning and program assessment. Each planning unit provides a self-assessment of its primary themes and educational objectives and integrates evidence from faculty experience, planning unit dialogues, curriculum analyses, and surveys of alumni and students to explore how well they are acheiving their goals.
Culture, Text, and Language
Theme and Mission
The Culture, Text, and Language planning unit organizes itself around the study of culture as webs of meaning that individuals and groups create to make sense of their experience in the world, around a diverse range of texts as embodiments of these meanings, and around languages both as means of communication and as carriers of transformative potential. The faculty and students design work together to create living links between their past and their present, in order to become, in the words of Charles McCann, Evergreen’s first president, “undogmatic citizens and uncomplacently confident individuals in a changing world.”
The area provides four direct and distinctive contributions to the college. It directly supports student engagement with the five foci and the achievement of the six expectations through the provision of skills and capacities for critical thinking, reading, writing, and interpretation. It offers students an opportunity to do focused work in humanities and interpretive social science. It provides strong support for general education through its support for Core and all-level programs. And it provides an orientation to a global worldview through its language and culture programs and its attention to larger questions of ethics and action. The planning unit organizes nearly all of the advanced humanities, and much of the interpretive social sciences at Evergreen.
Faculty and Programs
Faculty in the area cover a wide range of humanities and interpretive social science disciplines including: literature, history, women’s studies, philosophy, religion, classics, art history, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, politics, folklore, creative writing, French, Spanish, Russian, and Japanese.
Typically the faculty offer several interdisciplinary, theme-based programs, inclusive inter-area programs offered in teams with a diverse range of faculty from other planning units. Themes in these programs explore the social origins and meanings of a broad array of questions in the arts, social sciences, and environmental studies. CTL offers a curriculum based in diverse cultures and languages so that students have opportunity to learn about shared legacies and significant differences across issues of race, class, sexuality, and gender. The area offers interdisciplinary studies dealing with these issues in the context of community and historical studies that include service work or research that draws upon interpretive social science. The planning unit also provides opportunity for studies in philosophy, European history, British and American literature, and other literature in translation. Many of the programs are area studies understood as the interdisciplinary study of topics framed by geography, language, culture, and history. These programs usually provide opportunity for study abroad, and a complex combination of language and culture studies. The planning unit is committed to offering regular language and culture programs in American studies, French language and the Francophone world, Japan, Middle East studies, Russian language and Eastern Europe, Spanish and the Hispanic world.
Language-based programs are available to students in their sophomore year and typically offer both introductory and advanced language study. CTL as a whole does not have a single repeating introductory offering, but builds introductory work in library and qualitative field research, critical thinking, essay writing, and issues of complex and layered reading into all-level programs which admit freshman through senior students, and sophomore-level programs that emphasize similar skills. Sophomore entry and all-level programs in the area support the development of distinct skills in such areas as languages, historical method, and literary interpretation. They also provide broad support for and help students see the importance of interpretation and the creation of cultural meaning as a social process. Creative expression of complex social and personal experience and effective communication of these experiences is fostered in most programs. All CTL programs report an emphasis on critical thinking and 93% report a major emphasis. Critical thinking in CTL focuses particularly around issues of analysis of texts and synthesis of ideas, as well as critiques and argument and diverse perspectives (EPR 2006-07 - Critical Thinking by Planning Unit). All of these capacities directly support meeting the Six Expectations of an Evergreen Graduate.
While the exact percentages vary from year to year, CTL faculty members are consistently among the most committed to inter-area teaching both in Core and in inter-area programs. During the review period, CTL provided nearly 40% or more of its faculty to teaching in either Core or inter-area programs (Curricular Visions_Selected Trends_97to07_update). The widespread involvement of area faculty in inter-area and Core programs helps to support general education expectations of exposure and engagement of students across the curriculum with issues of writing, interpretation, and expression.
Pathways in CTL exist primarily within those sections of the curriculum dealing with language and culture. The existence of introductory language classes in the Evening and Weekend Studies program, the use of area studies programs especially in French and Spanish, and the provision of some support for advanced work through one-faculty programs and contract work constitute a pathway that has been effective for many students. The difficulty of providing more than two years of language training has been a serious issue for the development of language and culture pathways.
Other areas in the curriculum are less systematically organized, but there is the capacity to do both work that supplements and broadens original entry-level work, and opportunities to do more advanced work in small one-person programs. Often groups of students who have formed particular attachments to subject matter and each other form a cohort of students in a series of programs leading to advanced work. Individual students can and often do find advanced contract work, either individual work or small student originated study groups engaged in contracts with a single faculty member.
Student Response to the Curriculum
Over the past five years CTL has carried an average of 400 FTE per year in programs within the planning unit and has contributed an average 305 additional FTE in Core and inter-area programs (Curricular Visions_Selected Trends_97to07_update). The area has typically been among the most consistent contributors of faculty to Core and inter-area programs and has in recent years been a location of a great number of all-level programs. In some measure these tendencies reflect the propensity of the area to take on broad issues and develop thematic programs that pull into conversation a variety of disciplines, rather than attention to what at most schools would be seen as survey courses. Further the relative lack of curricular hierarchy within the area and the willingness of faculty to work with younger students to include them in the conversation has allowed for an expansion of all-level programs in the area.
Clearly humanities teaching occurs widely across the curriculum and is not restricted exclusively to the programs of CTL. The EPR data for 2001-02 to 2005-06 show that between 81% and 86% of all programs included elements of humanities and that a significant majority of those programs (55-67%) had a major substantive interest in the humanities. Major elements of humanities are embedded in CTL, Expressive Arts (EA), Evening/Weekend, inter-area, and often Core programs. More minor elements of humanities show up in Scientific Inquiry (SI), Environmental Studies (ES), and Society, Politics, Behavior, and Change (SPBC) where humanities content was much more often illustrative of issues rather than the subject of direct inquiry. To further confuse issues, the fact that there are both humanities faculty and social science faculty within the area means that often programs within CTL may not necessarily be humanities programs.
Alumni Survey Data
A critical mode of assessing the work of the area is satisfaction of area graduates with their experience. All data in this discussion are drawn from the 2006 Alumni Survey of the class of 2004-05 – the latest set of data on alumni satisfaction. Alumni are self-identified as having done their primary work in CTL (Alumni Survey 2006: Culture, Text, and Language). Overall, students report very high rates of satisfaction with Evergreen’s contribution to their academic and personal growth. In twenty-one of twenty-four aspects of their Evergreen work, more than 80% of CTL alumni were somewhat to very satisfied with their experience. Students were most satisfied with their capacity to work independently, followed by participation in class discussions, understanding different philosophies and cultures, knowledge of a broad range of subjects, capacity for critical analysis, and working cooperatively in groups. For 15 of 24 categories, mean satisfaction was four or better on a five-point scale. Students gave low marks for their perceived readiness for a career and for their capacity to use mathematical and scientific principles.
When alumni were directly asked their satisfaction with Evergreen experiences, more than 90% reported being somewhat or very satisfied with interdisciplinary education, faculty narrative evaluation, quality of instruction, the education they were able to construct, self-evaluation process, individual contracts, community service, culminating projects, internships, and study abroad. Students were most dissatisfied with opportunities for advanced undergraduate work, tolerance for different or opposing views, and advice from faculty.
In terms of ten work-related skills, a plurality of CTL alumni rated themselves as "good" in four categories and "excellent" in six more. Evergreen was seen as contributing to some extent or a great deal in all skill areas with particular help in the development of skills in creative thinking, independence and initiative, and willingness and aptitude to learn new skills. They saw themselves as learners with an ability and willingness to take on new tasks.
In terms of employment, 78.5% of the CTL alumni were employed one year after graduation compared with 84% of all alumni. Of those employed, 69.3% of CTL alumni were employed in an area that was at least somewhat related to their area of primary study at Evergreen. 75.8% of employed CTL alumni felt that their Evergreen experience had prepared them adequately or very well for their current positions.
In terms of graduate or professional school, 32% of CTL alumni applied to graduate/professional school within one year of graduation. Of twenty-four alumni who applied, twenty-one had been offered admission (87.5%) and three applications were pending. Of seventy-nine CTL alumni, nineteen attended or are currently attending graduate or professional school within one year of graduation. The nineteen alumni were continuing their work in Washington (eleven), other states (six), and internationally (two). Two had enrolled in graduate studies at Evergreen in this time frame. The rate of 25% of alumni going directly to graduate school was slightly higher than the 21% of all Evergreen alumni respondents who entered graduate school in this period.
The most pressing issue in the area is number of faculty. The number of faculty members affiliated with the area has declined from a high of forty-nine active full-time teaching members in the 1997-98 school year to twenty-eight active full-time teaching members in the 2007-08 school year. If we restrict the range from 1998-99 to 2006-07, the loss is 46 to 30. (Data from catalogs for 1998-99, 2006-07, 2007-08 and faculty retention master list.) Obviously, the area has suffered significant attrition during the past ten years. This attrition affected two broad tendencies in the area. First, the planning unit in its formation in 1995 drew heavily on a pool of older experienced faculty who saw this area as the most open and creative location for “traditional” coordinated study work. This group of faculty formed the creative heart of the early years of the college. Many of these people were not obviously humanities hires in terms of training, but all addressed themselves and pushed the college to address issues from a deeply humanist perspective. (For a clear sense of the loss that this transition has signified for the area and the college please read Tom Grissom on Humanities at Evergreen – Emeritus Ceremony 2007). Over the past ten years, nearly all of these people have retired. This has meant that these positions have reverted to the faculty-wide pool of positions.
Once the area is competing faculty-wide, a second tendency develops from the propensity of the area to see its curriculum as addressing broad themes and issues and the consequent refusal of the area to define its curriculum in ordered hierarchical patterns (with the partial exception of language programs). This has meant that the area has had a difficult time asserting the need for any particular position in order to meet the demands of a particular field of study. Thus, until very recently, the area has not been particularly effective in obtaining positions from the faculty-wide pool. Even with the institution-wide recognition of a need for more humanities hires in the last two years, the area has serious issues in terms of hiring in support of Spanish, American history, religion, American literature, art history, creative writing, and philosophy. The efforts of the curriculum deans during the 2007-08 school year to reorganize the roles of planning units by diversifying the locations for the identification of possible hires and by creating inter-divisional positions has begun to make some inroads on this problem. In addition the area has entered into conversations that have explicitly addressed CTL's role, its rationale, and the implications of that role for new hires.
Related to this set of issues is the development and continuity of teaching in languages. This issue is connected to the choice of languages to be taught, the support of these languages within the full-time faculty, and the relation of full-time teaching to part-time language offerings. Recently the college has moved to support the teaching of Russian by adding a second faculty member in Russian history and is moving to hire a second classics hire to support the teaching of Latin and ancient Greek. Yet there is clearly a need to hire additional support in Spanish and there are complex questions about how to support languages that are occasionally included within repeating language and culture programs, e.g. Arabic, Chinese, or Gaelic.
But the call for more faculty members in the area is only part of the issue. While it is indeed the case that the area “needs” more faculty members in a wide range of subject areas, the area also need more people who have the capacity to bring to programs a broad sense of inquiry about fundamental questions such as what it means to be human and to engage in the making of culture and social life. While such a formulation is vague and very broad, it points at the central issue of liberal arts education; the development of reflexive and engaged thinkers. This sensibility is characteristic of Evergreen students and graduates. It is a way of being that asks students not just to know a particular skills, or a specific piece of information, but to synthesize, reflect, critically analyze, and engage knowledge as it affects students as individuals and as members of groups and the political universe. If the area is going to continue to lead in the creation of such students across the campus, it needs faculty members who can inspire such broad views, not simply those who possess specific disciplinary skills and knowledge.
Finally the area needs to clarify and advocate for its central mission. The essential nature of the questions of cultural and personal meaning, the critical nature of language and interpretation, and the central responsibility to engage the world in a way that speaks to values and choices that lie at the heart of humanistic studies need to be seen as essential to all of the work at the college. The area needs colleagues in other planning units to see the importance of these questions and potential students to see the value in these studies. This will require us to articulate what the planning unit can do and what it can offer both in terms of general education and in terms of breadth and complexity of experience within the area and across the college.
Theme and Mission
The Environmental Studies planning unit is organized around the study of the interactions between human systems and the natural world in order to support and sustain both. Environmental Studies includes both natural and social sciences and provides students with the opportunity to:
- Qualitatively and quantitatively investigate the chemical, physical and biological elements that define terrestrial and marine ecosystems;
- Understand the physical systems that underlie life on Earth;
- Understand the nature, development and interactions of human societies with the environment;
- Examine the richness and limits of environmental and social resources available to sustain both human and natural systems; and
- Engage in applied research and work to develop skills that support this effort.
Environmental Studies utilizes Evergreen’s full-time modes of study to provide a curriculum that emphasizes hands-on, experiential learning in field and community studies. The area is deeply committed to the engagement of students with active efforts to find scientific, social, and personal understanding of and responses to ecological destruction.
Faculty and Programs
The Environmental Studies faculty have a wide range of training in environmental chemistry, geology, hydrology, botany, marine science, sustainability, ecology, vertebrate biology, land use and environmental planning, forest and plant ecology, cultural/ecological anthropology, geography, zoology, evolutionary biology, entomology, environmental health, law and policy, environmental economics, forest ecology, community studies, agriculture, ornithology, conservation, and ecological agriculture. Faculty members in the Environmental Studies area are shared with the Master in Environmental Studies Program and provide a wide range of resources for students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. In the 1998-99 school year there were twenty-six full-time regular faculty actively teaching in the area. In 2006-07 school year the number was twenty-seven. While the numbers are stable, the personnel of the area has changed significantly with eleven new hires over the period. It is important to note that four to six faculty each year teach in the Master in Environmental Studies program.
Environmental Studies offers introductory work at the freshman and sophomore level and more advanced work in three major areas: Human Communities and the Environment, Natural History, and Environmental Science. Environmental Studies is the one planning unit where interdivisional work is the central core of the unit. Thus while three major areas are identified, teaching in the area very often deliberately and necessarily integrates natural science and social science (particularly policy) issues into its offerings at all levels. In addition to the work directly identified in the area, the campus-wide initiatives in sustainability (see the President’s Sustainability task force and the faculty initiative on sustainability and social justice) have significant implications for work that is broadly environmental across the curriculum.
The area teaches two sophomore or all-level two-quarter programs that serve as useful introductions to major concepts, techniques and foci of study within the area. In addition, the area often teaches a Core program that provides a strong introduction to the unit’s work. These programs are deliberately kept relatively small (usually one social science and one science faculty member and fifty students) in order to accommodate field trips and the use of laboratory facilities, and to provide somewhat different foci for students entering the area with differing concerns. The central issue in introductory programs is to help students develop a complex multi-disciplinary understanding of environmental issues and to begin to acquire the scientific tools and social scientific understandings that will allow them to work effectively as practitioners or more generally as citizens. In addition to these programs, the Introduction to Natural Sciences program offered by SI provides a very useful alternative entry point. Environmental Studies is a major contributor to the fulfillment of general education goals at the college. The 2006-07 EPR data shows 100% of area programs included some mathematics in their work with nearly 45% reporting extensive to moderate uses of mathematics. Even more clearly, 100% of the programs in Environmental Studies reported extensive scientific work. The strong scientific and social scientific base of the area helps push students who arrive with simply “a love of nature” into thinking precisely in scientific, often mathematical terms and in terms of a sophisticated political economy of environmental issues (EPR 2006-07 - Math by Planning Unit, EPR 2006-07 - Natural and Physical Sciences Overview, and EPR 2006-07 - Social Sciences by Planning Unit).
The area groups its offerings under three major headings. These headings include both repeating programs and annual programs and often involve students in inter-area work that supports their understandings of major issues. The first deals with Human Communities and the Environment. These programs have a strong emphasis on issues involving environmental policy, economics, history, geography and law, multi-cultural perspectives, planning, design and ecological agriculture. Programs in these areas often involve community study and advanced work in group projects. Second, natural history – the focus on observation, identification and interpretation of flora and fauna using scientific field methods as a primary approach – is one of the unique strengths of Environmental Studies at Evergreen. Full-time studies provide the opportunity to do introductory and advanced fieldwork at sites throughout the United States as well as in Central America. Studies in botany, ecology, entomology, geography, invertebrate zoology, vertebrate evolution, mammalogy, herpetology, mycology, and ornithology are undertaken in support of understanding ecology and biodiversity. Finally, Environmental Sciences engages students in the study of the underlying mechanism and structure of natural systems both living and non-living. Students are involved in a wide array of laboratory and field studies including biology, geology, chemistry, climatology, evolutionary biology, forest ecology, hydrology, marine biology, and oceanography. Students who intend to focus in the environmental sciences are encouraged to participate in such programs in SI as Introduction to Natural Sciences, Molecule to Organism, and Environmental Analysis regularly offered programs beyond the introductory level include: Practice of Sustainable Agriculture, Animal Behavior, Ecological Agriculture, Hydrology, Marine Life, Plant Ecology and Taxonomy, Temperate Rain Forests, and Tropical Rain Forests. Students in this concentration often work toward a BS or combined BA/BS degree.
Enrollment and Student Response to the Area
Environmental Studies is one of the primary fields of interest identified by both new first-year and transfer students who made a choice. In the 2006 New Student Survey, fully 16.4% of all first-year students identified Natural Resources and Conservation as their primary interest, making it the second most popular field of study at the college. Among out-of-state students, Natural Resources and Conservation was the most popular option with over 30% of students identifying this choice. Given the significance of out of state enrollment to the college budget, having broad environmentally appealing first-year programs makes both pedagogical and fiscal sense. Among transfer students both in and out of state, Natural Resources and Conservation was the third most popular choice of fields of study. On the most recent Evergreen Student Experience survey, 8.3% of respondents who identified one planning unit as an area of focus chose Environmental Studies. Another 5.7% of students had Environmental Studies as one of multiple choices (Evergreen New Student Survey 2005 – Field of Study Detail First-time, First-years, Evergreen New Student Survey 2005 – Field of Study Detail Transfer Students).
The area has generated between 300 and 400 FTE per year since the 1998-99 school year. The contribution to Core programs has varied widely over the time with a high of 100 FTE in 2002-03 and a low of twenty-seven FTE two years later. The area’s contribution to inter-area programs has hovered between thirty and sixty FTE with a high of eighty FTE in the 2005-06 school year. In only one of the years from 1998-99 did the area contribute at least 40% to Core and Inter-area programs. In part, the relatively weak showing in these segments of the curriculum reflects a choice to respond to demand for advanced work in the area (Curricular Visions_Selected Trends_97to07_update).
Alumni Survey Data
The last major survey of alumni was the 2006 review of 2004-05 graduates. The data cited in this section comes from this survey (Alumni Survey 2006: Environmental Studies). The survey demonstrated a very high level of satisfaction with the Evergreen experience on the part of alumni who identified Environmental Studies as one primary area of studies. On a four-point scale "very satisfied," the highest category, was the modal score on all but one of 14 categories. Overall, the quality of instruction and the interdisciplinary approach to instruction were ranked highest. The 60% of respondents who had participated in internships and 75% who had participated in contracts and individual research work with faculty ranked these experiences very highly. The 40% who had studied abroad were also very satisfied with their learning from these experiences. Students were less satisfied with senior culminating experiences, academic advice from faculty, learning interactions with other students, and the tolerance shown for opposing viewpoints.
When asked about Evergreen’s contribution to their own growth, “learning independently” followed immediately by “working cooperatively in a group” occupied the first two positions. All of the rankings had a mean of 3.33 or better on a five-point scale. The lowest score was of “readiness for a career.” That is ironic since 90% of graduates indicated they were employed and 65.7% of these said that their work was "somewhat in" or "in" their primary field of study at Evergreen. Nearly 78% of employed Environmental Studies alumni felt that their Evergreen experience had prepared them adequately or very well for their current positions.
In terms of ten work-related skills, a plurality of Environmental Studies alumni rated themselves as good in six categories and excellent in four more. Evergreen was seen as contributing to some extent or a great deal in all skill areas with particular help in the development of skills in effective communication, independence and initiative, and research skills.
In terms of graduate or professional school, 18.4% of ES alumni applied to graduate/professional school within one year of graduation. Of seven alumni who applied five had been offered admission (71.4%) and two had been denied. Of forty-one ES alumni, four attended or are currently attending graduate or professional school within one year of graduation. The four alumni were continuing their work in Washington (three), and internationally (one). Two had enrolled in graduate studies at Evergreen in this time frame. The rate of 10.5% of alumni going directly to graduate school was lower than the 21% of all Evergreen alumni respondents who entered graduate school in this period.
Environmental Studies confronts two significant issues as it moves forward. The first is simply to replace retiring faculty and expand the hiring of new faculty who can support the present offerings of the area and their growth. In particular, the college’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2020, the sustainability initiative, and the faculty sustainability and social justice curriculum initiative create the need for a revived commitment to community organization, architectural design, land use planning, environmental economics, and policy. These areas, which were major elements of the first years of the college, have diminished within the curriculum. A hiring effort that sustains the social science side of the area is crucial as the area takes on policy initiatives as a part of the undergraduate program. Finding a way to engage, support, and guide the sustainability initiatives is a major task that is made a bit more difficult by the necessity to include a significant number of the area’s social science faculty in the MES program. Finally, the disproportionate number of Environmental Studies faculty members who have taken on administrative duties at the college over the past 20 years has meant that there have been and continue to be significant impacts on the ability of the area to offer its curriculum. Replacement hiring for long term (three-to-eight-year) administrative appointments should be a matter of course.
A second major issue is teaching, logistics, and facilities support. The area needs better and more consistent maintenance and support for teaching facilities. Current requests from the area are for a greenhouse facility to support botany, agriculture, and organismal biology. Other ongoing projects include planning for an aquarium and a forest canopy walkway. In addition to the building of these facilities, better coordination, planning, repair, and maintenance of such facilities as the Organic Farm and teaching gardens is a high priority.
Beyond this, current faculty student ratios make it very difficult to do significant fieldwork without support of knowledgeable teaching partners. This reality has been a major force in pushing upper division work into smaller and more specific one-person, one-quarter programs. To create a more interdisciplinary upper division program, and in particular to allow collaboration between faculty who have very different backgrounds and knowledge (field science and social science), it is important to make upper division or graduate assistants available to help with both the logistics and the instruction in the field. This issue is shared (as indeed the facilities and technicians are shared) with Scientific Inquiry.
Finally, the area needs to provide a consistent presence in the first-year curriculum. The college has a strong reputation in Environmental Studies, particularly though not exclusively in natural history and field studies. The fact that in many years Environmental Studies was weakly represented in the curriculum at the Core level may well discourage students from attending the college. In particular, the lack of first-year options may discourage first-time, first-year students from out of state, 30% of whom identify ES as their first choice field.
Themes and Mission
Expressive Arts provides an opportunity for students to undertake significant rigorous work in visual, performing, and media arts within the context of a liberal arts education. The work of the area is designed to provide an opportunity for students to gain skills and experiences in the arts that both encourage collaborative work and the application of theoretical questions to the practice of making art. Programs emphasize the development of hands-on skills in the arts within the context of theme-based programs. The planning unit sees creative work as a central element in a broad, liberal arts education. Thus students in the arts are often required to do work outside the arts for admission to arts programs and interdisciplinary work is incorporated into arts programs. The area has high student demand and controls access to many arts programs quite rigorously through portfolios and prerequisites. In the years since the last review, the area has made significant and successful efforts to develop programs that more widely integrate arts across the curriculum. The unit has made significant efforts to provide increased opportunity for building writing and quantitative reasoning skills into their programs while continuing to emphasize the provision of visual media and performance literacies. The emphasis on projects that involve hands-on work helps students develop a sense of their own work and their own engagement with the techniques and skills that area programs provide. The planning unit emphasizes the development of learning communities within the programs that help students develop responsible and useful critical responses to each others work. These aspects of the area’s work help connect it directly to the expectations.
The Expressive Arts planning unit, supplemented by courses in Evening and Weekend Studies, provides nearly all of the advanced teaching in the arts with the exception of creative writing. Yet significant amounts of work in the arts occurs across the college with 66% of all programs reporting at least some work in the arts and CTL and inter-area programs reporting well over 80% of their programs reporting work in the arts. There is incredible variety of use of the arts in the college’s programs, and faculty across the college have worked hard to include some experience with arts in their programs ( EPR 2006-07 - Art by Planning Unit, Art Across the Curriculum, and Art, A Supplement).
Faculty and Programs
The Expressive Arts planning unit is divided into sub-areas that not only plan somewhat independently, but also provide distinct curricula in visual arts, media, and performance. The Expressive Arts area, like the Scientific Inquiry area, has worked very had over the years to develop and systematically staff its offerings. Each sub-area offers a yearlong introductory program, and both individual and group opportunities for more advanced work. The planning unit as a whole systematically supports individual contracts and senior thesis work in the arts with personnel and funds. Currently there are twenty-four full-time faculty actively teaching associated with the area. At the time of the last review there were twenty-three. While there have been seven new hires over the period, nearly all of these faculty have been hired to replace retired faculty, rather than to open new initiatives.
The Moving Image Group (MIG) sub-area sees media production as a fundamentally interdisciplinary activity. Five faculty members are associated with this sub-area. The pedagogy that develops from this interdisciplinary perspective links theoretical understanding and critical analysis of images with the practice of working together to create new images. The group focuses its work on non-fiction film and video and supports work in animation, multi-media, performance, and installation. The sub-area is confronted by continually and rapidly evolving technology. The constant revisions of formats, equipment, and access have challenged the area’s faculty and staff. The remodel of the media facilities in the library has caused considerable disruption. However, it will be a significant support of the area when it is finished in the fall of 2009.
The Visual and Environmental Arts sub-area organizes around the recognition that in an increasingly complex and visually oriented society, the visual arts and environmental design have a vital role in all aspects of culture. Curricular offerings address critical analysis of visual culture, strategies for visual thinking and communication, and the role of creative expression in addressing social and environmental problems. The sub-area provides full-time interdisciplinary, theme-based programs as well as specifically focused studio work for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students. Facilities support drawing, art history, painting, printmaking, photography (analog and digital), sculpture (wood and metal), sustainable design, fine metals, fibers, ceramics, installation, and performance art. Many faculty teaching in the sub-area teach skills in multiple areas. Currently there are ten full-time faculty, four full-time staff (to manage facilities in wood and metal, printmaking, and photography), one half-time staff (for ceramics) and six to eight adjunct faculty teaching in Evening and Weekend Studies and Extended Education. Most part-time studies are skill-oriented. The area has recently completed a redesign of its curricular pathways and looks forward to collaborative longer-term planning for the full-time and part-time curriculum with arts faculty in Evening and Weekend Studies.
Performing Arts offers work in theater, music, and dance. The sub-area currently has nine faculty members (four music, two dance, three theater) and is supported in its efforts by four theater staff and two full-time building staff. The area supports interdisciplinary performance work, inter-arts work, and disciplinary work. Faculty emphasize commonalities between the performance disciplines and collaborative project work. Programs stress the role and function of the performing arts in human culture and history; they also investigate social and political situations. In recent years there has been significant reevaluation of the sub-area’s offerings. The introductory-level program in the area has undergone changes in the way it is staffed to better prepare students for advanced work. The upcoming hire in modern dance and kinesiology (to begin in fall 2008) will bring dance faculty numbers into balance with the other performing arts faculty, and is expected to ease the burden of the dance faculty from having to fully staff their own programs as well as part-time offerings.
Introductory Programs and Pathways
Expressive Arts focuses attention in first- and second-year programs in developing skills in inquiry, critical thinking, and arts literacies. In addition, Visual Arts is experimenting with studio skills at the Core level to improve the general skills of lower division students and prepare them more effectively for advanced work. Faculty across the Expressive Arts have consistently offered introductory programs, which have experienced increasingly strong enrollments. In the case of Visual Arts, a portfolio is required for entry to the program. In the case of Mediaworks, faculty members request a written application for consideration. The programs have required significant time in out-of-area study for entry and have been aimed at advanced sophomores, juniors, or seniors. These programs have served as prerequisites for advanced work, in small Student Originated Study (SOS) group projects, in Senior Thesis projects, and in admission to upper-level programs. Performance Works (the new title of the introductory program in the Performing Arts) is offered annually. There is variation among the Performing Arts faculty about pedagogical priorities in the area. The sub-area’s changes are yielding better enrollments.
EA's introductory programs have helped to define some clear basic competencies, and have encouraged not simply the acquisition of skills, but the development of a broader perspective on the role and place of arts in society. Faculty have taken on a series of strong collaborative efforts with colleagues in other areas, specifically Scientific Inquiry; Culture, Text, and Language; and Environmental Studies. Overall the area has worked to provide sufficient support to inter-area and Core programs. Expressive Arts is the only planning unit that systematically provides not only financial, but faculty and staff support for Senior Thesis projects. The area also provides support for students to do advanced work in all three areas.
Student Response to the Curriculum
Expressive arts is popular with students. Among students brand new to the college, 16.5% of transfers and 27.7% of freshmen indicate that they want to pursue work in the visual and performing arts (Evergreen New Student Survey 2005 – Field of Study Detail First-time, First-years and Evergreen New Student Survey 2005 – Field of Study Detail Transfer Students). On the Evergreen Student Experience Survey, 22% of students who identified only one planning unit (75.2% of respondents) indicate that Expressive Arts is their primary field of study or concentration. Another 12.4 % of respondents identified EA as one of multiple areas they were studying (Evergreen Student Experience Survey 2006 – Primary Field of Study – Planning Unit Analysis – Olympia Campus Students). Enrollment in the area’s offerings has remained essentially stable between 1998-99 and 2005-06 at approximately 440 FTE per year. The area has made significant efforts to contribute to Core and inter-area teaching over the period, contributing between 35% and 52% of its teaching effort to work in these two modes (Curricular Visions_Selected Trends_97to07_update).
Alumni Survey Data
A critical mode of assessing the work of the area is satisfaction of area graduates with their experience. The 2006 Alumni Survey of the class of 2004-05 is the latest set of data on alumni satisfaction. All data in this discussion is drawn from this data set. (Alumni Survey 2006: Expressive Arts)
Overall, alumni who concentrated their studies in Expressive Arts report very high rates of satisfaction with Evergreen’s contribution to their academic and personal growth. In twenty-one of twenty-four aspects of their Evergreen work, over 80% of Expressive Arts students were "somewhat" to "very satisfied" with their experience. Students were most satisfied with capacity to express themselves in a creative or artistic way, their understanding and appreciation of the arts, their capacity to work independently, their capacity to work in groups, their functioning as a responsible member of a diverse community, and their knowledge of a broad range of subjects. For ten of twenty-four categories mean satisfaction was four or better on a five-point scale. All but three means were greater than three and a half. Students gave lower marks to their perceived readiness for a career and further education and to their capacity to use mathematical and scientific principles.
When alumni were directly asked their satisfaction with Evergreen experiences, more than 90% reported being somewhat or very satisfied with interdisciplinary education, faculty narrative evaluation, quality of instruction, the education they were able to construct, advice from faculty, self-evaluation process, individual contracts, culminating projects, internships, and study abroad. Students were most dissatisfied with opportunities for advanced undergraduate work and tolerance for different or opposing views.
In terms of ten work-related skills, Expressive Arts students scored a modal score of excellent on a four-point scale. Evergreen was seen as contributing to some extent or a great deal in all skill areas with particular help in the development of skills in creative thinking, effective communications, independence and initiative, and willingness and aptitude to learn new skills. They saw themselves as learners with an ability and willingness to take on new tasks.
In terms of employment, 84.3% of the Expressive Arts concentration alumni were employed one year after graduation compared with 84% of all alumni. Of those employed, 55% of Expressive Arts alumni were employed in an area that was at least somewhat related to their area of primary study at Evergreen. 66.7% of employed Expressive Arts alumni felt that their Evergreen experience had prepared them adequately or very well for their current positions.
In terms of graduate or professional school, 24.5% of Expressive Arts alumni applied to graduate/professional school within one year of graduation. Of twelve alumni who applied, eight had been offered admission (67.5%), two applications were pending, and two had been denied. Of fifty-one Expressive Arts alumni, eight attended or are currently attending graduate or professional school within one year of graduation. The eight alumni were continuing their work in Washington (three), other states (four), and internationally (one). Two had enrolled in graduate studies at Evergreen in this time frame. The rate of 16.3% of alumni going directly to graduate school was slightly lower than the 21% of all Evergreen alumni respondents who entered graduate school in this period.
The most persistent issue voiced by faculty in the area is faculty/student ratio. Faculty have several concerns that emerge from this question. First, in some spaces there are fewer pieces of necessary equipment than there are students in the class. This either means students do not get to do all of the work or that faculty or staff repeat workshops. Several faculty members noted that they regularly carry thirty or more contact hours in studio per week. Second, the ratio of 25/1 is seen to be too high for effective critical support of student work. Many noted that simply speaking effectively to each student’s work was difficult and that the need to add important skills development and written work beyond that made finding time to do a good job very problematic. Finally, several faculty members noted that students coming to the college were younger and often in need of quite basic skills. This presumed relative weakness of students in comparison to years past led to a faculty perception of more academic and psychological difficulties. The high student-faculty ratio means it is extremely difficult and time consuming for faculty to meet the needs of challenged students. Finally, higher student-faculty ratios make it harder to maintain safety in such areas as dance, and in the wood and metal shops.
The relationship of the planning unit to Evening and Weekend Studies, and especially to Extended Education initiatives by the college, raises considerable concern about whether these activities are supplementing or supplanting the area's offerings. There have also been concerns raised about hiring processes and decisions in these areas.
The current temporary use of teaching areas in Seminar II by staff displaced by the major remodel of the library, as well as the continuing remodeling of this major facility that houses important media facilities, has inconvenienced faculty as they try to allocate scarce space resources and diminished opportunities for students in this period.
EA identified issues dealing with replacing retiring faculty and the replacement of support to the unit when faculty members go on leave without pay. They argue strongly for more permanent lines in order to assure effective planning and consistent curriculum.
The central concern of the Scientific Inquiry planning unit is the scientific understanding of nature. Its goals are to engage students in a community within which ways of scientific thinking about the natural world are developed and utilized to create an understanding of natural phenomena. Scientific thinking is understood to involve the identification of hypotheses and the use of appropriate instruments, theory, and models to arrive at sound conclusions about the hypothesis. The SI area understands scientific thinking as a valuable piece of a liberal arts education in its own right. Scientific thinking is seen as a necessary part of a general education for a democratic society within which science and technology play a major role. Reciprocally, scientists are understood to need a broader social, historical, and ethical context within which to consider the consequences of their work. The area sees its responsibility to both provide depth for students who hope to become members of the scientific community and to provide breadth for students who will be citizens within a democratic society. SI is the primary location for instruction in chemistry, mathematics, computer science, biology, and physics in the college curriculum.
Faculty and Programs
Faculty in the SI area are trained and provide instruction in a wide variety of scientific disciplines including: chemistry, biology, computer science, mathematics, physics, and history of science and technology. In the period from the 1998-99 school year to end of the 2006-07 school year, the SI area grew from twenty to twenty-five active regular faculty. Fourteen of this twenty-five are new to the faculty since 1998-99.
Faculty in SI have developed and organized a set of repeating programs that provide increasingly sophisticated instruction in five major areas: biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and physics. These programs emphasize laboratory work, engagement with real world phenomena, and collaborative work. Students are taught to formulate questions and devise means for solving problems, collecting data, and analyzing data in light of underlying theory. Evergreen’s teaching of the sciences is notable for hands-on work, collaborative effort, attention to integration across disciplines, and the ways in which each discipline contextualizes others. Undergraduate access to sophisticated analytic equipment – including mass spectrometry, NMR, scanning electron microscopy, and infrared spectrometry – allows students to do advanced work.
|Foundations of Health Science
Introduction to Natural Science
|Foundations of Health Science
Introduction to Natural Science
|Algebra to Algorithm
Computer Science Foundations
Models of Motion
|Models of Motion
Computer Science Foundations
|Models of Motion
Astronomy and Cosmology
|Molecule to Organism
|Molecule to Organism
Atoms Molecules Research
Student Originated Software
|Methods of Applied Math
Introductory Programs and Pathways
The SI area systematically provides introductory programs to the five major pathways in its curriculum. Programs such as Introduction to Health Sciences and Introduction to Natural Science provide alternative vehicles for entering work in the biology and chemistry paths. The former emphasizes allied health science while the latter is a more general college-level introduction to science. Similarly, Models of Motion and Computer Science Foundations are shared between mathematics and computer science. Together they provide a strong introduction to mathematics, computer science and physics. Advanced work in the area is reflected in End of Program Review data, where SI faculty were far more likely than faculty from other areas to identify advanced work in their area as doing upper division work in upper division programs versus doing independent work. In addition, the area provides significant opportunities to work with faculty on faculty research projects as another vehicle for advanced work. These projects have frequently led to professional presentation and publication by Evergreen science students. SI makes a major contribution to the teaching of both mathematics and science to students who undertake some work in the sciences during their time at Evergreen and to students who participate in Core and inter-area programs where SI faculty teach. Fully 100% of area programs report using mathematics and quantitative reasoning in their programs and 75% of those report this as a major emphasis (EPR 2006-07 - Math by Planning Unit). Nearly 90% (88%) of SI programs reported natural or physical sciences with 81% of these reporting extensive use of Science. Clearly SI faculty members are instrumental in teaching both mathematics and sciences in first-year and inter-area programs (EPR 2006-07 - Natural and Physical Sciences by Planning Unit).
The significant and continuing effort to provide systematic and coherent pathways for science students has been a major effort on the part of SI faculty. This effort has led historically to a relatively low participation of science faculty in Core. Between 1997-98 and 2005-06 the area’s participation in Core has ranged from a high of 14.4% of the FTE generated in the area to a low of 1.6%. The participation of SI faculty in inter-area programs has been much more substantial, ranging from a low of 13.2% of FTE generated to a high of 28.4% (Curricular Visions_Selected Trends_97to07_update). The area has made significant efforts in the past few years to increase its participation in Core and has opened up a considerable number of freshman seats to students in Foundations of Health Science, Introduction to Natural Science and other programs by treating them as all-level or lower division programs. This has meant that finding consistent faculty support for the teaching of quantitative and scientific concepts in a general education setting in Core and inter-area has been difficult. Hiring faculty in health sciences is meant to lead to a new integration around issues of health between social science and science faculty. The success of these efforts depends heavily on the recruitment of science students and involvement of social science faculty interested in working on health issues. SI has collaborated effectively with visual arts in recent years to create some exciting inter-area programs.
Student Participation and Satisfaction
In the time since the last accreditation, faculty in SI area have accounted for between 16% and 20% of the total FTE generated in undergraduate full-time programs, or between 370 and 461 FTE. There is no distinct trend in the data, although the numbers seem to have stabilized around 17%. Students who are attracted to the area have strong interests in biology and in health-related fields as well as a smaller number with interests in computer science and physical sciences (see Evergreen New Student Survey 2005 – Field of Study Detail First-time, First-years and Evergreen New Student Survey 2005 – Field of Study Detail Transfer Students). On the Evergreen Experience Survey, 14.6% of the 75% of students who indicated a single area of focus identified themselves as studying in Scientific Inquiry. Another 9% of students listed SI as among the areas in which they were working (Evergreen Student Experience Survey 2006 – Primary Field of Study – Planning Unit Analysis – Olympia Campus Students).
Alumni Survey Data
A critical mode of assessing the work of the area is satisfaction of area graduates with their experience. The 2006 Alumni Survey of the class of 2004-05 is the latest set of data on alumni satisfaction. All data in this discussion is drawn from this data set (Alumni Survey 2006: Scientific Inquiry).
Overall, alumni who reported that Scientific Inquiry was a primary focus of study at Evergreen noted very high rates of satisfaction with Evergreen’s contribution to their academic and personal growth. In twenty-two of twenty-four aspects of their Evergreen work, over 80% of Scientific Inquiry students were somewhat to very satisfied with their experience. Alumni were most satisfied with learning independently, understanding and applying scientific principles, working cooperatively in groups, defining and understanding problems, participating in class discussions, and critically analyzing information. Indeed, for fifteen of twenty-four categories, mean satisfaction was four or better on a five-point scale. All but one mean were greater than three and a half. Students gave lower marks to their perceived readiness for a career and understanding different philosophies and cultures.
When alumni were directly asked their satisfaction with Evergreen experiences, more than 90% reported being somewhat or very satisfied with interdisciplinary education, faculty narrative evaluation, quality of instruction, the education they were able to construct, individual contracts, community service, culminating projects, internships, and study abroad. Students were most dissatisfied with quality of learning interactions with other students and the self-evaluation process.
In terms of ten work-related skills, a plurality of Scientific Inquiry alumni rated themselves as excellent on five skills and good on five more on a four-point scale. Evergreen was seen as contributing to some extent or a great deal in all skill areas with particular help in the development of skills in independence and initiative and research skills. SI graduates saw themselves as well organized, capable of taking initiative, communicating, making decisions, and willing and able to learn new skills.
In terms of employment, 91.5% of the Scientific Inquiry concentration alumni were employed one year after graduation compared with 84% of all alumni. Of those employed, 65.1% of Scientific Inquiry alumni were employed in an area that was at least somewhat related to their area of primary study at Evergreen. 67.4% of employed Scientific Inquiry alumni felt that their Evergreen experience had prepared them adequately or very well for their current positions.
In terms of graduate or professional school, 41.3% of Scientific Inquiry alumni applied to graduate/professional school within one year of graduation. Of nineteen alumni who applied, twelve had been offered admission (63.2%), four applications were pending, and three had been denied. Of forty-nine Scientific Inquiry alumni, twelve attended or are currently attending graduate or professional school within one year of graduation. The twelve alumni were continuing their work in Washington (five) and other states (seven). No one had enrolled in graduate studies at Evergreen in this time frame. The rate of 26.1% of alumni going directly to graduate school was slightly higher than the 21% of all Evergreen alumni respondents who entered graduate school in this period.
A major issue confronting the area is the creation of a large enough faculty and a small enough central curriculum that a sufficient number of faculty are available for work outside of the regular offerings of the curriculum. While many students do gain significant exposure to scientific and mathematical ideas through SI’s introductory programs, and another significant group gain some exposure to scientific concepts through the participation of some SI faculty in Core and inter-area programs, concern with coherent and legitimate paths that allow Evergreen students access to graduate work have made engagement with more general science education difficult. In the past three years the area has worked to restructure the planning process to put a higher priority on creating more freshman seats by opening some programs as all-level and allowing freshman registration, by converting programs from sophomore-level programs to lower division programs, and by staffing Core and inter-area programs. This highlighting of the necessity of providing instruction for freshmen has led to more all-level teaching, the development of some lower division programs, and greater participation of area faculty in Core programs. While this solution works well to increase the number of science-based seats available to freshmen, it does little to expand the teaching of science to a non-science constituency.
The SI self-study notes that although there is considerably more talk about what science for “non-majors” should look like at Evergreen, there is no well developed agreement. Concomitantly, there is no clear idea of what the non-science portions of the major scientific introductory and mid-level programs should be. This difficulty, when combined with quite different levels of integration of program concepts from year to year, makes it difficult to create a consistent set of concepts to frame a context for thinking about broader scientific and social issues.
SI also identifies the difficulties that accompany the decision to offer major disciplines in coordinated studies structures. Primary among these is difficulty supplementing math skills and other prerequisites for transfer students or students who avoided mathematics early in their college careers. The tension between the desire for integration and full-time coordinated study work and the need for particular pieces of content is a continuing tension, one which will necessarily engage a conversation with Evening and Weekend Studies and Evergreen's Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning (QuaSR) Center.
Society, Politics, Behavior and Change
Themes and Mission
The SPBC planning unit provides the overall umbrella for most of the formal teaching in the social sciences and also includes most faculty members who rotate in and out of the Master in Teaching (MIT) and the Master in Public Administration (MPA) programs. The planning unit was drawn together from five quite different specialty areas. To this day, the planning unit represents the very different understandings of the social sciences that were embodied in these earlier planning groups. The overall goal of the area is to use a variety of social science disciplines to provide students with a better understanding of society as it operates at a local, regional, and international level. Within the generally shared concern with an analysis of issues of diversity, the area also helps students understand how to use different levels of analysis from the individual through the global level to develop an understanding of social issues. Student work is seen as requiring the development of a variety of writing, research skills, practices, and theoretical perspectives. Five major sub-units organize the area’s work: Master of Public Administration (MPA), Master in Teaching (MIT), Political Economy, Psychology, and Business/Management. In addition, several other faculty members trained in social sciences affiliate with the unit. Finally, although the area is the primary place where social sciences are taught, it is far from being the only place. Important elements of social sciences are taught in Culture, Text, and Language, Environmental Studies, and the Master in Environmental Studies areas.
Faculty and Programs
The disciplines of anthropology, law, economics, history, public policy, public administration, labor studies, management, political science, international affairs, philosophy, sociology, health sciences, business, teaching and learning, and psychology are represented in the area. The Master in Teaching (MIT) program and the newly approved Master of Education (M.Ed.) program provide advanced work in public K-12 education and the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program offers work in public, nonprofit, and tribal administration. The presence of graduate programs in the area simultaneously enlarges the range of capacities and the number of faculty available to teach in the area and imposes significant demands on those resources. The work of the graduate programs is discussed in section three of this chapter. Thus, while the list of faculty affiliated with the area is large (thirty-four plus eight visitors in 2006-07), the actual numbers of faculty regularly participating in the undergraduate curriculum varies between twenty-five and thirty per year. The disciplinary concentration of the area has shifted in the past decade, with a growth of six faculty in business and MPA, two in psychology, and two in MIT, and the loss of six faculty in general social sciences.
The area offers thee major undergraduate foci: political economy, administration and business, and psychology. Political economy focuses on the intersection of politics and economics and emphasizes global political economy and its impact on issues of gender, race, and class within the United States. In past years an introductory political economy program with faculty trained in economics, political science, and a variety of other disciplines has been offered along with a variety of more advanced offerings. More recently, finding staffing for the introductory program has been difficult. Approximately eight faculty members are associated with this group.
A second focus is the undergraduate-level curriculum in administration and business. The college has made new hires in business in recent years and currently an introductory business program is offered and a second-year program is anticipated. Six faculty members have some affiliation with management and business at the undergraduate level. Within this group there are faculty who exclusively identify with either business or management.
The third focus is on psychology with a particular emphasis on counseling. Five faculty members currently teach psychology. There is a pathway in psychology beginning with some variant of Human Health and Development. An alternative introduction is taught regularly in the one-quarter So You Want to Be a Psychologist program. The pathway culminates with a unique Multi-cultural Counseling Program that incorporates both academic and experiential work in counseling. There are also opportunities for psychological research, queer studies, social psychology and other topics with the area’s faculty. Individual contracts and internships support work in counseling.
Planning in the area tends to occur within sub-groups. The lines between groups are not hard and fast and there are a number of faculty members in the area who work in more than one group as well as a number of faculty members each year who rotate either into or out of graduate programs.
Although pathways exist in parts of SPBC (political economy, psychology, administration, and business), creating a more general pathway into the social sciences has proved difficult, because of the range of disciplines, the lack of a broadly shared paradigm, and limited staff. Nevertheless, there is a substantial consensus that skills in reading, library research, critical thinking, and writing are essential. In addition, significant efforts have been made in the past several years to incorporate more quantitative reasoning, primarily in statistics and research methods, into the offerings of the planning unit.
There is a strong consensus that students should develop skills in general liberal arts, understandings of disciplinary perspectives, and be effective personally and in groups to engage in efforts to bring about change. They should have the opportunity to develop necessary disciplinary skills for graduate work. The area emphasizes resisting inequality and striving for equity, re-conceptualizing the self in the face of a critical analysis of power and privilege, and moving towards creating and generating change at different levels of social systems.
The planning unit is the site of some excellent teaching about a wide range of subjects, including global political economy, counseling psychology, anti-oppression work at a variety of levels, organization, business, and management. The area has made a series of attempts to strengthen its internal organization and participation including time to share work, to work on planning, and to address pedagogy.
Student Response to the Area
The SPBC planning unit is the most popular on campus according to the 2006 Evergreen Student Experience Survey. Some 26.7% of students who identified a single area of focus found a home in SPBC. Another 16.6% of students interested in more than one area identify SPBC as a choice. Students in the area are roughly evenly split among those who identify business and management, education, psychology, and social sciences, as their primary choices with a smattering of law and public service professions rounding out the list (Evergreen Student Experience Survey 2006 - primary field of study – Olympia Students).
SPBC contributed an average of 425 FTE to the undergraduate curriculum per year between the 1997-98 and 2005-06 school years. The area’s contribution increased significantly in the last four years of the period to nearly 500 FTE. The area overall has contributed an annual average of 15.3% of its teaching effort to Core programs over the same period. The area has made a consistent and significant contribution of just over 30% of its teaching effort to the teaching of inter-area programs (Curricular Visions_Selected Trends_97to07_update).
Alumni Survey Data
A critical mode of assessing the work of the area is satisfaction of area graduates with their experience. The 2006 Alumni Survey of the class of 2004-05 is the latest set of data on alumni satisfaction. The following data is based on a subset of Olympia alumni from the 2006 Alumni Survey of the class of 2004-05 who identified that education, business, or other SPBC fields were a primary area of study while at Evergreen (Alumni Survey 2006: Society, Politics, Behavior and Change).
Overall, alumni report very high rates of satisfaction with Evergreen’s contribution to their academic and personal growth. SPBC alumni were most satisfied with learning independently, participating in class discussions, synthesizing information and ideas, and critically analyzing information. For eighteen of twenty-four categories, mean satisfaction was between mostly and very satisfied (four) or better on a five-point scale. All of the mean ratings were above “somewhat satisfied” (three) on the rating scale. Alumni gave lower marks to their perceived readiness for a career, depth in a particular field, and understanding and applying quantitative and scientific principles.
When alumni were directly asked their satisfaction with Evergreen experiences, more than 90% reported being somewhat or very satisfied with interdisciplinary education, quality of instruction, the education they were able to construct, faculty narrative evaluation, and study abroad. Alumni were most dissatisfied with tolerance for different or opposing views and culminating senior experiences.
In terms of ten work-related skills, a plurality of SPBC alumni rated themselves as excellent on eight skills and good on the other two skills on a four-point scale. Evergreen was seen as contributing to some extent or a great deal in all skill areas with particular help in the development of skills in creative thinking, communication, independence and initiative, research skills, and willingness and aptitude to learn new skills. SPBC graduates saw themselves as strong thinkers and communicators who are able to work effectively in culturally diverse environments, take initiative, and learn new skills.
In terms of employment, 85.6% of the SPBC alumni were employed one year after graduation, compared with 84% of all alumni. Of those employed, 71.7% were employed in an area that was at least somewhat related to their area of primary study at Evergreen. And 79.8% of employed SPBC alumni felt that their Evergreen experience had prepared them adequately or very well for their current positions.
In terms of graduate or professional school, 30.4% of SPBC alumni applied to graduate/professional school within one year of graduation. Of thirty-five alumni who applied, twenty-seven had been offered admission (77.1%), six applications were pending, and two had been denied. Of 122 SPBC alumni, twenty-two attended or are currently attending graduate or professional school within one year of graduation. The twenty-two alumni were continuing their work in Washington (fifteen), other states (three), and internationally (four). Six had enrolled in graduate studies at Evergreen in this time frame. The rate of 19.1% of alumni going directly to graduate school was slightly lower than the 21% of all Evergreen alumni respondents who entered graduate school in this period.
The primary issues facing the planning unit are its function and staffing. While most other planning units have a reasonably well-defined sense of their central work and effort, SPBC is drawn in several different directions. The appearance of master's-level faculty and several emeritus faculty on the rolls of the planning unit make it appear that there is an appropriate number of faculty to staff the area’s diverse offerings. Actually, the area has around twenty-five faculty members at the undergraduate level. Yet within this limited range of faculty whose efforts are directed at undergraduates, a significant number of individual faculty members operate somewhat autonomously, and the three major sub-areas have little substantial necessity to interact in order to plan curriculum. Like EA, the SPBC faculty have chosen not to pursue an area-wide introductory program, but to allow the three major tracks to operate somewhat autonomously.
It can be argued that there is a need for serious reflection on the teaching and place of the social sciences at Evergreen and the relationship of professional training to the undergraduate curriculum. The different missions of the groups in this area and the significant work done by social scientists in other areas need to be discussed and rethought, not necessarily to create more and better training in social sciences, but to find ways to integrate rigorous work in social sciences with a social, political, and engaged policy dimension in the work of all areas of the college.
The area is arguably understaffed. It can strengthen its programs through the development of a broad rationale connecting its work to the liberal arts core of the college. Such a case might well help the SPBC's representatives make convincing cases for additional hires. It is notable that the recent hiring in the area has developed in some large measure from administrative interest in developing curriculum in graduate programs and business rather than from a broad area-wide consensus.
Native American and World Indigenous Peoples Planning Unit
This unit is described in Section 2.G. as a part of the larger discussion of the college's engagement with Native communities in Washington state.
Evening and Weekend Studies
Themes and Mission
Whereas other planning units have typically been organized around a collection of various fields of study, the Evening and Weekend Studies (EWS) planning unit is centered on providing specific schedules and modes of study to students while covering all fields of study. The students served by EWS fall into two categories. There is one set of students who are taking all of their coursework for that quarter in EWS, and there is another set of students who are taking two or four credits in EWS on top of the program or contract work they are doing in other planning units. These two sets of students provide the two primary functions for the EWS curriculum. For the former set of students, EWS offers a comprehensive liberal arts curriculum that covers much of the range of subject matter found in other planning units. This subject matter is presented in a combination of part-time interdisciplinary programs (eight or twelve credits per quarter) and more focused courses (two or four credits per quarter). For the latter set of students, EWS offers focused courses (two or four credits per quarter) which allow the students to explore new fields of study, deepen their understanding of a particular academic field, or pursue prerequisites for specific undergraduate and graduate programs. The evening and weekend curriculum provides a way for students to explore visual arts, music, and dance courses; to acquire prerequisites in mathematics, social and natural sciences, and other disciplines; and to take foreign language sequences. Part-time programs and courses in EWS support pathways for students in American studies; arts and culture; body, mind, and health; computers and society; environmental studies; government, justice and citizenship; international studies; literature and writing; management, markets and entrepreneurship; work, workers and social change; and math and science. Each year, the area also supports a part-time program in conjunction with Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen.
There has been major growth in EWS since the last accreditation report, and the role of EWS in the college has changed as its contribution to the undergraduate curriculum has grown. Originally, EWS was designed to support continuing study towards a degree by part-time students at the college. The evening and weekend schedule was seen as a way to support place-bound and schedule-bound students who were working or supporting a family and were unable to commit to the full-time programs offered during the day. The evening and weekend schedule continues to support these students, but they have not turned out to be part-time students. Today EWS enrollment comprises 16% of the total student FTE at the college, and most of the students enrolled in EWS programs and course work are full-time students at the college. Thus the mission has moved to incorporate both part-time students and full-time students undertaking either supplementary work or taking full-time work within the EWS offerings.
One of the major factors contributing to the growth of EWS and the change in its role in the undergraduate curriculum was the decision in the 2001-02 school year to allow students to attempt as many as twenty hours per quarter. Students had previously been restricted to a maximum of sixteen quarter-hours per quarter. This change was undertaken to allow students access to a broader array of courses that might supplement their general education. This development helped spur growth in the use of EWS by full-time students, particularly in languages. At the same time, the number of faculty lines dedicated to staffing the evening and weekend curriculum was increased. The growth in EWS has been an important component in the college’s overall growth in the past ten years. Growth in the part-time programs has been modest, up merely 4% over the period. But enrollment in courses has risen 30% from 320.9 to 416.8 FTE in this period (Curricular Visions_Selected Trends_97to07_update).
Faculty and Programs
Since 1996, the college has had a dean whose primary responsibility has been organizing and staffing the evening and weekend curriculum. Currently, the EWS planning unit is staffed by twelve half-time, continuing faculty, a pool of about fifteen adjunct faculty who frequently teach in part-time programs, and an additional pool of about eighty adjunct faculty, some of whom are regular Evergreen staff, who teach two- and four-unit courses. Continuing faculty members have expertise in American studies, art history, literature, theater, labor studies, political and international studies, management, psychology, organizational development, social informatics/information sciences, environmental studies, environmental science, biology, mathematics, computer studies, and physics. Currently, two half-time-continuing faculty are serving as deans.
The program offerings of the area are consistently interdisciplinary and often inter-divisional in their focus. They are designed explicitly to incorporate elements of the five foci within them and to help students move toward fulfilling the six expectations. Courses offered typically include several offerings each quarter in each of the following areas: foreign language, writing, mathematics, sciences, business, psychology, and the visual arts. In addition, there are usually offerings in history, literature, dance, music, education, and sociology. Evening and Weekend Studies faculty also offer an upper-division program at Grays Harbor College. The content of the program often focuses on organizations and management. Recently, a focus on health and service has been added. Although enrollment in the Grays Harbor program dropped in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 academic years, changes to the structure and content of the program have produced a clear increase in enrollment in the past two academic years (Enrollment History for Grays Harbor Program and Grays Harbor Program Self-Study 2004).
End of Program Review (EPR) data demonstrates that the program component of the planning unit has focused most of its subject matter work on social sciences, humanities, and to a lesser degree, arts. [Data for this and the following paragraphs is taken from the EPR 2000-2005 Summaries of EPR Data] Data for Evening and Weekend Studies deals only with the half-time programs offered by the planning unit. The EPR data does not cover the significant growth in course offerings in this period. As pointed out above, the number of part-time programs and the number of seats in such programs has remained quite steady over the period. In the 2000-01 to 2005-06 period, between 67% and 93% of programs taught humanities, and over half of those programs made extensive use of humanities in their subject matter (EPR 2001-2005 - Humanities ). In 2006-07, 94% reported some use of humanities, and 61% reported extensive humanities work (EPR 2006-07 - Humanities by Planning Unit). Similarly, in social science 2006-07 data, 89% of programs reported using social sciences compared to 77% of all programs, and 55% of all programs made extensive use of social sciences (EPR 2006-07 - Social Sciences by Planning Unit). The role of arts in programs has varied from 56% in the 2006-07 data to as high as 75% for several years previous. However, intensive use of arts was present in only 22% of programs (EPR 2006-07 - Art by Planning Unit). 2000-01 to 2005-06 EPR data combine science and mathematics. While the number of programs reporting the use of science and math fluctuated from a high of 64% to a low of 19%, for the most part programs reported a minor emphasis on mathematics and science. The 2006-07 data show only 28% of programs had mathematics and 44% had science components; only 6% of programs reported extensive use of math and 16% reported extensive use of sciences (EPR 2006-07 - Math by Planning Unit and EPR 2006-07 - Natural and Physical Sciences Overview).
In terms of skills in writing, information technology literacy (ITL), and critical thinking, the planning unit has, like most other areas, been active in supporting general education goals. Both in writing and critical thinking, 100% of programs report working on these areas in significant ways. Writing was not simply expected but actively taught in most EWS programs. A particular emphasis was placed on response writing and critical essay writing. Work on critical thinking focused on the recognition of diverse perspectives (including analysis of one’s own perspective) on materials covered and analysis of the content of texts, images, and data. ITL 2006-07 data show that ITL was a component in over 80% of programs. Like most program areas, the primary uses of ITL were for information acquisition, presentation, and online communication and social software. Fully 83% of EWS programs, as opposed to 70% of all programs, reported work on ITL (EPR 2006-07 - Writing Overview, EPR 2006-07 - Critical Thinking Overview, and EPR 2006-07 - Information Technology Literacy Overview).
Data on student experience and satisfaction with EWS programs and courses requires the difficult task of disaggregating these students from the student body in general. A subgroup of 2006 Alumni Survey respondents from the class of 2004-05 who took 50% or more of their curricular offerings through EWS formed the subgroup described in this analysis (Alumni Survey 2006: Evening Weekend Studies). While students use EWS at all levels of their college experience, it is notable that transfer students entering as juniors constitute nearly half of those reporting extensive use of EWS offerings. EWS alumni were also significantly older than other alumni with a mean age of 31.2. However, EWS alumni are indistinguishable from alumni in other planning units when asked about Evergreen’s contribution to their education. Learning independently, participation in class discussion, critically analyzing information, and working cooperatively cluster at the top in terms of satisfaction. Readiness for a career, quantitative principles and understanding scientific principles cluster at the lower end (although the mean is still 3.29 or better on a five-point scale). Similarly, students were satisfied with the interdisciplinary approach, the education they could construct at Evergreen, the quality of instruction, and narrative evaluations. Dissatisfactions were a bit different with academic advice from faculty and opportunities for advanced work as areas where students could see room for improvement. In some measure this may reflect the smaller amount of contact with faculty in courses and part-time programs, the difficulty of providing a full range of advanced work within the confines of a limited faculty pool, and the dispersion of students in classes and half-time programs.
One year out of college, 89% of EWS alumni reported employment with 71% of those employed reporting that their work was somewhat or directly related to their primary studies at Evergreen. These numbers are directly comparable to other planning units. Fully 72% reported that their education had prepared them adequately or very well for their current job. Eleven of eighty-two EWS alumni reported attending or acceptance to graduate school in a wide variety of fields: library science, law, social science, teaching, and public administration. Students reported that Evergreen had prepared them adequately (54%) or very well (46%) for graduate school. While the rate of students attending graduate school was slightly lower than the college average, many of those not yet attending graduate school intended to apply to graduate school in the future.
Once again, the most compelling data in terms of EWS alumni is their similarity in terms of their experience, satisfactions, and results with alumni who identified as members of the other concentration area subgroups.
There are several curricular concerns which are unique to the EWS curriculum or which involve the coordination of the EWS curriculum with the rest of the undergraduate curriculum. The EWS curriculum is planned on a one-year cycle rather than the two-year cycle followed by the daytime curriculum. This structure allows the curriculum to adapt more quickly to shifts in the student body and other demands on the curriculum. This flexibility is enhanced by the fact that adjunct faculty staff much of the EWS curriculum. However, both of these characteristics have associated problems. The planning cycle makes it difficulty to collaborate with, rather than just react to, the curriculum offerings in the daytime. And the high number of adjunct faculty raises issues of faculty status just as it does in other institutions. The result is a sense of separation between the EWS faculty and the rest of the faculty. The faculty status issue is compounded by a lower pay rate for adjunct faculty. Even the status of continuing, half-time faculty can be questioned in terms of the equity of governance assignments and the ability to rotate into different areas of the curriculum.
The policy change in the 2001-02 academic year to allow students to take a total of twenty credits per quarter has arisen as an issue for EWS faculty in recent years. There are questions about whether students are generally successful when they attempt this increased credit load, and there is evidence that this issue disproportionately affects EWS faculty (Analysis of Over 16 Credit Load).
There are also specific issues of separation between the daytime and the EWS curriculum in terms of service to students. Over the past ten years, many improvements have been made in the services provided to EWS students and faculty, everything from access to media services to access to food services. There are still areas where further improvements are needed.
Finally, there is a question about the role of two- and four-credit courses in relation to the eight, twelve, and sixteen-credit programs offered at the college. Courses are generally offered on an evening and weekend schedule. Housed in a separate planning unit and taught on a separate schedule, they become easy to ignore during the overall curriculum planning efforts which center on the development of programs. At the same time, they become attractive to students because of their accessible schedule as well as their more familiar, narrow content. As mentioned in other sections of this document, there has been consistent growth in courses over the past ten years. The college needs to develop a more intentional approach to the development and delivery of courses. More advanced offerings need to be provided to match the upper-division standing of the majority of the students who enroll in the EWS curriculum. And faculty need to become more involved in setting goals for both the number and content of courses offered throughout the curriculum. At the same time, more attention needs to be paid to the development of programs that allow students to take a two- or four-credit course without overloading themselves by taking a total of eighteen or twenty credits. In other words, to meet the needs of students and advance the mission of the college, there needs to be greater coordination of program and course offerings.
2.B.2 Learning Assessment
The institution identifies and publishes the expected learning outcomes for each of its degree and certificate programs. Through regular and systematic assessment, it demostrates that students who complete their programs, no matter where or how they are offered, have achieved these outcomes.
Assessment of Undergraduate Learning
In response to a recommendation from the NWCCU to address issues of general education, the Evergreen faculty adopted Six Expectations of an Evergreen Graduate in spring 2001. By approving expectations of graduates, rather than requirements to graduate, the faculty acted on a central principle of education at Evergreen – that students are responsible for their own work. The expectations tell the students what they are generally expected to learn, but the choices of exactly what and how to learn are the responsibility of each student.
In addition to adopting the expectations, the faculty also approved an expanded advising plan and other support structures for implementation of the new general education initiatives. New curriculum models were developed to promote breadth and depth opportunities for students. The Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning Center (QuaSR), the Writing Center, faculty development funds, and faculty hiring priorities were also enhanced. At the end of their senior year, students are now encouraged to create a new summative student self-evaluation that addresses the Expectations and is submitted to their official transcript. An Assessment Study Group of faculty, staff, and students was charged in 2002 to develop an assessment plan for the new general education initiatives. Collaboration in the development of the assessment plan (and its subsequent revisions) were essential in promoting ownership and responsibility for both the process and use of the results. The Assessment Study Group developed two new assessment tools, the End-of-Program Review and the Transcript Review (Teaching and Learning at Evergreen 2002).
The assessment of the general educational program at Evergreen is framed as two related parts: teaching and learning. Teaching assessment focuses on how the curriculum provides students with “a substantial, coherent, and articulated exposure to the broad domains of knowledge” (as set out in Standard 2.C and detailed in 2.C.3). Learning assessment focuses on evidence that students are meeting the Expectations of an Evergreen Graduate; this is the part of the institutional assessment plan detailed here. Evergreen’s approach to learning assessment is guided by the standards of regional accreditation, including, but not limited to the following:
- “The Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities expects each institution and program to adopt an assessment plan responsive to its mission and its needs.” (Policy 2.2 Educational Assessment)
- “The institution identifies and publishes the expected learning outcomes for its degree programs. Through regular and systematic assessment, it demonstrates that students who complete their programs, no matter where or how they are offered, have achieved these outcomes.” (Standard 2.B.2)
- “While key constituents are involved in the [assessment] process, the faculty have a central role in planning and evaluating the educational programs.” (Standard 2.B.1)
- “The institution provides evidence that its assessment activities lead to the improvement of teaching and learning.” (Standard 2.B.3)
Evergreen has a rich method of assessing student achievements at the level of particular study: narrative evaluations, comprising both the faculty evaluation of student achievement (the faculty evaluation) and the student's own evaluation of achievement (the self-evaluation). The student transcript, consisting of records of transfer credits, program descriptions, as well as both student self-evaluations and faculty evaluations of students, serve as the primary basis for assessing student learning. The Transcript Review is a meta-assessment of a collection of authentic evaluation data that was documented at the time of the students’ work by the individuals who knew that work the best – students and their immediate faculty.
In August 2002, a group of faculty from across planning units, several staff, and a student assessed a random sample of transcripts of recent graduates using a rubric they developed based on the Expectations of an Evergreen Graduate. The 2002 transcript review served as a baseline measure, since the students whose transcripts were studied left the college just as the general education initiatives (including the formal adoption of the Expectations) were implemented. A second transcript review of a new random sample of graduates was completed in summer 2005. Both assessments have provided valuable information about student learning and about how well our transcripts demonstrate learning in terms of the Expectations. By repeating the assessment activity periodically, the college is able to assess evidence of change over time in how many of our graduates are fulfilling the Expectations. A second phase of the transcript assessment entailed coding all of the credits that students earned to complete their degree into six broad fields of study: humanities, social science, art, science, quantitative and symbolic reasoning, and other credits. This second step allows comparison of breadth and depth of education as assessed through credit accumulation to the results of the narrative assessment of student learning.
The undergraduate learning assessment strategies include all undergraduates at Evergreen, including those studying at off-site programs and students taking Extended Education courses for academic credit. While student Transcript Review is the primary tool for assessing learning at Evergreen, the assessment is costly and time-intensive, so it can only be repeated every three to four years. Other complementary assessment activities focus on other areas of interest during intervening years. A further consideration is to allow sufficient time between transcript reviews to allow new initiatives and program changes to be evidenced in graduating student records. Thus, the transcript assessment results are supplemented by selected indicators of student self-reported learning using the results of other more regularly occurring surveys. Survey items that correspond to each of the Evergreen Expectations have been selected from the annually-administered National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE); biannual alumni surveys of recent Evergreen graduates; and every four years the Greeners at Work Survey of alumni three years after completion, and their current employers.
Evidence of Learning in Terms of the Expectations
(See Standard 2 Supporting Documentation: General Education Learning Indicators)
Additional Learning Assessment Activities
Evergreen is also engaged in a variety of other educational assessment activities and projects that focus on critical learning outcomes in accordance with our mission. Following are a few examples.
In 2006, the Tribal: Reservation-based/Community-determined programs launched an e-portfolio program. Students in the program build and maintain portfolios in which they select examples of their work that they feel best demonstrate their progress in meeting the Expectations of an Evergreen Graduate (and their program-specific goal of indigenous knowledge). The students provide a reflective narrative to explain how their selection addresses the goals of the program. Their portfolio Web sites are open to review and comment by their faculty and fellow students. The portfolio is primarily a learning approach, but also provides a rich resource for developmental assessment.
A group of library faculty, staff, library interns, and students conducted two process assessments to explore student learning in information technology literacy (ITL). These assessments involved student participants as co-researchers who helped the college understand how students frame research questions, determine and implement research strategies, and make decisions about the value and meaning of information while conducting genuine research projects. The students attended a two-day workshop in the library while working on authentic research projects from their academic programs. They worked individually and in peer-review teams; all research activities were documented and debriefed, and all keystrokes were collected from Camtasia software loaded onto their laptops. The project was first conducted in 2003 with graduating seniors, and it was found to be very valuable for identifying strengths and weaknesses in our approaches to teaching information technology literacy. The assessment was then repeated with first-year participants in 2004 to gain a clearer picture of the skills which first-year students bring with them to college (The Activity of Information Literacy: A Process Assessment of Student Research Skills).
The college supports a mini-grant award program for faculty members who are willing to document evidence of the relationship of teaching practices and student learning. The faculty must describe how their research proposals connect to the mission and goals of the college. A growing collection of evidence-based learning assessment projects is now available to other faculty at Evergreen and the public (Faculty Assessment Web page). Institutional Research and Assessment is sponsoring two faculty members' assessment projects this year. One faculty member has developed an innovative, multi-faceted assessment of student diversity learning, and another faculty member is working to develop a model of student flow into and out of Evergreen to assist with future curriculum planning. A team of Evergreen faculty is also working with the Washington Center for Undergraduate Education in a national multi-institution evidence-based interdisciplinary learning assessment project.
A group of faculty and staff members is engaged in an ethnographic research project to better understand the nature and conditions of interdisciplinary teaching and learning. During the 2006-07 academic year, faculty members from several full-time, team-taught academic programs were interviewed regularly about their teaching and learning experiences and insights throughout the school year. As the multi-term programs came to a close, students from the programs participated in focus groups in which they articulated their learning and helped us better understand how students perceive interdisciplinary work. The ethnographic faculty interview data, observation of student work, and students’ focus group reflections are supporting the college’s ongoing dialogue about how well we are achieving our mission as a public, interdisciplinary liberal arts college. The experiential data and reflections of faculty and students evidence the shared teaching and learning experiences that occur in interdisciplinary learning community programs. A subsequent exploration of evidence of integrative learning and transformative educational experiences from NSSE data demonstrates that the experiences of the individual participants in the project are characteristic of many students at Evergreen (NSSE Transformative Education AACU presentation Jan 08, Washington, DC).
The directors of the Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning Center and the Writing Center each developed and piloted skills assessments for incoming first-year students who enrolled in the latest iteration of the Beginning the Journey program in fall 2007. The assessments were designed to help new students understand their own abilities in writing and quantitative reasoning and to facilitate conversations about student learning with tutors and faculty members.
In the recent past, Evergreen participated with our Washington public baccalaureate peers in the statewide learning assessment projects related to writing, critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, and information technology literacy. All of these projects brought together faculty from across institutions and disciplines to study student work, reflect on their own practices and values, learn about effective practices that lead to student learning, explore strengths and challenges, and improve their own teaching strategies. We continue to participate in strategy conversations about how to reinstitute this valuable work with our statewide colleagues, including pursuit of external funding to support developmental portfolio-based writing assessment, and other methods of sustaining the statewide collaborative conversation about common learning outcomes for students.
Evergreen Experience and Evergreen Graduates
Feedback from students and alumni about their experiences provides evidence of how well Evergreen is achieving its goals of providing engaging and relevant liberal arts education. One important source of such evidence is the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), in which Evergreen first-years and senior-class students participate annually. Evergreen students’ 2007 Level of Academic Challenge benchmark score was significantly higher (p<.001) than those for each of our three comparison populations: Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), other Master's-Smaller Program schools who share our Carnegie classification, and all participating institutions. First-years and seniors score so highly in this area because they spend more time preparing for class and their coursework has a greater emphasis on high level mental activities such as synthesis and organization, making judgments about the value of information, and analysis than other seniors. The NSSE also reveals that Evergreen students spend significantly more time on assignments that require integration of information from different sources and that they more frequently put together ideas from different courses in their work. These elements combined characterize Evergreen’s educational practices as those which regularly engage students in activities which contribute to deep learning.
Evergreen’s performance on NSSE’s Active and Collaborative Learning benchmark distinguishes us even further from our peer context. Again, both first-year and senior scores are significantly higher (p<.001) than all three comparison groups, and as with Academic Challenge, our students are as engaged as students in the top 10% (high-performing) NSSE institutions. In 2007, none of the survey items which make up this benchmark score had significantly lower scores than any of the peer groups. The intellectual activities captured by this benchmark illustrate common experiences for students at Evergreen. Students at Evergreen regularly work with other students in and outside of class to complete their work. They are expected to be active participants in class discussions, and they are encouraged to pose their own questions. They more frequently teach each other and participate in community-based projects than students at most other institutions. Finally, they regularly carry ideas from class with them into discussions with others outside of class. The evidence of Active and Collaborative Learning gleaned from the NSSE supports the college’s efforts to provide educational programs that encourage students to be personally engaged in their learning and active participants in community.
The NSSE also asks a series of questions which collect students’ perceptions of how their institution has contributed to their growth and development in a series of knowledge and skill areas. These data provide a sense of the relative strength of various learning domains present in Evergreen’s undergraduate program. In 2007, Evergreen first-year students perceived higher growth than students at all three comparison groups in five of the sixteen learning domains: thinking critically and analytically, learning effectively on your own, understanding yourself, understanding people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds, and solving complex real-world problems. Additionally, they reported higher growth than other students in at least one of the comparison groups in another six areas: speaking clearly and effectively, working effectively with others, voting in elections, developing a personal code of values and ethics, contributing to the welfare of your community, and developing a deepened sense of spirituality. Seniors attribute significantly more growth to their Evergreen experiences than all three comparison groups in eight of the sixteen learning domains. As with first-years, thinking critically and analytically, learning effectively on your own, understanding yourself, understanding people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds, and solving complex real-world problems are again among the areas which differentiate Evergreen students’ experiences. In addition, seniors reported higher growth than all three comparison groups in acquiring a broad general education, working effectively with others, and contributing to the welfare of your community. Beyond those eight areas, in another five domains, Evergreen seniors perceive significantly higher growth than seniors in at least one of the comparison groups: writing clearly and effectively, speaking clearly and effectively, voting in elections, developing a personal code of values and ethics, and developing a deepened sense of spirituality. They are neither higher nor lower than any comparison group in analyzing quantitative problems (NSSE 2007 Benchmarks Report).
A similar set of strengths rise to the top of the list of learning growth areas which alumni rate in biannually administered surveys of baccalaureate degree recipients. Alumni from the class of 2005 were surveyed in summer and fall 2006. Participants are asked to rate their satisfaction with Evergreen’s contribution to their growth in twenty-four areas. It is notable that seventeen of the twenty-four learning areas received an average rating above four on a five-point scale, which placed the average satisfaction in these areas between “mostly” and “very” satisfied. Further none of the items had an average satisfaction rating below the midpoint “somewhat satisfied” on the scale. The highest rated learning areas provide additional evidence of Evergreen’s concurrent emphases on personal autonomy and responsibility for your own work, collaborative and responsible participation, and complex thinking. The top five highest average ratings were attributed to growth in learning independently, participation in discussions, working cooperatively in a group, critically analyzing information, and synthesizing information and ideas from many sources. (Alumni Survey 2006).
Every four years, Institutional Research and Assessment administers the “Greeners at Work” survey which first collects information from alumni three years after graduation, and then asks the alum’s current supervisor to provide information about the abilities and expectations of the graduate in the workplace. Two Greeners at Work surveys have been completed during this ten-year accreditation cycle, in 1999 and 2003, and data collection just wrapped up from the 2007 administration. The survey affirms the ability of Evergreen graduates to self-assess their relative strengths in terms of work-related skill areas, since in most skills areas there is strong correspondence between alumni and employer ratings. Of the seventeen work-related skills rated, alumni and employers assigned the highest average skill levels to the same five areas, although in a slightly different order. Employers rated Evergreen alumni highest in their willingness and aptitude to learn new skills and their ability to work in a culturally diverse environment; alumni average ratings of their own skills simply switched the order of these top two skill areas. The next three highest areas in order of employer average ratings were ability to work cooperatively on team efforts, creative thinking skills, and independence and initiative. Again the areas of collaborative participation, independence and willingness to engage in personal challenge, and thinking skills rise to the top from another view of the outcomes of an Evergreen education (Greeners at Work 2003 - Alumni and Employers Three Years After Graduation).
Assessment of Graduate Learning
Each graduate program has its own set of expected learning outcomes for its students. The programs provide information about their ongoing assessment practices in Standard 2.D.
2.B.3 Engagement and Reflection
The institution provides evidence that its assessment activities lead to the improvement of teaching and learning.
The participatory assessment approach at Evergreen draws upon some of same pedagogies of engagement found in our educational programs. At its heart, assessment at Evergreen is about bringing people together to collaboratively engage with collected data to make meaning. Assessment is collaborative work which necessarily involves faculty, staff, and students. Members of the college often work in small groups to dig into questions, explore their own values and practices, share ideas, and report back to the broader community with recommendations based on their research. Individuals who engage directly in constructing meaning from various kinds of data are more likely to own the implications gleaned from that work.
Multiple modes of inquiry are employed in initial research methodology and subsequent assessment activities. Research methodologies include surveys, administrative data analysis, focus groups, experiential data, ethnography, participatory research, qualitative, quantitative, and creative modes of inquiry. Reporting methods include publishing materials on the Web site and conducting staff development workshops to raise awareness of the availability and contents of this resource. Email announcements of new research, printed reports, appearances at regular committee meetings, planning retreats, activities for new faculty and staff, other presentations, intensive assessment workshops, and posters are also used.
Questions for research are framed both by internal questions and external reporting needs. At times the assessment agenda is needed to address external requirements, but just as often the agenda is influenced by authentic, immediate questions generated by faculty, staff, and students. The impact of assessment activities is heightened when the topics are aligned with current questions under consideration by members of the community. Institutional Research and Assessment staff often mine existing data resources that inform the work of ongoing task forces, academic deans, student affairs staff, senior staff, and planning units. By listening for the topics that have caught the attention of the community, the data is more likely to be used to make positive change. In addition, Institutional Research staff members also initiate dialogue when interesting trends or results emerge from our data collection and analysis, especially when multiple sources of information begin to point at particular issues worthy of deeper consideration. Staff members invite dialogue and group reflection, and encourage engagement by the stakeholders who have the greatest power to make a difference.
Regularly collected data is often a good starting place to develop further questions and explore implications for practice. As one example, the Diversity DTF received several presentations from research staff who shared data with stakeholders who were currently engaged in studying issues of diversity. The DTF engaged in consideration of data excerpts and analyses from multiple sources of existing information, including various quantitative and narrative survey results, demographics, and other administrative data analyses. This dialogue pointed to new and deeper questions that were then analyzed for the task force. Ultimately the task force made specific recommendations to the college for areas of improvement and attention that were based in part on their engagement with research data and its own experiences.
This cycle of gathering data resources and sharing them with ongoing work groups and planning efforts is regular practice at Evergreen. It is also common for a study group to initiate its own research to fill in gaps in knowledge and explore problems in new ways. The Assessment Study Group, Transcript Review Assessment Workshops, Enrollment Growth DTF, Curricular Visions, First-year Experience DTF, and the Extended Education Advisory Committee are other recent examples of groups which received existing and special data analyses from Institutional Research and Assessment to inform their inquiry. Many of the reports and analysis processes developed for these efforts have now been adopted into ongoing practice.
Standard 2.C – Undergraduate Curriculum
The undergraduate program is designed to provide students with a substantial, coherent, and articulated exposure to the broad domains of knowledge.
The Commission encourages a tripartite structure for baccalaureate and academic or transfer associate degree programs: (1) general education requires students to master competencies for independent learning and to develop an awareness of the fundamental areas of knowledge; (2) the major requires students to achieve a knowledge base in a specific area of concentration; and (3) electives provide the opportunity for students to pursue other intellectual interests. The instructional program, as a whole, is based on a clear rationale with the component parts designed to reflect that rationale. Degree and certificate programs are characterized by clarity and order which are discernible in model curricula shown in official publications and are recorded in official student records of actual programs pursued.
Baccalaureate degree programs include a substantial core of general education instruction with identifiable outcomes and require competence in (a) written and oral communication, (b) quantitative reasoning, (c) critical analysis and logical thinking, and (d) literacy in the discourse or technology appropriate to the program of study.
In a college without departments, majors, or requirements the issue of how to organize the faculty to deliver a curriculum that has an appropriate distribution of beginning, intermediate, and advanced work, that provides disciplinary and interdisciplinary work, and supports general education while allowing both students and faculty broad autonomy is clearly central. Historically the answers have included no formal organization in the early years and multiple small interest groups (Specialty Areas) in the 1980s and early 1990s. The current structure, first developed in 1995, is organized around six planning units, first-year (Core) programs, inter-area programs, and individual contract and internship work.
Planning Units and the Curriculum
Planning in the undergraduate curriculum is organized around six major Planning Units: Scientific Inquiry (SI); Culture, Text, and Language (CTL); Expressive Arts (EA); Environmental Studies (ES); Society, Politics, Behavior, and Change (SPBC); and Evening and Weekend Studies (EWS). As seen in 2.B.1, the planning units correspond roughly to traditional divisions, but retain one explicitly inter-divisional planning unit (ES) and one based on a different schedule (EWS). (In this section we will discuss the nature and functions of planning units in the curriculum. A more detailed discussion of the current planning units’ work was presented in section 2.B.1.). The Native American, World Indigenous Peoples Center also offers programs each year and houses the Reservation-Based, Community-Determined Program that offers programs in Native communities in the western half of the state. In addition, the Tacoma Program serves upper division students in Tacoma and is discussed separately. Each planning unit is responsible for developing an entry point(s) into the program of study in the area and for providing a variety of more or less formally organized advanced work. Finally, each area is expected to contribute 20% of its teaching to Core (first-year) programs and an additional 20% to inter-area programs each year.
Faculty Membership in Planning Units
Each faculty member is affiliated with one planning unit. This affiliation usually, but not always, reflects their professional training. Faculty members can and occasionally do change their affiliation as their interests and capacities change. Planning units themselves occasionally change their focus or reorganize. Planning units select a coordinator (PUC) from among their ranks to organize and conduct meetings and coordinate with other units and with the curriculum dean. Planning units can be distinguished from departments by their lack of budget, lack of permanent assigned faculty lines, and lack of control over the hiring of new faculty. They are based on a strange amalgam of faculty autonomy and collective suasion.
Variation among Planning Units
While the formal structure of the areas is similar, the areas vary considerably in the extent to which they organize repeated offerings, the degree of demand they put on their members to teach within the area’s offerings, and the degree to which advanced work is formally identified. Each unit strikes a different and distinctive balance between disciplinary coverage and open-ended inquiry for both faculty and students. In the past few years, concerns about the role of planning units have motivated considerable discussion and debate on the campus. Questions have arisen not only about the curricular role of planning units, but their influence over hiring and their responsibility for providing seats to Core and inter-area programs (Rita Pougiales' Self-Evaluation 2007, and Curricular Visions Summary of Winter 2006 Discussions).
Planning Units, Coverage, and Pathways
The tension about what planning units should do and mean for the college exists not only within and between planning units, but also in how planning units are seen to serve the needs of faculty, students, advising staff recruitment and admissions. Planning units typically, though not always, serve as a vehicle for organizing faculty for disciplinary or divisional commitments about coverage, skill, and mastery. They help ensure that introductory, intermediate, and advanced work is present in areas of the curriculum where such distinctions are seen to be critical. There is considerable variability between planning units both in their focus on coverage and in their aspirations for student mastery of the discipline(s) involved. In some planning units, open-ended inquiry in the area’s offerings comes after considerable disciplinary work, in others such inquiry is the predominant structure of their work. Despite faculty's sense of delineated paths through the curriculum, data from student transcripts and conversations with students indicate that few students are actively aware of pathways or even the planning unit structure. This is less true in Environmental Studies and Scientific Inquiry where the bachelor of science degree requirements help guide student choices. Similarly, some student aid recipients must take care to remain on track for the BS in order to maintain eligibility for scholarships or grants they have received (including federal SMART grants). In some areas (SPBC and CTL) students would be hard pressed to name the area. To the extent students do use pathways, their diversion from them often represents the development of and focus on a particular skill or project. Thus, while student work typically does result in what students (but not the college) represent as a majors, these are often either somewhat narrower or somewhat broader than area-defined pathways.
Academic Advising sees the planning units as the source of stability in the curriculum. They value the idea of repeating programs and regular offerings. Advising uses planning units as the locus for disciplinary work in the curriculum. As major translators of the work of programs, Advising urges faculty to define areas and programs in easily accessible disciplinary language. Pathways are seen by Advising as important suggestions for students about potential ways to work their way through the curriculum. As Advising is concerned with clarity and stability in the curriculum, Admissions is concerned with the question of how to sell this curriculum to incoming students and their parents. This creates a pressure on planning units not simply to produce curriculum that is stable and transparent, but also to hire in such a way that the likelihood of marketable programs is increased. Thus pressure for hires in health and in business have emerged in part from external pressures. Despite these tensions, planning units have served since 1995 as the primary intermediate structure between the individual faculty member and the college curriculum as a whole. They are central to the process of planning both the 60% of the curriculum they directly organize and the 40% of the curriculum taught in Core and inter-area programs. An alternative approach to making the curriculum transparent and attractive has been the Fields of Study approach arising out of the Curricular Visions process. This approach is designed to allow groups of faculty to more clearly identify ongoing opportunities for study in the curriculum.
Modes of Study (An Overview)
The single most important structure for offering the curriculum is the coordinated studies program described above (2.A.9). In addition to coordinated studies programs within planning units, there are inter-area programs where faculty members from across two or more planning units come together to pursue an issue. These programs are generally substantial two- and three-quarter-long investigations whose audience is often open to students from a wide variety of backgrounds. Core programs are inter-area programs designed for first-year students. They typically are broad two- to three-quarter offerings centered on a theme or inquiry with specific support for the development of college-level skills in reading, writing, and seminar work. Several other modes of study are used to deliver the curriculum. The single faculty member program offers a specific piece of full-time study for one to three quarters. This format is usually offered for advanced disciplinary work. Half-time coordinated studies programs are the foundation of the evening and weekend program. Like full-time programs, they can be offered for one to three quarters. The evening and weekend program also offers a range of courses designed to stand on their own or to supplement other offerings. Courses in such areas as languages, mathematics, art, and writing both offer alternative vehicles for meeting program prerequisites and are used to support teaching in both arts and language programs. In addition, courses in other areas support graduate programs and part-time studies students. Individual contracts and internships round out the curriculum. Such contracts are most frequently for advanced work. Internship learning contracts are agreements between the student, an internship field supervisor, the school, and a faculty member. They are most frequently undertaken as an individual study, but may be required as a part of the work within a coordinated study or group contract. Both internship learning contracts and individual learning contracts are reviewed and signed off on by the academic deans.
First-Year Programs and Options
Freshman students at Evergreen may enter a diverse array of programs. The three most important choices available to them are Core programs, designed explicitly for freshmen, all-level programs in which a percentage, usually 25% of the seats, are reserved for freshmen, and introductory/lower division programs where as many as 50% of the seats are reserved for first-year students. All-level programs that cater to the largest numbers are often, though not always, inter-area programs that involve faculty from two or more planning units.
Core programs are almost always interdisciplinary and frequently interdivisional offerings involving two to four faculty members and often taught for two quarters or a full year. They are distinguished by slightly smaller faculty student ratio (1/23), a strong collaborative relationship with Academic Advising, and extensive support from the Writing and Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning centers as appropriate. The primary virtue of the broadly interdivisional core programs is the provision of a base from which a student may develop her college education. These programs are usually thematically organized and inquiry-based. They provide a wide ranging, often quite sophisticated, interdisciplinary perspective on contemporary and historical questions of human experience. All Core programs work to support general education and the development of skills in writing, reading, seminar participation, collaborative work more generally, and critical thinking. In many programs, quantitative reasoning, library research, creative expression, and field research skills of various sorts are supported as well.
Changes in Core and All-Level Programs
In recent years Core has shown, along with the rest of the curriculum, a tendency for narrower two-faculty-member programs. The difficulty which arises is that the breadth of the offerings usually suffers. Further, in the first years of this review period, 1997-98 and 1998-99, many and often most Core programs lasted through three full quarters. Today most programs are one or two quarters long. (Catalog 1997-98, 1998-99, 2005-06, 2006-07) For many years Core programs were the preponderant first-year experience, today, fewer than half of all first-year students get this sort of support. Indeed there has been a marked shift in terms of where first-year slots are located in the full-time curriculum. Over this period, a growing proportion of first-years enrolled in all-level program seats (programs which enroll freshmen through seniors) compared to Core programs (targeted at freshmen and new first-time, first-year students). In AY 1997-98, 71% of first-year program FTE was generated in Core programs, but by AY 2006-07, only 40% was generated in Core. Lower-division programs (which enroll freshmen and sophomores) began to appear in AY 2004-05. By AY 2006-07, lower-division programs represented 14% of all first-year program FTE.
All-level programs have become increasingly important in the first year curriculum. Many if not most of the inter-area programs have opened their work to first-year students and some areas (notably CTL) have a long history of offering all-level work. Because such programs are supposed to be attractive and available to students with quite different educational backgrounds, most programs, even when they include art or science, do not have prerequisites. Inter-area programs usually provide less systematic support for freshmen students, but offer a challenge to some of the better prepared freshman students who want to work in what is sometimes a more demanding environment. All-level programs, especially inter-area ones, can be an excellent beginning point for a student's work at the college.
Lower Division Programs
Finally, some areas have opened up lower division programs or introductory programs to allow some (often as many as half) of the students to be freshmen. The argument for this kind of work in the first year is centered on the desire that many students have to get into the subject matter that draws them to college in the first place. Again, this has significant advantages for some students in as much as they are directly challenged and engaged in material that they find important. Yet such a program may not provide the range of support for more general skills, nor does it provide the kind of inter-divisional breadth we prefer for first-year students.
Complexity and Evolution of Core Planning
Historically, Core programs have been among the broadest and most thoroughly interdisciplinary programs on campus. In theory, but not always in practice, they are supposed to occupy a priority position in the planning process. A major tension exists in the planning process between the process of planning Core programs that tend to be ad hoc in any given year and the systematic planning of many planning units that attempt to stabilize and identify curricular paths some years into the future. This tension has led to two major developments over the past ten years. First, as areas have attempted to both provide 20% of the seats taught by their faculty as freshman seats, planning units have attempted to serve both planning unit needs and freshman seat needs by moving introductory planning unit offerings into lower division work, thus opening introductory lower division offerings to large numbers of freshman students. Alternatively, areas and individual faculty members have attempted to meet their collective/personal obligation to provide freshman seats by declaring their program all-level and allocating 25% or more of their seats to freshmen without significant modification of their content. Both of these tendencies are supported by the switch some years ago from planning units being responsible for providing faculty to teach in Core to being responsible to provide 20% of the seats taught by their faculty as available to freshmen. To the extent that these programs are intra-area programs, the pool of faculty available for inter-divisional team teaching is diminished.
In recent years, recruiting faculty to teach in Core programs and creating effective social and intellectual opportunities for inter-divisional teams to emerge has been a serious issue for the college. These difficulties rest in some measure on the ambiguity of whether the obligation to teach in Core rests on individual faculty or on the planning unit. Prior to the 1995 curriculum revision, the obligation rested ambiguously, but decidedly, with the faculty. Faculty members were expected to teach Core one out of four years. Today the burden is often presumed to lie with the area and teaching in Core is seen in some areas as a scheduled assignment.
Planning a good program team is a matter of intellectual, pedagogical, and personal fit. Effective teams depend upon each other in innumerable ways. The continuous turnover in faculty over the past ten years has made developing planning and social time that underlies the possibility of making effective matches a high priority especially for newer faculty. Recruiting engaged and committed faculty teams, finding enough time to develop effective teaching themes and plans, providing opportunities to reflect on those experiences, and developing both intellectual and pedagogical skills are crucial to making teaching first-year students worthwhile and intellectually rewarding for new faculty. This, almost of necessity, requires a new core faculty recruitment and planning structure that can sustain faculty engagement with interdisciplinary issues and concerns about pedagogy for freshman students over time. The provision of paid faculty planning time in the summer has helped, but as the audience is primarily established teams, it has not made a great difference in terms of locating potential future teaching partners. (See Standard 4 for more discussion of issues around incorporating new faculty).
The movement over the past ten to fifteen years towards shorter, smaller programs and pieces of work for first-year students has allowed more exploration and often exposure to a wider array of choices. Clearly this move has made it possible for more students to find program offerings, as opposed to dropping out or taking contracts or internships in the spring quarter. But by the same token, smaller, shorter programs may have cut down on the opportunity to get to the kind of depth and familiarity with issues that allows for the complexity of reflexive thinking on the part of younger students. Certainly, the ability to plan long range complex programs is made difficult by the growing tendency to reduce teaching assignments to smaller and smaller bits, thus increasing the need for immediate short-term planning time and increasing the experienced, if not the headcount, workload of faculty. The tension between exposure to a number of faculty, disciplines, and issues on the one hand and the experience of doing a deep, often transformative piece of work on the other is a tension that has long plagued the college.
The perception of Core programs by incoming students is mixed. Core programs often are demanding and academically rigorous. Yet they are sometimes seen by incoming freshmen as less demanding than lower division or all-level programs. The attempts in Core to develop skills and to introduce the college, while appreciated and useful to some, are seen as hand-holding and dumbing down by others. To the extent that Core programs are not rigorous and demanding or to the extent that they are not matching a particular student’s interest, they are often described as boring.
Finally, fall-to-fall retention is a serious issue for the college in its first-year offerings. Matching students to their choices within first-year programs is one challenge. Ironically, as we open more choices to students the number of students getting their first choice has dropped as many of the openings in all-level, specialized, single-faculty programs and small inter-area programs may be very broadly attractive, but represent very few freshman seats.
Inter-area programs are some of the most exciting and innovative programs at the college. They draw together unique faculty teams to teach complex theme-based programs that stimulate multi-dimensional, creative, and reflexive work. Inter-area programs involve faculty from two or more planning units offering programs which deal with a theme or question, and are designed for students at upper division, sophomore and above, or all-level. By design, students typically bring a distinctly mixed background to these programs, not only in terms of years of college experience, but also in terms of specialization and interests. Inter-area programs are a primary location for the teaching of general education skills. Inter-area programs often involve faculty with quite different skills and backgrounds. Faculty often teach some aspect of these distinct capacities in the program. Thus inter-area programs along with Core were a primary location where faculty with particular skills in quantitative reasoning, mathematics, and art were able to share this information with students who typically avoided such learning. Thus between 65% and 85% of inter-area programs in the 2001-02 to 2005-06 End of Program Reviews reported some emphasis on mathematics, while 60-80% of the programs in the same period reported an emphasis on art (EPR 2001-2005 - Art and EPR 2001-2005 - Science and Math). Inter-area programs are also a place where a great deal of theme-based, inquiry-based teaching occurs, as they often invite students to engage in complex, reflective work about an issue. In recent years, inter-area programs have frequently been all-level and have, through this mechanism, contributed a very significant number of freshman seats. According to the 1995-96 Long Range Curriculum DTF Report, planning units were expected to contribute 20% of their teaching effort to both Core and inter-area programs. That goal was seldom reached between the 1997-98 AY and the 2000-01 AY, but has been the norm since that time, with the proportion of Core programs shrinking consistently (Curricular Visions_Selected Trends_97to07_update). An ongoing issue for inter-area programs is the creation of new faculty teams. There are no regularized formal mechanisms for generating inter-area teams and new faculty often feel a strong pressure to participate in the ongoing curriculum within their planning units.
Individual Study Options: Contracts and Internships
Individual contracts and internships allow students to follow their passions, define their own work, and expand their opportunities beyond the walls of the college in very important ways. Developing and negotiating a contract with faculty and with internship field supervisors forces reflection about their work and compels students to take responsibility for their own education as they move into doing advanced work. Work with faculty, though often limited, is very different and more personal compared to working in the confines of a program. These modes of learning are the ultimate mode for students taking responsibility for their own education.
Individual contracts are critical elements in the education of many students at the college. They allow for advanced work, they accommodate idiosyncratic life situations, and they provide opportunities for student initiative. Consultation with the academic deans who read and approve all contracts and internships reveals that contracts serve two very different functions. The first and most important function is as a location for students to undertake significant, usually advanced, independent research or inquiry. The second is as a stopgap measure that accommodates a student’s schedule, life circumstance, or inability to get into programs that they want or need. Typically, but not always, the former are more effective and more carefully thought through, and provide more demonstration of learning than the latter. Students may write individual contracts for two to sixteen quarter-hours credit. Usually smaller contracts supplement work in a part-time program, support language learning, or provide a small piece of prerequisite learning for admission to a future program or graduate school. In 2006-07, students and faculty wrote a total of 1279 individual learning contracts: 300 in fall, 454 in winter, and 525 in spring. These contracts generated approximately 922 FTE. Contracts and internships together generated some 1322.8 FTE during the year.
In good contracts, students define what they want to learn, demonstrate a background that allows them to deal with the project, define the activities that will help them learn, and have a plan to demonstrate that learning. Coherence between the learning objectives of the contract and the activities they undertake is central. The deans report that a significant majority of contracts are reasonably well developed and define substantial individual work that coherently defines learning objectives and the work undertaken.
Internships provide opportunities for students to gain exposure to work experience, apply lessons learned in class to the real world, and learn about the complexities, skills, and culture of a potential workplace. Internships involve a complex three-way negotiation between a student, a field supervisor at a job site, and a member of the faculty. Students work with Academic Advising and increasingly with the Center for Community-Based Learning and Action (CCBLA) to identify internships that extend their studies. The CCBLA locates work sites and provides a systematic conduit for student volunteers into community work. The center has also helped facilitate volunteer and internship activity for work within programs. In the past two years, the center has helped twenty programs set up service-learning projects within those programs and has supported more than 140 individual students in setting up community-based learning opportunities (Center for Community-Based Learning and Action Annual Report 2007). Negotiations between the student, faculty member, and field supervisor are supported by Academic Advising to identify the goals of the internship experience, the amount of credit earned, the academic work that accompanies the internship, the work undertaken, the reporting lines, and the roles of the field supervisor, faculty member and student in evaluation of the work. Students undertake internships at different points in their education. Longer, more substantial internships, such as legislative internships or work within a social service agency, are usually undertaken in the junior or senior year. Shorter internships are often directed toward community service work.
Students undertook 506 internships in the 2006-07 school year with 26% in fall, 36% in winter, and 38% in spring. In most instances, internship work constituted a portion of the student’s work, while course work and written reflection about the experience make up the balance. Internships link the college to the broader community, help students gain experience for a successful transition to work after graduation, and allow students to design important components of their education. They are an important means of linking theory to practice and are consistently popular with students. They also provide important opportunities for public service and significant engagement with public issues and political practice.
These three important modes of study – first-year, inter-area, and individual work – when combined with the divisional offerings from the planning units (see Standard 2.B.1) constitute the central structures of the college. As such, they embody the five foci and the central tensions of disciplinary work and interdisciplinary inquiry, of individual autonomy and collaborative work. They also provide a wide array of opportunities for students to engage in written and oral communication, quantitative reasoning, critical analysis and logical thinking, and literacy in the appropriate discourse or technology.
2.C.1 General Education Philosophy and Practices
The institution requires of all its degree and pre-baccalaureate programs a component of general education and/or related instruction that is published in its general catalog in clear and complete terms.
Evergreen's academic practices, structures, and expectations create a series of contexts within which the connection of disciplinary understandings to other disciplines, experiences, and understandings is seen as a necessary part of a general education. Students are, to an important degree, encouraged at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels to undertake studies that contribute to breadth as well as depth in their education. Practices such as full-time study as the preferred structure of student work, problem-centered thematic programs, interdisciplinary work, seminars as central learning spaces, workshops and small group practice are mechanisms that link the theory of the foci to student experience. The most critical practice, the one that has the most powerful impact on student experience writ large, is student autonomy.
At the center of the foci and expectations, as two articulations of the college’s ambitions for its curriculum and its students, is the individual student. The first of the expectations is to articulate and assume responsibility for your own work. Central among the foci is personal engagement with their educational experience. The student is understood in both these articulations as the central actor in their own education. The primacy of the student is most clearly and powerfully exemplified in the lack of degree requirements. 180 quarter-credit hours of anything earns you a BA at Evergreen. On the one hand, this is a terrifying recognition for faculty and administrators. Here, in one simple action, the whole apparatus of curriculum/requirements/majors/established disciplinary boundaries is relinquished into the hands of students. On the other hand, this student autonomy is the foundation of those most prized qualities of student engagement – creative independent thinking, interdisciplinary work, work across difference – for the autonomy that students face forces them to ask their own questions. As students ask these questions and work with others to understand them, they are pushed toward deeper and more complex engagement and come to see the necessity for more complex interdisciplinary critical and creative thinking.
The End-of-Program Review data provide an extensive overview of the extraordinary array of teaching practices at the college. Four critical qualities emerge from this data. (A caveat: not all programs possess all qualities, but all qualities can be found in all areas of the college.) First, teaching practices at the college are distinctly and exceptionally collaborative. At the root of this is the central notion that individual evaluation, not competitive grading, is the fundamental form of assessment. This root practice makes a huge difference in the classroom. Students are not penalized for sharing information and understanding and indeed the sharing of discoveries is the central focus of that most Evergreen of institutions, the seminar. Collaboration is built into the structured workshops used to teach everything from writing and philosophy to botany and mathematics. Small group research projects, whose audience is the program as a whole, are common. The idea that each person is responsible to the group to participate, to help build understandings, and to share what they know is fundamental to the life of programs as learning communities.
Second, teaching practices at Evergreen ask students to find ways to use the understandings they have developed in class to deepen their study and to engage issues in the world outside the classroom. Connections to the real world are built into field trips, field study, art making, internships, community service, fiction writing, laboratory research in the sciences, the composition of music, the creation of computer applications, qualitative and quantitative field research, ethnographic research, life history research, filmmaking, travel, and cultural studies. The list goes on, but the point is that learning is not just talk about acting; it is an interaction of acting and carefully reflecting.
Inquiry-based teaching practices are fundamental to much of what happens at Evergreen. Nearly all programs have a set of central questions that animate the inquiry. Here are a few from the 2007-08 Catalog.
- “What is the structure, composition, and function of a temperate rain forest? How does this relate to the ecology of other systems, land management, and the physical environment?"
- "What do chemists do? What is life exactly? What are the physical and chemical processes of life that distinguish it from ordinary matter? Are there mathematical rules that govern the formation and growth of life?"
- "This program is an inquiry into the numinous, which Rudolph Otto, amidst the turmoil of WWI, explained as a 'non-rational, non-sensory experience or feeling whose primary and immediate object is outside the self.'"
- "Have you wondered about the ways languages work? Do you think about how thoughts get translated into language?”
Within programs, students are encouraged to choose questions to answer about the texts. Often they are urged to develop major questions as independent inquiry/research papers about issues developing around the program’s themes. Students are actively taught how to use the library, computer resources, media production, writing resources, and experimentation, among other skills, as vehicles for answering questions that they pose, to find answers (or further questions) that they have a stake in.
Finally, students exercise choice. Most importantly and obviously they exercise choice over the whole structure and content of their education. But at the level of the program, and in the work undertaken in any given quarter, students exercise a wide range of choice as well. Internships, individual contracts, research projects, and supplementary classes are all major opportunities for students to fashion components of their work around their choices. Even when students only select a program, their capacity to see that program as a part of their own larger choice-driven project makes the act of taking it somewhat different from choosing to take another course towards a major in a conventional school.
These four elements then – collaboration, application, inquiry, and choice – characterize the vast array of teaching practices that translate the language of the five foci into the experiences that produce students whose educations can be characterized by the expectations and the data we have reviewed. They provide the matrix of choices and opportunities that frame the dilemma of how to put together his/her work that each student must confront. And typically they require students to develop a broad array of skills and capacities.
2.C.2 General Education Rationale
The general education component of the institution’s degree programs is based on a rationale that is clearly articulated and is published in clear and complete terms in the catalog. It provides the criteria by which the relevance of each course to the general education component is evaluated.
The basic understanding of general education at Evergreen is embedded within the Six Expectations of an Evergreen Graduate published in the catalog. Each specific program provides a descriptive overview of the issues and contents of the program including a statement of the areas where students can expect to receive credit. The rationale for taking any particular program rests on the relationship between that program’s content and the particular student’s plans and aspirations.
2.C.3 General Education Offerings
The general education program offerings include the humanities and fine arts, the natural sciences, mathematics, and the social sciences. The program may also include courses that focus on the interrelationships between these major fields of study.
The End-of-Program Review (EPR) Survey is the baseline measure of the kinds of work that are contained within programs. This survey, administered in its original form between AY 2001-02 and 2005-06, and in a somewhat modified form in 2006-07, allows the college to see within programs the various components and elements that constitute the work of the program. The revision of the instrument in the summer of 2006 was the result of a major assessment of the EPR data carried out by faculty and staff during a weeklong assessment workshop hosted by Institutional Research and Assessment. The new survey clarifies categories and facilitates both ease of response and comparability of data (EPR 2001-2005 - Summary of Response Rates). The response rate to the survey has grown over the years and showed a marked increase to 82% with the new survey in 2006-07. The data presented here provides an overview of how Evergreen programs incorporate various general education elements. The detailed survey results provide considerable insight into the extraordinary array of activities in each of these areas. For this information, see especially charts labeled EPR 2006-07 – Name of Planning Unit Overview.
Comments on the distribution of general education across the curriculum will focus on the most recent data (2006-07) and note significant trends from the 2001-2005 data. In general, the data show that general education is distributed across all sectors of the college and exposure to general education is available in all areas and inescapable in many. Data from the EPR refers to activities in programs. In addition, significant amounts of student work occur in individual contracts, internships, and courses. A major opportunity for advanced work occurred in research projects with faculty or in Student Originated Studies clusters.
Note: The percentages reported in this document reflect a recognition that, given the original modes of computing the percentage in the 2003 report (number of programs reporting activity X/ number of programs in the curriculum), apparent trends in the data could simply reflect growth in the response rate. Thus the current data is computed as follows (Number of Programs Reporting Activity X/ Number of Programs Reporting) in order to keep sample size from distorting results.
Two-thirds of all reporting programs indicated an emphasis on art. Art was especially well represented in Expressive Arts, Culture Text, and Language; Inter-Area; Tribal; and Environmental Studies (see EPR 2001-2005 - Art; EPR 2006-07 - Art Overview; EPR 2006-07 - Art by Planning Unit; Art Across the Curriculum; and Art, A Supplement). Approximately 35% of these programs indicated an extensive or moderate teaching of art. Art was taught at all levels with a preponderance of introductory teaching. In addition, there were sixty-four different two- to four-credit art courses taught during 2006-07, which compares to forty art courses in 2000-01, before the implementation of the new general education initiatives (Courses by General Education Divisions). Faculty in Expressive Arts taught 204 individual contracts and fifty-nine internships (Curriculum Enrollment Detail AY 2006-07 ). Expressive Arts organizes students into Student Originated Studies (SOS) groups in Media, Music, Performance, and Visual Arts. An average of 50.1 student FTE are generated each quarter through Student Originated Studies in the arts (Curriculum Enrollment Detail AY 2006-07).
Science and Mathematics
In the 2001-2005 data, mathematics and science were surveyed together. Over this period, the proportion of programs indicating an emphasis on mathematics or science grew from 55% in 2001-02 to 70% in 2005-06. Both Scientific Inquiry and Environmental Studies reported that 100% of their programs included science or mathematics. Core programs over the period ranged between 67% of programs to 100% of programs including mathematics or sciences. Similarly inter-area programs reported a low of 64% and a high of 86% with some emphasis on mathematics and/or science (EPR 2001-2005 - Science and Math).
In this same period, 2001-2005, programs were asked to report on the use of quantitative reasoning in programs. A high of 74% of all programs reporting indicated an emphasis on quantitative reasoning in 2001-02, and a low of 59% of programs reported an emphasis on quantitative reasoning in 2004-05. Scientific Inquiry; Environmental Studies; and Society, Politics, Behavior, and Change areas reported relatively strong emphasis on quantitative reasoning (EPR 2001-2005 - Quantitative Reasoning). For a discussion of the variety of ways in which quantitative reasoning was used in programs, and the confusion that arose in the survey between mathematics and quantitative reasoning, see (Quantitative Reasoning Across the Curriculum and Quantitative Reasoning, A Supplement).
The 2006-07 EPR survey disaggregated science and mathematics. Under this structure, 53% of programs reported an emphasis on science. Science was particularly strong in Environmental Studies where 100% of programs reported teaching science extensively and in Scientific Inquiry where 88% reported some science (the other programs were in mathematics and computer science). In comparison, 56% of Core and 52% of inter-area programs reported an emphasis on science (EPR 2006-07 - Natural and Physical Sciences Overview EPR 2006-07 - Natural and Physical Sciences by Planning Unit). In addition there were thirty-five different courses in natural, physical, and computer sciences taught during the 2006-07. This compares to only twenty different science courses in 2000-01, when the general education initiatives were adopted by faculty (Courses by General Education Divisions).
In 2006-07, 58% of all programs reporting indicated an emphasis on mathematics. Both Scientific Inquiry and Environmental Studies reported 100% of programs with an emphasis on mathematics, although math was much more extensively used as a part of SI teaching. Core and inter-area programs both reported 67% of their programs had an emphasis on mathematics. SPBC reported 63% of programs with an emphasis on mathematics (EPR 2006-07 - Math Overview, EPR 2006-07 - Math by Planning Unit). In addition, there were ten different mathematics courses taught in 2006-07, compared to only six math courses taught in 2000-01 (Courses by General Education Divisions).
Faculty in Scientific Inquiry and Environmental Studies taught 211 contracts and one hundred internships over the course of 2006-07. Additional undergraduate research opportunities with faculty are provided through Advanced Research in Environmental Studies, which generated an average of 6.3 student FTE each quarter of 2006-07. Scientific Inquiry offers close faculty-student applied research opportunities through Undergraduate Research in SI which generated 13.1 FTE per quarter in 2006-07 (Curriculum Enrollment Detail AY 2006-07).
In all, 89% of programs reporting indicated an emphasis on humanities. Of those programs, more than 70% indicated that they taught humanities moderately or extensively. In Core; Culture, Text, and Language; and Expressive Arts, 100% of programs indicated an emphasis on humanities. The lowest score was 73% for environmental studies. Clearly the use of humanities as basic vehicle for engaging students and linking program elements is widespread (EPR 2006-07 - Humanities Overview. EPR 2006-07 - Humanities by Planning Unit). Data from 2001-02 to 2005-06 demonstrate the ubiquity of humanities at Evergreen (EPR 2001-2005 - Humanities; Humanities Across the Curriculum). In addition, faculty in Culture, Text, and, Language sponsored some 266 individual learning contracts, and ninety-two internships (Curriculum Enrollment Detail AY 2006-07). There were sixty-one different courses in the humanities taught during 2006-07. This divisional area has seen the greatest growth in the number of courses since the implementation of new general education initiatives. Only twenty-nine different humanities courses were offered in 2000-01, the year before the credit limit was increased, the six expectations were adopted, and the Writing Center was enhanced (Courses by General Education Divisions).
In 2006-07, 77% of all programs reporting indicated an emphasis on social sciences. Data for the 2001-2005 period range between 74% and 88% of programs reporting this emphasis (EPR 2001-2005 - Social Sciences). Social sciences were particularly significant in Core programs, inter-area programs, EWS programs, and, of course, in Society, Politics, Behavior, and Change offerings. Significant amounts of social sciences were included in Culture, Text, and Language programs and in Environmental Studies. Social sciences were taught at all levels with a preponderance at the beginning and intermediate level. Faculty reported that 36.4% of all programs, 44.4% of Core programs, and 47.6% of inter-area programs used social science extensively within the program. Clearly, like the humanities, social sciences are widespread in the curriculum. And again like humanities, social sciences served an important role in pulling together inter-divisional work (EPR 2006-07 - Social Sciences Overview EPR 2006-07 - Social Sciences by Planning Unit; Social Science Across the Curriculum). The Society, Politics, Behavior, and Change planning unit sponsored some 212 contracts and ninety-one internship opportunities over the course of the year (Curriculum Enrollment Detail AY 2006-07). In addition, there were sixty different courses in social sciences taught during academic year 2006-07, a strong increase from the thirty-five different courses taught in 2000-01 (Courses by General Education Divisions).
Information Technology Literacy (ITL)
In the 2006-07 EPR, 100% of programs reported writing as an emphasis. The figure was nearly 100% in the 2001-05 period as well. Nearly 52% reported extensive use of writing and an additional 41.5 % reported moderate use. Only 5.9% reported a small amount of writing. Culture, Text, and Language was the one area where all programs reported using writing extensively. Yet the fact that 50% or more of Core, Environmental Studies, inter-area, and EWS programs reported using extensive writing is an indication of the ubiquity of the effort (EPR 2006-07 - Writing Overview). Programs were asked specifically about writing instruction as opposed to simply requiring writing. In all, 63.5% reported extensive or moderate amounts of instruction and only 5.9% provided no instruction. The writing report provides a complex overview of writing effort (EPR 2006-07 - Writing by Planning Unit). The 2001-05 data illustrate the ubiquity of writing in the curriculum over the years, but have less detail (Writing Across the Curriculum - by Jeanne Hahn; Writing Across the Curriculum - by Sandy Yannone; EPR 2001-2005 - Writing). The college has a Writing Center open to all students for help with a wide variety of writing projects, from essays and research papers to academic journals and fiction. The center uses a tutor-based model and provides training in writing instruction to tutors in the center. The center works with programs, especially Core programs, to develop workshops, and to provide dedicated writing support. The center also works with faculty to help develop pedagogical skills in support of the college's writing across the curriculum model (Writing Center Report for Self-Study 2008; READING TO WRITE: Attuning College Freshmen to a Literate Life; Writing Assessment Prompt for Beginning The Journey 2007; Introductory Letter for Writing Assessment; Writing Center Contacts by Year).
100% of programs reporting indicated an emphasis on critical thinking in the 2006-07 EPR. This number continues a trend that has persisted since 2001. However, as a result of the work in the summer of 2006 reviewing the claims and understandings of critical thinking by different planning units, a much more complex understanding of the meaning of critical thinking and its relationship to learning in different areas of the curriculum emerges from the much more detailed data in the 2006-07 survey (Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum; EPR 2001-2005 - Critical Thinking; EPR 2006-07 - Critical Thinking Overview EPR 2006-07 - Critical Thinking by Planning Unit). The new data is based on identifying specific intellectual activities: analysis, synthesis, judgment, argument, problem solving, and diverse perspectives. These more specific characteristics illustrate both differences in emphasis among the planning units and the extent to which Core and inter-area programs stress teaching about various modes of critical thinking within the programs (EPR 2006-07 - Critical Thinking by Planning Unit).
Oppression, Privilege, and Difference
The college's concern for issues of oppression, privilege, and difference is reflected in its concern for diversity and equity in the strategic plan and foci. EPR data are helpful as the college moves to increase diversity experiences and improve climate around diversity. The college started measuring this in the 2004-05 school year. The 2004-05 and 2005-06 data reveal that 74% and 75% of programs reporting indicated some emphasis on addressing oppression (EPR 2001-2005 - Addressing Diversity and Oppression). All programmatic areas with the exception of Environmental Studies (ES) and Scientific Inquiry (SI) reported more than 70% of their programs had some emphasis on this set of issues. The 2006-07 survey, which has more compete data, reports 83% of all programs reporting some emphasis. With the exception of SI, more than 70% of reported programs in each unit offered some work in this area. In Core programs, Expressive Arts (EA), Society, Politics, Behavior, and Change (SPBC), and the Tribal Reservation-Based program, 100% of programs reporting showed some work in this area. Interestingly, the areas showing the most extensive attention were Core programs, CTL, and inter-area programs. In SPBC and the Tribal program, more than 65% of programs incorporated extensive or moderate teaching of these materials. Significantly, both Core and inter-area programs found this a fertile area for developing program themes and activities. Work in all areas dealt with a wide variety of subjects and spoke not simply to issues of gender, race, culture, and ethnicity, but also to ability, class, and status (EPR 2006-07 - Diversity, Difference, Privilege, and Oppression Overview; EPR 2006-07 - Diversity, Difference, Privilege, and Oppression by Planning Unit).
Opportunities for Advanced Work
Advanced work at Evergreen, like general education, can occur at many different stages in a student’s career. Although the particular activities, skills, analytic work, papers, productions, and projects that constitute advanced work vary considerably from area to area and instructor to instructor, given the full-time structure of work at the college, it is possible for some students to do very sophisticated work at any level of the curriculum. The 2001-2005 EPR data showed approximately 80% of programs reporting identified “Opportunities for Advanced Work.” While most of these programs would identify possibilities for beginning or intermediate work as well, the percentage of advanced work is extraordinarily high. The reviewers of these responses suggested that the ambiguity about what constitutes “advanced work” and what, indeed, constitutes an “opportunity” was sufficient to warrant a different approach to the issue (EPR 2001-2005 - Advanced Work, Advanced Work Across the Curriculum Advanced Work, A Supplement).
In the 2006-07 survey, respondents were asked to identify the presence of specific types of work in their programs and report the level as introductory, intermediate, or advanced. Of the forty-one programs identifying themselves as doing work in the sciences, 27.4% reported advanced work. Of the forty-nine programs identifying themselves as doing mathematics, 20.6% reported advanced work. In social sciences, 22% of fifty-eight programs identified advanced work. In humanities, 28.6% of fifty-nine programs identified advanced work. And finally, in art, 11.5% of the fifty-three programs identified advanced work. Many programs identified teaching a subject or skill at two or even three different levels (EPR 2006-07 - Art Overview, EPR 2006-07 - Humanities Overview, EPR 2006-07 - Natural and Physical Sciences Overview, EPR 2006-07 - Social Sciences Overview, EPR 2006-07 - Math Overview).
2.C.4 Credit Policy
The institution’s policies for the transfer and acceptance of credit are clearly articulated. In accepting transfer credits to fulfill degree requirements, the institution ensures that the credits accepted are comparable to its own courses. Where patterns of transfer from other institutions are established, efforts to formulate articulation agreements are demonstrated.
Transfer policies, acceptance of credit policies, and articulation agreements are described in full in section 3.C.4.
2.C.5 Academic Advising
The institution designs and maintains effective academic advising programs to meet student needs for information and advice, and adequately informs and prepares faculty and other personnel responsible for the advising function.
Academic Advising Support for Students
Academic advising at Evergreen is complex and multi-leveled. Evergreen students are free to fashion their own education from the wide variety of structures made available: programs of all durations, part-time programs, courses, individual contracts, and internships of all sizes. Their choices are formally guided only by the entrance requirements that faculty create for their programs and by the procedural and intellectual agreements necessary to create contracts and internships. The Evergreen faculty – in its various planning units, inter-area, and Core programs – annually recreates the curriculum, devising new program ideas, reorganizing the content and coverage offered under repeating titles, and offering work at a variety of levels of sophistication. While curricular pathways and repeating programs provide significant structure in some areas of the curriculum, other programs, especially Core and inter-area programs, are unique creations of given groups of faculty members. It is within this complex context that advising at Evergreen occurs. Advising then, if it is to work well, functions on at least two important levels. The first is figuring out what questions, issues, and ideas the student takes to be his or her work. The second is to create a strategy that will allow the student to accomplish this work. This process should be iterative, allowing the basic questions and strategy to be revisited regularly.
Central to Evergreen is the idea that its students should understand the primary function of college as finding their own work. The concept is that students can and often do know what they want to know, what they want to be, and how they want to accomplish their goals. The faculty's role is to help students pursue their work through their own initiative and collaboration with faculty and other students. Nearly 77% of new transfer students and 53% of new first-year students expressed a desire to focus on a particular field or discipline. Another 39.8% and 18.5% didn’t know (Evergreen New Student Survey 2005 – Do you plan to focus). Students gradually come to a more sophisticated understanding of their work and its place. It is this freedom, this chance to make their own way, that often attracts students to Evergreen. In this context, advising has two functions. First, it helps students develop a judgment about what their work is. Second, advising helps students identify the possible options – programs, internships, contracts, subjects, and skills – that might help the students engage with their work.
As was discussed in Section 2.A.9 under Narrative Evaluations, the narrative evaluation process has a major component of reflection and assessment built into it. The evaluation conference, with its review of faculty and student evaluations and assessment of students’ growth and learning, is the primary location where faculty members interact with students around their intellectual development and, often, their plans. Faculty members can draw upon their own familiarity with the curriculum, the pathways identified in the catalog, the planning unit structure, their work with and knowledge of their colleagues, and, of course, their knowledge of the student’s work and capacities, to help shape general ideas about possible future plans. The catalog in particular is carefully reconsidered annually at the "catalog summit," and is indexed in a variety of ways to allow students to see how many programs can contribute to their education. Planning units put significant effort over the past few years into identifying pathways (see Standard 2.C.3). The Olympia undergraduate catalog has recently been transitioned into a database that allows for complex searches. While these steps are important, work needs to continue to familiarize faculty, staff advisers, and students with these resources.
Historically, the college shaped student choices through two crucial features of the curriculum. First, most programs were offered full-time for a year. These programs have provided significant blocks of study around coherent subject and/or project/thematic work that have, in yearlong versions, structured students’ work in ways similar to a major. Student autonomy then arose in the context of large-scale, long-term choices among full-time offerings. Thus, each year’s work provided substantive structure for student choices.
The second device derives from the first. Working closely with students full-time over the course of a year can create a substantive intellectual bond between students and faculty. It can also create real knowledge about the student and his/her capacity, interests, and plans and can then, in the evaluation process, lead to real opportunities to help students think about their work and their future educational choices on the basis of this shared knowledge.
Today, while Evergreen faculty members still have considerably closer ties to their students than faculty at most colleges (NSSE Trends, Highlights, and Accountability Performance Indicators 2001-2007), students and faculty generally have a more abbreviated relationship than they have in the past. Faculty/student ratio is not 1-17 as it was in the first years of the college. Many programs are two quarters or often one quarter long. The average team size is two. Many students enroll in part-time evening studies rather than full-time day programs. Many students in full-time programs opt to take an additional two to four credits. And yearlong programs are no longer the norm. There are, simply put, many more choices and pieces of curriculum to know and choose. The college has lost some of the structure that supported the capacity to know students well and provide strong advice.
Kinds of Faculty Advice
Yet the quarter-by-quarter process of evaluation and assessment of student work by faculty and students still provides a natural ground for advising. The EPR data found that advising happened in all sorts of ways within programs. Much of the advice had to do with work within programs – the development of skills. Less frequently but significantly, advice had to do with program choice or graduate or career goals. However, advising of a deeper sort – for example, the students’ educational choices and academic learning in the context of a life/career plan – was not frequent (Advising Across the Curriculum). Faculty expressed a willingness to advise their students, but put the onus of making the choice to seek advice on the student. One other important location of faculty advising is the Academic Fair held a few weeks prior to the beginning of each quarter. These sessions allow a student to meet faculty and check out the syllabus, logistics, and personnel of a small range of program choices. However, these informational sessions are too busy and chaotic for long-term advising work. Clearly, some very good advice and some good planning happens, but the report concludes there are no systematic, robust, ongoing conversations with the student population in general about their plans and goals, and no written plan.
In summer institutes and planning workshops throughout the self-study period, faculty worked with their program teams to fold advising into the structure of programs with some important success. Practices such as early meetings with first-year students, fifth-week conferences, and the integration of advising faculty into Core and some all-level program activities were widely accepted. In the 2006 summer institutes, faculty focused on developing advising that supported student planning. Faculty in these workshops seemed willing to accept major responsibility for advising work. As in the years immediately after the General Education DTF however, these often-successful experiments with intensifying awareness and the practice of advising did not automatically carry over into succeeding years. They were too sporadic and unsystematic to consistently help students map their course.
Overall, students are happy with faculty advice. In surveys of both current students and alumni 85% indicate that they were satisfied with academic advice from faculty (Evergreen Student Experience Survey 2006 – Satisfaction of Olympia Campus Students and Alumni Survey 2006). The issue, however, is whether they are satisfied with immediate ad hoc advice regarding in-program activities (e.g. comments on papers, suggestions regarding projects, and the like), intermediate-term advice on program choice, or longer-term, big-picture, planning regarding careers, broad expectations of an Evergreen graduate, or broad scale reflection on their work. The EPR data tend to support the view that advice from faculty in general tends to be short- to intermediate-term advice. Finally, when students in the 2002 and 2004 alumni surveys were asked what one or two things they would change about Evergreen, 16% in 2002 and 12% in 2004 identified advising and guidance, making this one of the top five issues noted.
Students commented on the need for more advising and guidance early on at Evergreen. They were interested in more career and graduate school advice. Several freshman, transfers, and older returning students commented on feeling lost and felt that required meetings with advisors on a regular basis would have helped. Some of course had the honesty to say that they might well have resisted advice when it was offered. Some in both years really wanted to be pushed by their faculty to pursue specific academic territory as a part of their work (Alumni Survey 2004 and Alumni Survey 2002).
Student Services: Academic Advising
Student and Academic Support Services provides a substantial professional academic advising service. This service is described in Standard 3.D.10 of this report. The Academic Advising office is just one of the student service offices where advising occurs. Academic advising is also a prominent piece of the services provided by KEY Student Services for first-generation and low-income students and those with disabilities, First Peoples’ Advising Services, the Career Development Center (Standard 3.D.11), and Access Services for students with disabilities. All of these offices help students think broadly about their education and identify opportunities for study through program offerings, courses, internships, and individual contracts. As a fundamental resource for students and faculty, the college publishes an annual catalog of programs and courses and maintains a constantly updated online catalog. As of the 2008-09 school year, the online catalog will be fully searchable. Within Academic Advising, counselors participate in a variety of professional and institution-specific trainings, develop contacts and connections to faculty throughout the curriculum, and work alongside faculty members who rotate into the Academic Advising office on an annual basis.
According to surveys of alumni, all students use Academic Advising services at some point in their education. Both the proportion of students reporting satisfaction and the proportion of students using academic advising appears to have slipped in recent years.
|% Used Academic Advising Office||86%||71%||74%|
|% of Users Dissatisfied||24%||20%||34%|
|% of Users Satisfied||76%||80%||66%|
More Structured Advising
In the 2001 response to the Commission’s concerns about general education, the college undertook to establish an advising system that would require a long-term advising plan for each student and a required annual meeting with faculty or advising staff to update the plan (see General Education at Evergreen). While faculty voted in favor of this plan, due to changing personnel and a failure of follow through, the required plan never was put into effect. It is clearly time to revisit this issue and rethink how best to provide long-range planning support that maintains student autonomy and choice. Implementing this initiative, of course, will significantly impact faculty workload and Student Affairs staffing needs. Student Affairs staff will not be able to provide these services on their own. Active faculty advising will be required.
2.C.6 Developmental Work Admission Policy
Whenever developmental or remedial work is required for admission to the institution or any of its programs, clear policies govern the procedures that are followed, including such matters as ability to benefit, permissible student load, and granting of credit. When such courses are granted credit, students are informed of the institution’s policy of whether or not the credits apply toward a degree.
The college does not offer admission contingent on the completion of remedial work.
2.C.7 Adequacy of Faculty
The institution’s faculty is adequate for the educational levels offered, including full-time faculty representing each field in which it offers major work.
The institution’s faculty is adequate in number and highly skilled in teaching. A description of the faculty, its capacities, and qualifications is provided in Standard 4 of this report. For an overview of faculty qualifications and their assignment to planning units, please consult the college’s catalog.
2.C.8 No Pre-baccalaureate Programs
In an effort to further establish an institution’s success with respect to student achievement, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities shall require those institutions that offer pre-baccalaureate vocational programs to track State licensing examination pass rates, as applicable, and job placement rates.
Evergreen does not offer such programs.
Standards 2.D, 2.E., 2.F. – Graduate Programs
Evergreen currently offers three graduate programs: a Master of Environmental Studies (MES), a Master in Teaching (MIT), and a Master of Public Administration (MPA). In addition, the college offers a joint MES/MPA degree. Within the MPA program, the college supports public policy, nonprofit and public administration, and tribal governance tracks. The MIT program supports certification at the elementary, middle and high school levels in a wide variety of disciplines. The MES program offers a yearlong core sequence that includes work in both natural and social sciences, a variety of elective courses and a thesis. In early 2008, the college established a Master of Education (M.Ed.) program for currently certificated teachers. Evergreen is not authorized to offer a Ph.D. program.
All of these programs actively support Evergreen’s mission as a public, interdisciplinary liberal arts college. In the approaches to the professional areas the programs cover, faculty in these areas have created an interdisciplinary pedagogy that stresses theoretical and applied work, teaching across significant differences, and individual and collaborative effort. Each of the programs has found creative ways to include coverage of important disciplinary and professional subject matter while incorporating important innovations in pedagogy. The graduate programs have been developed to respond to the clear need for public school teachers, environmental specialists, and professional administrators in Washington generally and in the Olympia area in particular.
The three programs are described in their annual reports, self-studies, or certification documents. The mission statement and/or catalog of each describes the program's educational objectives and the expectations of students. All of the graduate programs report to the provost.
Evergreen does not have a separate graduate faculty. Although some faculty are hired specifically for master's-level teaching, all faculty rotate into the undergraduate curriculum as well, and faculty who teach in the undergraduate curriculum have an opportunity to teach in appropriate graduate programs. In addition to their teaching, faculty members in the graduate programs are expected to undertake significant research or community service work. This work is designed to provide a way for faculty to keep pace with developing issues and methods in their fields. Each master's program provides appropriate support for faculty and students.
All three graduate programs are located on campus. Each program has published its admissions policies and guidelines, and admissions are based on formal applications. Graduate faculty have designed admissions policies, application procedures and separate graduate catalogs.
Master of Public Administration
Overview. The Master of Public Administration program was founded in 1980 to meet the needs of the many government workers residing and working in Olympia, Washington. The mission of the MPA, adopted in 2003, is:
"Our students, faculty and staff create learning communities to explore and implement socially just, democratic public service. We:
- think critically and creatively;
- communicate effectively;
- work collaboratively;
- embrace diversity;
- value fairness and equity;
- advocate powerfully on behalf of the public; and,
- imagine new possibilities and accomplish positive change in our workplaces and in our communities."
The MPA program serves as a vehicle for the college’s mission and commitment to a meaningful public liberal arts education. Educating and training future public leaders embodies Evergreen’s commitment to responsible social change. The MPA program also strengthens the college’s town/gown relationships, and represents the college in regional communities and in local, regional, and state governmental entities. Our Tribal Governance MPA is the only MPA of this kind in the country and serves a significant need to prepare indigenous peoples to govern and sustain their tribal communities.
The work of the program is actively linked to many of the core initiatives or values of the college including promoting democracy, social justice, and sustainability.
The MPA program reflects and practices Evergreen's six expectations and five foci. Critical thinking and collaboration are encouraged at all levels of the program. Students are both personally and professionally engaged in their learning and in the learning community. Theory to practice (and vice versa) is at the heart the program and many classroom assignments are focused on applied action in communities, agencies, and organizations. Students and faculty in the MPA program teach and learn across significant differences, both in terms of classroom diversity and in terms of diverse responses to public problems and issues. In 2003, the program adopted Mahatma Gandhi’s statement as its tagline: “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Faculty and students (as measured by classroom performance and through assessment) agree that the educational environment encourages students to work, with passion, toward positive public and social change.
There are more than 700 Evergreen MPA graduates, hundreds of whom are living and working in the region, serving communities through their pursuit of better governance processes and procedures.
Change in the Past Five Years and Overview of the Curriculum.
In 2002, the program implemented a major redesign, the first since the program was founded. The program needed to meet the increasingly diversified needs of a student population that had expanded significantly to include state, local/regional, and tribal governments as well as nonprofit organizations.
The re-visioning suggested students needed more choice and flexibility in their studies. The redesign included significant curriculum changes that make it easier for students to pursue the program at their own pace and established three concentrations: public and nonprofit administration, public policy; and tribal governance (a separate cohort of students). In 2006, the MPA program partnered with the Master of Environmental Studies (MES) program to matriculate the first joint MES/MPA degree students.
The course of study in all MPA concentrations requires sixty quarter-hours of academic work (for more detail, see the MPA catalog). All students participate in a twenty-six quarter-hour core, taught over two years, covering what the faculty consider to be the essential foundational knowledge of an Evergreen MPA. Core programs are team-taught in interdisciplinary or inter-field teams, in learning communities. Students complete the program by participating in a four credit-hour capstone experience which, in addition to reflection and integration, also includes developing a demonstration project that puts theory and experience to work in an applied setting, working on an applied problem or situation.
There are three concentrations through which the students can study beyond the core classes:
Public and Nonprofit Administration: students select thirty quarter-hours of elective coursework that covers the critical elements of administration—budgeting, strategic planning, human resources and information systems, public law, leadership and ethics, multicultural competencies, and more—as well as the unique nature and needs of nonprofit and government organizations.
Public Policy: students prepare for work as policy analysts, budget analysts, or evaluators. Students in this concentration complete two public policy concentration courses (Foundations of Public Policy and Advanced Research Methods), plus twenty-two quarter-hours of elective work in specific policy areas.
The Tribal Governance concentration develops administrators who work in both tribal governments and public agencies to further the development of tribes in the Pacific Northwest. Students in the tribal concentration move through the program as a cohort over a two-year period and complete twenty quarter-hours of required Tribal concentration courses and ten quarter-hours of electives.
In the late 1990s, Northwest tribal leaders approached Evergreen’s MPA program with a vision to combine broad principles of public administration with the specialized knowledge necessary to work within tribal governance and in public and nonprofit agencies that work closely with tribes. In 2002, the MPA program admitted its first tribal cohort. The program accepts up to thirty students every other year to study in this unique program, specializing in contemporary tribal governance subject areas. Concentration courses include sovereignty, intergovernmental relations, tribal organization and structure, reservation economies, and policy for tribal governments.
The three cohorts of students (2002; 2004; 2006) have included people from all around the Puget Sound, as well as students from as far away as Gila River/Maricopa, Aleut, Apache, Tlingit, Lakota, Taos Pueblo, Wichita, Turtle Mountain, Hawaii, and the Philippines. The range of tribal backgrounds adds to the quality and depth of the class discussions. Graduates of the Tribal Governance concentration are working in tribal governments, and in liaison roles in other agencies, throughout the region.
Recently, Douglas Luckerman, a nationally prominent attorney working in national tribal law sat in on an MPA Tribal Governance class and had this to say after his visit:
“Providing an academic setting for tribal administrators and elected officials to have an opportunity to think about the complex matters that face tribal governments and communities outside of the day to day pressures of work or Tribal Council demands and have them share insights on how to approach these challenges allows the students to acquire some critical tools needed for success in today's world. This type of educational opportunity is a necessary step in building strong tribal governments and communities that can meet the challenges of the 21st century. I was impressed with the program, the faculty, and the students.”
The MPA program is serving more students than ever. In AY 2000-01, the program served, on average, 56.7 FTEs (target = 55); in AY 2006-07, the program served, on average, 95.5 FTEs (target = 80) (For more detail, see the MPA enrollment data at: Enrollment History for Master of Public Administration). In addition, the MPA program has been successively serving more students (matriculated MPA students, graduate special students, other graduate students, and undergraduates) since fall 2002. In fall 2006, the program served 133 students, compared to 66 students in fall 2002. More information can be found in our annual reports (2003-04, 2004-05, 2006-07).
The redesigned MPA program meets the needs of students by giving them greater choice not only in the concentration areas, but also in the length of time to complete the program. Some students choose to complete the program within two years, while others may choose three to five years. To meet the needs of working students, classes meet in the evening, on Saturdays, and in intensive weekend formats.
Students are satisfied with their educational experiences: 94% of student respondents in a spring 2007 survey indicated they were either very satisfied (42%) or satisfied (52%) with their overall experiences in the MPA program (MPA 2007 Student Data). Most students indicated that their capabilities in mission-related areas have been enhanced to a great or moderate extent. Consistent with past patterns, program strengths seem to be in the following mission areas (as measured by 85% or more responding either “great” or “moderate”): thinking critically, communicating effectively, working collaboratively, thinking creatively, and advocating for the public (MPA Mission Data).
In 2007, students indicated that there is some room for improvement in the following mission areas (81% or below “great” or “moderate”): imagining new possibilities, accomplishing positive change, valuing fairness and equity, and embracing diversity.
Alumni data are consistent with student evaluation data indicating that the program is teaching teamwork/collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and analytical skills. (See The Final Report from the Core 2 research team and The Kathy Corey Stephen Powerpoint Presentation.)
Alumni are also satisfied with their experiences, with a statistically significant difference in satisfaction between those who graduated before the redesign and those who graduated after. Those who graduated after the redesign are slightly more satisfied and are more likely to recommend the program to others.
Anecdotal data indicate that employers like Evergreen MPA graduates because they know how to think and communicate, they have strong analytical skills that can transfer to a variety of situations, and they put their critical faculties to work toward positive change in their work and in their communities. Evergreen MPA graduates do not shrink from hard work, have the capacity to take positive risks, and are not afraid of change.
MPA Faculty and Staff and Related Resources (Standard 2.E)
The MPA program is staffed by a half-time director (who also teaches half-time) and two full-time assistant directors (MPA assistant director and TMPA assistant director). The director position is a rotational position, typically held by a faculty member who regularly teaches in the MPA program. The director is typically contracted for a three-to-four year term.
The MPA program receives a sufficient budget each year to pay staff salaries, employ student assistants (graduate assistant to support staff/director and writing assistant to support students), and fund administrative, classroom, and program activities (MPA Budget 2007-2008).
The MPA program has access to, and use of, all necessary classrooms as well as library, media and computing facilities (including statistical software licensed throughout the college and in one easy to access computer lab). Our library capacities have significantly improved with electronic search databases and regional inter-library loan systems. Our students and faculty can get most, if not all, of their graduate-level research needs met through our library (this was not the case in the past when students sometimes had to travel to other universities to access appropriate library resources). A resource room for graduate students, including computers for their exclusive use, is located in the graduate studies area (third floor of Lab I). Many faculty members also have their offices in this area, along with staff, which promotes programmatic collegiality and ease of administration. These facilities, save the graduate student resource room, are in common with the rest of the college and are more than adequate to run the program.
To date, six continuing faculty members who hold terminal degrees in public administration or related fields regularly teach in the MPA program (vitae for Amy Gould, Bruce Davies, Larry Geri, Nita Rinehart, Cheryl Simrell King, Linda Moon Stumpff are available in hard copy through the Provost's Office). In addition, for the past few years the program has been consistently staffed with longer-term visiting faculty who are also trained in the field (Nita Rinehart and Russ Lehman, among others) and many qualified practitioner-adjuncts. The college does not hire faculty to specific programs; all faculty members are hired to the college.
Faculty who regularly teach in the MPA program usually teach in MPA for two to three years and then rotate out into other curricular or administrative areas of the college for one to two years, returning to MPA at the end of their rotation. MPA faculty also often serve in administrative posts at the college (the provost regularly taught in the MPA program before be became dean and then provost). Rotations, illness, sabbaticals, and leaves without pay all challenge our ability to ensure that most courses in MPA are taught by continuing faculty who hold terminal degrees in an administrative or policy discipline/field. In addition, every year since the redesign, the program has consistently relied upon at least 1.5 visitors to offer the curriculum, and numerous adjunct faculty. The MPA program is in significant need of additional continuing faculty members; college administration is aware of this and, yet, is hard pressed to help MPA boost their faculty base, given all other college-wide demands for resources. Nonetheless, the continued success of the program depends on a solid base of continuing faculty members and several continuing faculty hires must be made in the next two years.
MPA Graduate Records and Academic Credit (Standard 2.F)
The MPA program is governed and administered by the MPA faculty/staff team, who meet regularly to address issues of strategy and policy. The faculty and staff of the MPA program, with record-keeping assistance from Admissions, administer their own admissions. The admissions policies and procedures are completely spelled out in the MPA Catalog and Student Handbook. Admissions processes are managed by the staff, and MPA faculty teams (not staff), in concert with the director, make admissions decisions. Yearly, faculty re-evaluate mission criteria and processes and revise as needed, based upon experiences in previous years.
The Student Handbook, which is also revised and reviewed annually, clearly states all graduation criteria, transfer credit policies (the director makes transfer credit decisions), internship and individual studies policies and procedures. Students receive academic advising from faculty members and the assistant directors work very closely with students on non-academic student issues (financial aid, credits, prerequisites, etc.). Every new cohort attends a daylong orientation session to help ground them in their program. The orientation is organized and implemented by the staff and first-year core faculty team.
Strategic Goals: Now that a structure exists that works well for students, the MPA faculty believe it is time to ensure the curriculum meets the program mission and that what gets taught, with room for variance, is a curriculum that reflects national and regional expectations of an MPA degree. This issue has been the focus of AY 2007-08 MPA faculty governance. The program also needs to address the curricular inconsistencies that can result from a program staffed by a faculty that rotates in and out of the program.
As the program continues to grow, the limits to growth must be determined – at what point does the program become too large to sustain a cohort-based, interdisciplinary, team-taught MPA? Finally, the program needs to continue to work on the question of overall quality and costs of delivery, responding to the following question: “What does it take, irrespective of FTEs, to deliver a quality MPA program?”
Master in Teaching
The MIT program is a nationally recognized, state accredited teacher preparation program. In 2003, the MIT program received the Richard Wisniewski Award from the Society of Professors of Education in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of teacher education. The program is proud of this recognition of the quality of the program, of its faculty, and of its candidates. Admission to the program is competitive and the content and processes are quite rigorous. Participants earn a master’s degree of ninety-six credits and certification while obtaining the critical understanding and skills needed to teach in today’s diverse public schools. Its structure, content, expectations, and outcomes are clearly outlined in the program catalog and Web site, and have been approved regularly by the State of Washington’s Board of Education since the program’s inception. MIT also completed a successful state accreditation visit in late October 2007, having met all five standards for an advisory board, accountability, unit governance and resources, program design, and knowledge and skills.
MIT is a two-year cohort-based program that enters forty-five candidates each fall. Year one of each cohort is devoted to coursework on the essential knowledge and skills for teaching, including foundations of education, learning theories, educational research, assessment, curriculum development, strategies for working with diverse learners, classroom management, school law, and content area pedagogies. Candidates spend one day a week observing and participating in curriculum development and guided teaching in regional schools. During year two students complete two full-time student teaching quarters in fall and again in spring, with generally one of the placements in a diverse, urban setting. Winter quarter is devoted to reflection on teaching and learning, the development of a Professional Growth Plan, and professional development related to job searches. The program has been graduating about thirty-six to thirty-eight students annually. Candidates are well prepared to positively affect the students who enter their classrooms. MIT's high placement rate, first or second in the state for the last five years, suggests that principals and hiring committees agree. The University of Washington’s retention and mobility study, which indicated that nearly 80% of alumni who graduated in 2001 are still teaching, reflects MIT’s own data which suggests that the great majority of graduates tend to remain in teaching. Data from alumni, principal, and mentor teacher surveys all attest to the excellent preparation and effectiveness of MIT graduates.
Teacher education began at Evergreen in 1986, when a faculty team crafted the Teacher Education Program (TEP) to embody the same values and visions as those that permeated the Evergreen undergraduate curriculum. At the heart of TEP was the belief in learning and the power of the learner working in collaboration with other learners. Evergreen's approach to teacher preparation emphasized building a community of learners, developing a strong theoretical foundation, and learning to apply theory through extensive opportunities for practice in public school classrooms. The Master in Teaching (MIT) Program replaced the TEP in 1992, but retained its core values.
As documented in the MIT Institutional Report and accreditation Web site, a variety of individual components contribute to the whole of the program, including the commitments embedded in Evergreen’s vision of education and in the MIT Conceptual Framework (Democracy and Schooling, Developmentally Appropriate Teaching and Learning, Multicultural/Anti-Bias Perspective); the unique experiences and talents represented by the faculty and candidates in each cohort; research about learning and effective teaching practices; ongoing program and individual assessment; and attention to the State of Washington's Learning Goals and Essential Academic Learning Requirements. The creative integration of these components is what makes Evergreen's MIT program unique, responsive to individual and cultural diversity, and able to support the development of skilled and compassionate teachers who care to create just and educative learning experiences for their students.
MIT candidates and graduates are supported by faculty who are skilled and dedicated educators. MIT faculty members create significant learning opportunities that incorporate emerging local, state, and national initiatives and they also make time for scholarly work and service to Evergreen and to the larger community. For example, in two recent cohorts, faculty skillfully responded to Washington State HB 1495 by including studies of tribal histories through reservation-based work and through curriculum development projects that may be included in the Chehalis culturally-appropriate social studies curriculum. The two most recent cohorts have benefited from statewide math research in which one of our math faculty has participated. Two recent cohorts experimented successfully with innovative ways of incorporating arts across the curriculum. In all cohorts, candidates review and critique educational research that can help them become more effective teachers.
Responses to Community Needs Beyond Initial Residency Certification Since Last Accreditation
In response to the Washington Learns report, state data about understaffed curricular areas in public schools, and requests from public school personnel, the MIT program has provided a number of learning opportunities for practicing teachers. We offer a strand of classes that prepare teachers to endorse in Special Education, one of the top shortage areas in the state. In addition, we offer a Professional Certificate Program that leads to the required second certification stage for teachers in Washington. Finally, MIT’s certification officer meets individually with teachers seeking endorsements in a wide range of areas, helps assess their coursework, and supports them in creating plans of study that lead to their ability to add endorsements to their teaching certificates.
The college’s most recent response to identified shortage areas in public education was the development of a new Master of Education program, a collaborative effort among the Master in Teaching program, the Evergreen Center for Educational Improvement, and Evergreen’s Grants Office. This program will allow certified teachers to earn a master's degree while improving their knowledge and skills in two other state-identified shortage areas: mathematics and ESL. In keeping with Evergreen’s mission and the mission of the Master in Teaching program, the new master's program will also have at its center the development of teachers who can provide just and equitable learning opportunities for all children and youth.
MIT Graduate Faculty and Related Resources (Standard 2.E)
Essential to graduate education are the recruitment and retention of a faculty that excels in scholarship, teaching, and research. To provide an acceptable level of instruction for the graduate student, faculty whose responsibilities include a major commitment to graduate education are involved in keeping pace with, and advancing the frontiers of, knowledge. Successful graduate programs demand a substantial institutional commitment of resources for faculty, space, equipment, laboratories, library and information resources.
Teacher preparation at Evergreen was extended in January 2008 to include a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Curriculum and Instruction for those seeking a master's degree, but not teacher certification. The M.Ed. focuses specifically on the needs of diverse learners and the state-identified need to prepare highly qualified ESL and mathematics teachers.
The institution has been responsive in providing adequate funds to cover the costs of day-to-day operations of the program, including faculty and staff salaries, mileage reimbursement for travel to supervise student teachers, money to pay work-study students and a graduate assistant, honoraria for mentor teachers and guest speakers within the program, printing of catalogs and recruiting materials, and office supplies, etc., as well as unusual costs such as those incurred as part of preparing for and hosting the MIT accreditation visit. Computer upgrades for faculty and staff are regularly available and some funds are available to support the directors and associate directors to attend state meetings. The MIT program receives 18 one-quarter tuition waivers to award to AmeriCorps volunteers and applicants with demonstrated financial need. In addition, the MIT program requested and received $30,000 in 2005 and 2006 to help recruit and retain out-of-state candidates. In the last year, the MIT director and associate director have regularly requested more systematic support for out-of-state students and more tuition waivers for AmeriCorps candidates and candidates with financial need. The MIT director has also requested increased budget support for faculty and staff development and for an increase in honoraria for mentor teachers. For particulars about MIT’s current budget and a comparison to the budgets for the Master of Public Administration and Master of Environmental Studies programs, see MIT Budget and Graduate Program Budget Comparison.
MIT faculty, like the liberal arts faculty, are dedicated to creating learning experiences that reflect education for the development of self-reflective, life-long learners. The MIT faculty are skilled at creating learning experiences that support candidates in aspiring to this vision. An essential aspect of those learning experiences is the process of self-evaluation – all faculty and candidates regularly review, assess, and critique their work.
Though Evergreen does not require faculty to publish in order to gain tenure, all of the six core MIT faculty have presented at national, state, or local conferences and have published books, software, and/or articles in scholarly journals. Three of the core faculty (Coleman, Lenges, Vavrus) are currently involved in significant research projects in their areas of interest.
Core and visiting faculty have served public schools and the community including, but not limited to, participating in WEA and the ACLU; mentoring a high school teacher; collaborating to provide support to middle school students who did not pass the math WASL; acting as the project evaluator for a project that assessed the effectiveness of a district-wide science project; meeting with school board members and offering study sessions; teaching math in Upward Bound; helping to organize and support a group of teachers interested in teaching for social justice; assessing the reading abilities of middle school students and providing extensive written assessments and suggestions for interventions; offering math workshops in various districts; and participating as the college partner with a local elementary school in the League of Small Democratic Schools (MIT Faculty).
Faculty in MIT, like all faculty at the college, participate actively in the creation and development of curriculum at both the graduate level while teaching in MIT and the undergraduate level when working in the undergraduate curriculum. MIT faculty are hired, evaluated, and retained in the same manner as all other faculty. (See Standard 4 detailed description of hiring, faculty planning, assignment, retention, and participation in research, teaching and evaluation.) MIT faculty members typically teach in a two-year cycle and often participate in the undergraduate program in the third year. Like all other faculty members, MIT faculty members participate in quarterly and annual reviews of their teaching work through the process of student-faculty evaluation conferences and documents, and also through faculty team reviews. Like all other regular Evergreen faculty, MIT faculty move through a series of annual evaluations by the deans and, when moved to continuing contract, participate in a five-year review cycle. (Again see evaluation processes in Standard 4).
Student Evaluations of MIT Faculty - Faculty summaries of student feedback
MIT Faculty Scholarship - Faculty summaries of scholarship
MIT Faculty Service - Faculty summaries of service
MIT Faculty Collaboration - Faculty summaries of collaboration
MIT Graduate Records and Academic Credit (Standard 2.F)
Graduate admission and retention policies ensure that student qualifications and expectations are compatible with institutional mission and goals. Graduate program faculty are involved in specifying admission criteria, transfer of graduate credit, and graduation requirements.
As indicated in state accreditation requirements for teacher preparation program accreditation, “Candidates who demonstrate potential for acquiring the content and pedagogical knowledge and skills for success as educators in schools are recruited, admitted, and retained (WAC 181-78A-200 Candidates Admission Policies). These candidates include members from under represented groups.” Evergreen’s recruitment, admission, and retention policies are published in hard-copy catalogs and on the MIT program Web site (MIT Admissions Page).
The Master in Teaching program clearly states its expectations for program participants on its Web site, in its catalog, in the Master in Teaching Program Guidebook to Policies, Procedures, and Resources, in the Student Teaching Handbook, and on cohort Web sites. Whether criteria for admission to the program, criteria for benchmark portfolios and projects, expectations for the master's project, clear explanations about the program’s Conceptual Framework and the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in a performance-based teacher education program, candidates have ready access to expectations. In addition, these expectations reflect the Conceptual Framework and state standards. Candidates are regularly asked to demonstrate that they have developed the knowledge, skills, and dispositions articulated in the expectations. For ways in which candidate performance is assessed, please see NEED (MIT Student Assessment).
The prime requirements for admission are academic excellence and the potential to succeed as a teacher in a broad range of classroom settings. The admissions committee considers both qualitative and quantitative written evidence and, if possible, a personal interview.
Each applicant's admission information – which includes essays, a résumé, transcripts, letters of recommendation, content area preparation worksheets, and test results – is evaluated in these areas:
- general graduate-level academic ability, including liberal arts breadth, completion of general education prerequisites, and strong writing and reading comprehension;
- quality of endorsement area content preparation;
- experience within the past two years in a public school classroom, observing or working with students at the grade level the candidate wishes to teach;
- experience with individuals from diverse cultural (racial/ethnic) backgrounds;
- study or work indicating an interest in the intellectual and social development of young people and a commitment to a teaching career in a K-12 setting;
- interpersonal communication skills and professionalism in public settings;
- completeness of application materials and the care with which the content has been prepared.
Graduate faculty collaborate to specify admissions and retention criteria. In the Master in Teaching program, faculty teams are also members of the Admissions Committee that evaluates applications and recommends or denies admission to the program (MIT Faculty Expectations).
Transfer credit – The MIT Program does not accept transfer credit.
Master in Teaching Program (MIT): The State of Washington accreditation standards for teacher preparation programs require that teacher candidates have field and clinical teaching experiences. (Standard IV[G a-c]: Field Experiences and Clinical Practices: The unit and its school partners design, implement, and evaluate field experiences and clinical practices so that candidates demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to help all students learn.) MIT requires candidates to spend time in diverse public school classrooms each quarter of the first year and awards credit for these experiences. All candidates spend time in rural, urban, and suburban schools and in elementary, middle school, and high school classrooms during the first quarter of the program. In the second and third quarters of the program, candidates work in one classroom under the guidance of a certified teacher. Each quarter of the first year, candidates spend approximately forty to fifty guided hours a quarter working in a public school classroom. In the second year of the program, candidates complete two, ten-week student teaching (intern) experiences. One of these is usually in an urban setting to provide significant experiences with diverse populations of students. The Student Teaching Handbook outlines the responsibilities of the student teacher, the mentor teacher, and the college supervisor. Successful completion results in sixteen graduate credits each of the two quarters.
Issues to be Addressed
- Currently, the Master in Teaching Program is the only teacher preparation entity on Evergreen’s campus that leads to state certification. The director for the Master in Teaching Program has primary responsibility for administering this program but has also, by default, assumed responsibility for the Special Education Endorsement sequence, the Professional Certificate program, and the addition of endorsements for certified teachers, none of which are included in the MIT program. For greater efficiency and consistency in supervision, hiring, and accreditation, the college might want to consider how to officially bring all of these education components under the supervision of a director of education.
- The accreditation process for teacher preparation programs has become considerably more rigorous and data-driven in the last two to three years. The college administration may need to review the needs and relationship of graduate teacher preparation to the undergraduate college. Specifically, what resources and intentions need to be available for hiring appropriate faculty and completing data analysis related to successful accreditation reviews?
Master of Environmental Studies
The Evergreen State College began its Master of Environmental Studies program in 1984. The program integrates the study of the biological, physical, and social sciences with public policy and leads to the Master of Environmental Studies (MES) degree. The program aims to produce graduates who combine an interdisciplinary understanding of the social and natural sciences with the skills and wisdom to intelligently address environmental problems. The program is centered on highly participatory evening classes that accommodate full- or part-time students. Many alumni are employed in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, while others continue their graduate study in related Ph.D. programs. The perspectives of the MES program are national and international, but extensive use is made of the environmental issues in the Pacific Northwest.
Faculty members come from biological, physical, and social sciences and a balance of these disciplinary fields is maintained in the teams of two to three faculty members who teach each of the four required “core” courses. These faculty members rotate into the graduate program for, typically, two years before returning to teach full-time in the undergraduate programs of the college. At Evergreen, it is not possible for faculty members to teach both graduate and undergraduate courses at the same time because of the time commitments of teaching a full-time undergraduate program. Service of two years at any one time in the MES program allows faculty members and students to get to know each other and to form close working relationships for purposes of research and thesis writing.
The MES program admits up to forty students each year. Each entering class takes the core sequence as a group during their first four quarters. (These core courses are described below. Also see MES Core Sequence document.) Students develop a cohesive and cooperative approach to learning that cannot be matched by taking a scattering of individual courses. Continuing students work to integrate their first-year colleagues into a strong, supportive learning community of about eighty to one hundred students overall, dedicated to increasing their knowledge and understanding of the many facets of professional environmental work. About two-thirds of Evergreen's MES students have undergraduate degrees in the natural sciences, primarily biology or environmental studies. The rest have degrees in the social sciences and humanities. Some come directly from undergraduate work. Many bring to the program work or volunteer experience in diverse areas. MES students have ranged in age from twenty-two to well over sixty. We are also privileged to have two to three international students enroll each year. The students and faculty report that this diversity of backgrounds, experience, and ages contributes significantly to their overall learning. Each year, approximately twenty-five students graduate with their master's degrees.
The MES curriculum consists of three closely integrated components: (1) the four required core programs; (2) electives, offered to provide more specialized training in subjects related to environmental studies; and (3) thesis work, which often takes the form of applied research. Students are also encouraged to undertake internship and independent learning activities in their second year. An MES degree requires seventy-two quarter-hours of credit, including thirty-two credits of core work and eight or sixteen credits of thesis, along with twenty-four or thirty-two credits of electives. The exact mix of elective credits and thesis credits will vary according to which of two thesis options a student selects. Students enrolled full time (twelve quarter-hours) can complete all degree requirements in six quarters. A new joint MES/MPA degree has been offered since 2006, which requires ninety-six quarter-hours of work in both graduate programs.
The MES program is designed so working students can attend part time. Core and elective programs meet in the evening and late afternoon. Students who enroll for eight hours per quarter require a minimum of nine quarters to complete the MES degree. These students usually take the core sequence before enrolling in electives or beginning the thesis project. Electives and thesis work are also available in the summer.
The MES core sequence starts with a general view of environmental study, in the course Political Economic and Ecological Processes. This program provides a framework for understanding current environmental issues from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students begin to develop the skills to become producers of new knowledge, rather than being strictly learners of information already available. Multiple methods of data acquisition and analysis are introduced through examples drawn from many fields of study. The philosophy of science and the problematic relationship between science and policy are also introduced.
The second core course is Ecological and Social Sustainability. This course addresses central issues in contemporary sustainability studies on theoretical and practical levels. Emphasis is on ways to promote both environmental and social sustainability. Areas covered may include environmental quality at regional, national, and global scales; energy use and alternative energies; resource availability and access to resources; social and cultural issues of sustainability; and indicators to guide policy. As part of this program, students write and present a research paper to provide evidence of their readiness to advance to candidacy.
The third core course is Quantitative and Qualitative Data Analysis for Environmental Studies. In this course, students learn how to integrate the use of inferential statistics and qualitative data analysis to conduct rigorous examinations of the social, biological, and physical aspects of environmental issues. This knowledge prepares students for their own research and for understanding and critiquing research articles and reports in fields of their choosing.
The final core course is Case Studies and Thesis Research Design, in which students apply and strengthen the skills they gained in their first year of MES core studies, by carrying out individual or small group projects. Students and faculty also work together to apply what has been learned throughout the core sequence about interdisciplinary environmental research to design individual thesis research plans that will be ready to carry out by the end of the fall quarter of the student’s second year.
Four-credit electives offer students the opportunity to study a specific subject in more depth than is possible in core programs (see a list of electives in MES Curriculum 2007-2009). MES students may also enroll in MPA electives and apply the credits earned toward their MES elective requirements. Additionally, students can take up to eight elective credits of course work in the form of internships and individual contracts.
The MES program offers two ways to fulfill the thesis requirement, namely the eight-credit “Thesis: Essay of Distinction” and the sixteen-credit “Thesis.” Both require the student to engage in research on a significant topic and consider its political, economic, and scientific aspects. It can be an individual or a team effort. The project preferably should be of value to an external client or organization as well as meeting high academic and theoretical standards. Primary differences between the two thesis options lie in the scope of the problem examined and the manner in which the research is conducted. The Thesis: Essay of Distinction reviews and analyzes an existing body of information and does not involve substantial original field or survey research. This thesis option is written in a workshop setting during winter and spring quarters of the student's final year. Students selecting this option take eight hours of thesis credits and thirty-two hours of elective credits. The sixteen-credit thesis option represents a substantial research project conducted independently by the student with the support and guidance of a three-person thesis committee. It offers the opportunity for extended fieldwork, data collection, and analysis. The thesis committee includes two Evergreen faculty members plus an outside reader appropriate to the topic. Students selecting this option take sixteen hours of thesis credits and twenty-four hours of elective credits. As the culmination of the thesis project, students share results with faculty and students in a public, oral presentation. See the MES Thesis Handbook for additional detail.
MES assessment is a continuing process that includes assessment of student work, faculty performance, and program effectiveness. Student work is assessed in detail during and at the culmination of each course through feedback on assignments and through the narrative evaluation process. Student/faculty evaluation conferences and narrative evaluations are carried out in the same manner as in Evergreen’s undergraduate program. With a maximum student/faculty ratio of 15/1, faculty and students have close working relationships and excellent opportunities for assessment. Students also provide assessment of faculty and program performance through this process. The MES director and assistant director regularly seek and receive informal assessments of program performance from students at all points in their academic trajectories. This is done mostly through personal meetings, but also through correspondence. Faculty performance is assessed by the MES director through regular communications with faculty and students and through formal evaluation conferences between the director and adjunct faculty.
A detailed program assessment was carried out in a self-study completed in November 2004 (MES Self-Study 2004). A year later, an intensive, two-day program assessment was conducted in September of 2005 in a “summer institute” called The Future of Graduate Environmental Studies at Evergreen. The purpose of the summer institute was to assess where the MES program had been, where it should be going, and how to get there. Readings, presentations, and working groups were organized to foster creative thinking about strengthening the MES program. MES was assessed within the broader context of the evolving field of graduate environmental studies programs and, for that reason, Dr. Will Focht was invited to assess our program (Focht Report) and to participate in the summer institute as a resource person and facilitator. Dr. Focht, who is director of the Environmental Institute and director of the Environmental Science Graduate Program at Oklahoma State University, has many years of experience leading a comprehensive survey of environmental studies and science programs offered in U.S. universities. Participants in the summer institute included every previous MES director except one; many current, former, and future MES faculty members; current students; alumni; and MES support staff. These participants formed working groups to develop recommendations for the MES program from a variety of perspectives.
These assessments found that the ways in which we taught research methods were overdue for reform and a number of improvements were needed in the content and consistency of our other offerings as well. Instruction in research methods needed to be integrated into the entire sequence of required courses, which has now been done. Instead of teaching only quantitative data analysis, as was the practice in the recent past, introductions to both qualitative and quantitative methods has now been instituted in the core sequence. The old case studies core course was assessed as not serving an essential, generic function. The thesis writing process needed to be strengthened as well, by starting the process earlier and by providing more instruction in research methods. To solve this problem, the old case studies course was replaced with a new Case Studies/Thesis Research Design course, which was highly successful in its first iteration in the fall of 2007. Finally, it was found that there should be more fieldwork throughout the curriculum and this is being addressed with more field-based electives and some field work has even been introduced into the core classes this year.
MES Faculty and Related Resources (Standard 2.E)
The MES program regularly uses classroom facilities, the Computer Applications Lab, the Computer Center, the library and, for some courses, support for field classes, including motor pool vans and equipment from lab stores. Students also make use of a graduate student lounge, furnished with student mailboxes, three computer terminals, a telephone, food storage and preparation facilities, and areas for working and meeting. There are five faculty members serving exclusively in the MES program at any one time and they all have doctoral degrees and practical experience in their fields, representing a range of natural and social sciences (vitae for Maria Bastaki, Peter Dorman, Linda Moon Stumpff, Alison Styring, and Ted Whitesell are available in hard copy through the Provost's Office). MES faculty members rotate in and out of the graduate program from the undergraduate program, typically remaining in MES for two to three years at a time.
MES Graduate Records and Academic Credit (Standard 2.F)
The MES director’s position is described in the Master of Environmental Studies Director Position Description. The MES director is a faculty member who typically teaches an eight-credit, core MES course in the fall quarter, teaches a four-credit MES elective in the winter quarter, serves as a thesis reader throughout the year, and works as a half-time administrator in the summer. An MES faculty member reviews applications and makes detailed admissions recommendations to the director, who then makes final admissions decisions. The director also makes decisions about the acceptability of transfer credits.
There is one full-time MES assistant director, who is responsible for providing services to alumni, prospective students, and current students in the program (see the MES Assistant Director Job Description). The assistant director is also responsible for recruitment, marketing, and community outreach. The key focus of the position's work is to: (1) support outreach efforts to prospective students, which will result in recruitment to the program; and (2) provide student service assistance (advising, internships, financial aid, employment and careers, personal) to existing students, in order to increase retention to graduation. The position also supports efforts to cultivate the involvement of alumni, an advisory board, and members of the community in the program's affairs.
There is also a work-study student who serves as program assistant. This position provides administrative and clerical support to the assistant director and director.
The MES Program budget is adequate and is currently as follows:
- Organization 25101, MES Support: $88,827.00 total
- Account 6100 - Salaries and Wages: $58,152.00
- Account 6200 - Benefits: $15,515.00
- Account 7230 - Goods and Services: $10,360.00
- Account 7250 - Travel: $4,800.00
- Organization 25102, MES Academic: $9,800.00 total
- Account 7230 - Goods and Services: $9,800.00
All MES faculty are involved in revising admissions or graduation requirements. Program policies and regulations are distributed at orientation and are always available on the program Web site (see MES Student Policy Handbook and also MES Supported Resources). All admissions and graduation requirements are clearly posted on the program Web site (MES Admissions Requirements and MES Graduation Requirements) as well as being spelled out in the Student Policy Handbook and the Thesis Handbook. These handbooks are revised and updated annually by the MES director and assistant director.
MES/MPA Dual Degree
Starting in fall 2006, the Master of Environmental Studies and Master of Public Administration programs began offering a combined MES/MPA degree. This joint program is designed both for environmental professionals who wish to improve their administrative skills and for public administrators and public policy professionals who want to gain expertise in the analysis of environmental issues. Three students applied and were accepted in fall 2007. The first two students to earn this joint degree will graduate in 2008. The third joint-degree student is on track to graduate in either 2009 or 2010. The program has four serious prospective students who plan to apply to enter the program in fall 2008. All of these students have started out as MES students, before applying to become joint MES/MPA students.
Students must complete a total of ninety-six credits in both programs to obtain the degree, including core coursework and electives in both programs. Electives should be approximately equally divided between MES and MPA. If a student is in the MPA-Tribal program, s/he must take five MPA-tribal concentration courses. The MPA and MES directors must approve students' educational plans for elective work. All joint-degree students are required to complete an eight- or sixteen-credit MES thesis instead of the MPA capstone or thesis. The MES/MPA thesis prospectus requires approval by both the MPA and MES directors. Students may choose either the MES or MPA research methods/design programs in the MES or MPA core.
Standard 2.G – Off-Campus and Continuing Education
Location and Mission of the Tacoma Program
The Tacoma campus is located in the Hilltop area of Tacoma, an inner city, mixed-use zone of businesses, private homes, multi-unit dwellings and three hospitals. The area is in the process of change, evolving from one of primarily low-income residents to one of new and expanding businesses and multi-unit dwellings for urban professionals.
The mission of the Tacoma Program is to prepare students to serve their local communities, the state, the nation, and the world through interdisciplinary, team-taught, community-based academic programs. This mission is accomplished through instructional, inter-institutional, and community partnerships that place value and emphasis on educating students while meeting the needs of our communities.
The guiding philosophy of the program is “enter to learn, depart to serve.” Its values are hospitality, inclusiveness, civility, and reciprocity. There is intentionality in the program’s approach to its mission of serving communities. The campus maintains an environment that is open, welcoming, and inclusive. In keeping with its mission of service, the campus gives back to local and state communities by opening its doors to seminars and training sessions offered by community, municipal, and state agencies. Through these collaborations, students gain access to participation in democratic governance that sometimes offers pathways to internships and employment. Moreover, these public gatherings are part of the campus’s strategic recruitment plan.
The academic process encourages a spirit of open inquiry with the expectation that students become equipped with cutting-edge knowledge, literacies, and skills relevant to recognized fields of study, and awareness of the changing demographics of today’s world.
The Tacoma campus is considered to be an academic program, however, it is much more. The practical realities are that the program operates in many ways like a campus. Unlike the Olympia campus, the Tacoma campus operates with an on-site director who manages the operations, public relations, and student services issues (including disability access concerns), and serves as the academic leader. The campus has one student services professional who performs multiple duties including, but not limited to, recruitment, advising, help with registration, orientation of new students, and tracking of student data. The director is also actively involved in supporting student services.
At its inception, the campus responded to the need for a public college in Tacoma that would serve the broad interests of citizens in the area. The campus sought to meet the needs of local residents; however, as the student body grew and the planning directions of the City of Tacoma developed, students from five counties began to matriculate in the Tacoma program. Over the years, in response to demand from those five counties and growing enrollment, the faculty and curriculum expanded.
Curricular Structure and Student Population
The Tacoma Program is an upper division, full-time learning community offering a yearlong liberal arts and sciences curriculum. Throughout the academic year, individual courses address the overall theme of the program. Enrollment in the program is capped at 225 students (Enrollment History for Tacoma Program).
Classes are offered during the day and replicated in the evening in order to facilitate accessibility and flexibility for place-bound working adults. Students between the ages of thirty-five and forty-four make up 34% of Tacoma students, 30% are between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-four, 16% are between the ages of forty-five and fifty-five, 11% are over fifty-five, and 9% are eighteen to twenty-four years of age.
Diversity of the student body is also reflected in its ethnic make-up: 49% of Tacoma students are African-American; 43% percent are European American; 4% are Latino; 2% are Native American; and 2% are Asian/Pacific Islander.
Most of the Tacoma campus students are either employed or seeking employment. In a 2005 survey of new students, 31% of the student sample indicated they were employed or planning to work thirty-five hours or more per week. Another 20.7% noted that they were employed or planning to work twenty to thirty-four hours per week, and 17.2% indicated that they were employed or planning to work nineteen hours or less. Of those responding, 17.2%, said that they did not know whether they would work during fall quarter and 13.8% indicated that they would not work in the fall (Evergreen New Student Survey 2005 - Employment - Tacoma).
Nearly half of all Tacoma campus students have children in their care. In the survey cited above, 44.8% of Tacoma respondents stated that they have a dependent child living with them. Of the twenty-six respondents who indicated that they have dependent children living with them, nine respondents, or 34.6% noted that they will need childcare (Evergreen New Student Survey 2005 - Dependent Children - Tacoma).
Most Tacoma campus students are the first generation in their families to attend college. In the 2005 survey, Tacoma respondents reported at least one parent’s educational background, and of those reporting, 81.9% stated that they had no parent with a four-year degree or more and 49.1% reported that no parent had attended college (Evergreen New Student Survey 2005 - Parental Education - Tacoma).
In response to a question about financial support for college, 50% of students reporting indicated that they received aid (loans) that must be repaid, while 73.2% received aid that does not need to be repaid (grants, work study, scholarships, military funding, DVR, worker retraining funds) (Evergreen New Student Survey 2005 - Financial Support - Tacoma).
Faculty and Programs
Several of the faculty have dual terminal degrees, for example, MD/PhD or PhD/JD. This interdisciplinarity affords faculty and students opportunity to come face-to-face with how distinctively different disciplines generate a variety of phenomena and meaning. Moreover, students see reflected in the faculty the complexity of the world and their places in it. Interdisciplinary, team-taught courses cover the following areas: law; political science; public policy; foreign policy; psychology; sociology; ecology; environmental policy; basic and advanced biology; life sciences, such as biochemistry, physiology, and neurosciences; environmental science; public health; bioethics; mathematics; 3D modeling; statistics; research methods; literature; Chinese cultural studies; poetry; memoir; film; media literacy; romance languages; West African languages; multimedia art and design; Web design; graphic design; video production; and sound editing.
The program currently has four continuing faculty members, five visiting faculty members and two adjunct professors.
Each academic year, the faculty offers a theme-based interdisciplinary program. The themes of the programs are empirically grounded in community needs expressed by our community partners and collaborators. Programs have focused on disparities and injustices in the criminal justice system, education, public policy, health, and economics. Issues of class, race, gender, and religion have surfaced in the courses offered in the programs. Writing across the curriculum is one of the hallmarks of the program. Recently, laboratory time was added to classes in the liberal arts, social sciences, science, and mathematics. In order to assist students in moving from theory to practice, the faculty sought to provide a learning laboratory to extend both the depth and breadth of students’ cognitive and experiential learning. Faculty conduct and lead the laboratory activities in writing, research, science, mathematics, computer graphics, politics, iMovie editing, and curriculum design.
The program includes an all-campus Lyceum in which all students in the Tacoma program are enrolled. Lyceum is the centerpiece of the curriculum through which students are exposed to knowledge that may be outside of the faculty team and contributes to the intellectual life of the campus. Lyceum forms the nexus for inclusion of the program theme, guest speakers, books, and academic work in the individual classes. Students in Lyceum are together for ninety minutes and then break into seminar groups for an additional ninety minutes. These seminar groups are led by individual faculty to whom students are assigned for the entire academic year. Through this process, students engage in reflexive thinking and practice.
Individual faculty members also serve as academic advisors to their respective students during their tenure in the program. These seminar advisors, as they are called, are responsible for writing the year-end evaluation of their advisees. Each quarter, faculty complete an evaluation of all students in their classes. These are distributed to the individual student and his/her advisor. At the end of the academic year, the advisor synthesizes the evaluations gathered from the faculty into one evaluation for each student advisee. In writing the evaluation, the faculty primarily focus on the following outcomes or skills: course content mastery, writing skills, critical and analytical thinking skills, oral communication skills, collaboration/working across significant differences, quantitative skills, and attendance.
The program has no requirements beyond that of achieving 180 credits, but recommends that students enroll in a memoir writing class, research methods, and statistics. Opportunities for reflexive thinking abound in the curriculum. Work in the memoir writing class allows for work that is both illuminating and emancipating. Students come to understand the process of moving from victim, and in many instances, to victor. This appears to be a recurring theme in working with adult learners.
In the senior year, students may elect to enroll in an independent learning contract or an internship. Here, students are presented with application of theory to real-world situations where they explore more deeply issues and ideas related to their academic areas of concentration and/or professional pathways. It is also during this year that students are expected to write and orally present a synthesis of their learning and academic journey. Through the process, students gain reflexive praxis and synthesis of ideas and experiences.
Student Survey Data
In a 2006 survey of students on the Evergreen experience, 48.7% of Tacoma program students indicated that the academic workload was “just right.” Another 48.7% reported that the academic workload was “a little too heavy” or “too heavy,” and 2.6% noted that their academic workload was “too light” (Evergreen Student Experience Survey 2006 - Workload - Tacoma).
Students indicated high levels of satisfaction with the learning environment: 66.7% of students noted that they were very satisfied with the overall quality of instruction; 65.8% noted that they were very satisfied with lectures and other presentations by the faculty; 60.5% were very satisfied with the interdisciplinary approach to course content; 2.6% of students said that they were dissatisfied with both the lectures and other presentations by faculty and with the interdisciplinary approach to course content. No student indicated dissatisfaction with the learning environment or the overall quality of instruction (Evergreen Student Experience Survey 2006 - Satisfaction - Tacoma).
The ability of students to enroll in their first choice of academic programs varied to a small extent. In the fall, 89.7% stated that they enrolled in their first choice. In winter quarter, 93.5% enrolled in their first choice. In spring, 92.1% were able to enroll in their first choice. The common barrier to enrollment in their first choice was conflicts in the schedule. Students indicated that on the Tacoma campus they do not have a lot of flexibility in the choices available (Evergreen Student Experience Survey 2006 - First Choice - Tacoma).
Students expressed their views on the importance of campus diversity to their learning. The most common response was that diversity was “very” important, as noted by 48.7% of the sample. Another 35.9% indicated “quite a bit,” 7.7% indicated “somewhat important,” and 5% indicated that diversity is “not at all” important (Evergreen Student Experience Survey 2006 - Diversity Importance - Tacoma).
Alumni Survey Data
In a 2006 survey of alumni, 74.1% of Tacoma program alumni reported that they were currently employed one year after graduation. Of those, 95% were working in an area that was at least somewhat related to their area of primary study. In all, 84.2% felt that their Evergreen experiences prepared them adequately or very well for their current employment. Looking at fields of employment, 35% of Tacoma alumni were employed in the area of community and social service, 25% were employed in education, 10% were in business management, and another 10% were in health care. In terms of community service, 55.6% were involved in volunteer activities one year after graduation.
Tacoma program graduates were asked to rate their satisfaction with Evergreen’s contribution to their academic and personal growth. In twenty-four areas, Tacoma alumni reported being mostly or very satisfied with Evergreen’s contribution. On four of the twenty-four areas, 96.3% gave the highest rating. These areas included: their abilities to do “critical analysis of written information”; “recognizing [their] rights and responsibilities and privileges as a citizen”; “functioning as a responsible member of a diverse community”; and “reading for academic purposes.” Learning independently, writing effectively, defining and understanding problems, working cooperatively in a group, giving effective presentations, synthesizing information and ideas from many sources, and managing time effectively also ranked very highly among the students surveyed.
Among their Evergreen experiences, 81.5% of alumni were very satisfied with the interdisciplinary approach to education and the narrative evaluations, while 74.1% were satisfied with the quality of instruction (Alumni Survey 2006: Tacoma).
Functioning as a campus and a program places enormous responsibilities and time commitments on the director, faculty, and staff. In order to serve the needs of the students and to collaborate effectively with the community (Sixth Avenue Business Association, Chamber of Commerce, and community partners), faculty and staff are faced with multiple responsibilities. This situation, combined with the faculty desires and commitments to provide intellectually stimulating curricula, presents a weighty challenge. While the number of continuing faculty is small, visiting faculty and adjuncts complement the ability of the faculty to provide engaging and essential liberal arts curricula. They also perform much needed functions on the campus, such as academic advising. Visiting faculty contribute to the intellectual vibrancy of the learning environment and bring new energy and interdisciplinary perspectives to the curriculum.
Similar to the Olympia campus, the Tacoma program faces imminent attrition of one-half of its continuing faculty. The latest continuing hire, the mathematics professor, did not move the program towards addressing this issue of succession planning. The faculty and the director have not had a serious conversation about how to plan for faculty replacements. There have been informal conversations about planning for the future, but nothing concrete has surfaced from those discussions.
Given that the program states in its mission that it is preparing students to serve the world, there is a need for increased focus on foreign languages. Our curriculum has and continues to include courses that address global issues. However, there has neither been a concrete nor a coherent effort to include foreign languages in the curriculum. The program currently offers conversational French with the expectation of providing opportunities for students to learn the more widely spoken African languages. We also have the capacity and the faculty to offer Mandarin Chinese.
Access services have increasingly become an important component of student needs. The most difficult situation is presented by students who have a disability that is not visually apparent and lack a diagnosis of a specific condition such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, or other statutorily covered condition. The cost of such a diagnosis is expensive and becomes a problem because most of our students do not have health insurance. At this juncture, the program has nothing in place to address the financial barriers to services for students with disabilities.
Finally, there is a need for the college to face the paradox that is presented by this program/campus. At once, it is a campus, without adequate campus resources, and also a program that serves a population of adult learners, many of whom are first generation college students, and most of whom have incomes below the poverty index for Washington state. The needs presented are great. While the college has supplied curricular support and some student services in the past few years, especially during the current academic year, there still exists a dire need to increase the time of a psychotherapist on the campus from one day per week to minimally three days each week.
Native American Programs, Research, and Services
From the early days of the college there has been a close and distinctive link between the Native American communities of the area and the college. This link has grown and evolved in a variety of directions over the years in response to both Native faculty and staff members at the college and the interests and connections of local communities. The programs, as they have developed over the years, have involved a variety of formal educational opportunities for both Native and non-Native students, applied research in support of tribal work, support for Native arts, community gatherings, and support for training in tribal governance. Today Native students constitute 3.6% of undergraduates and 7.2% of graduate students for an overall 3.9% of the entire student body (Fall 2007 Student Demographic Summary).
Currently six major programs or projects comprise the area:
The Evergreen Center for Educational Improvement
"House of Welcome" Longhouse Education and Cultural Center
Master of Public Administration in Tribal Governance
Native American and World Indigenous Peoples Studies (NAWIPS)
Northwest Indian Applied Research Institute
Reservation-Based Community-Determined Program
Native American and World Indigenous Peoples Studies (NAWIPS)
The area is staffed both by staff members and by faculty. Native faculty comprises 7.2% of all regular faculty members at the college. Faculty members teach in the regular Olympia daytime curriculum, in the Master of Public Administration in Tribal Governance, and in the Reservation-Based program. Native faculty members and a few non-Native faculty members affiliate with Native American and World Indigenous Peoples Studies (NAWIPS) in the same way as faculty affiliate with a planning unit. Some Native faculty members affiliate with both NAWIPS and a planning unit.
Faculty members affiliate primarily with NAWIPS for planning purposes. The area programs provide opportunities to engage in studies that support indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, the Americas, and the world. The Native programs for the Olympia undergraduate program are organized and offered through the area. NAWIPS programs in the Evergreen full-time day curriculum support a variety of programs dealing with treaty relationships between tribal nations and the U.S. government. Considerable attention is given to the history of Native nations and peoples from pre-Columbian times to the present and to issues of cultural and economic revitalization. Another strand in the NAWIPS day offerings provides a student-centered research project-oriented offering that provides a home base and regular support for individual and small group research projects. The area has supported a low of 22.4 FTE in 2002-03 to a high of 118.3 two years later. The area has maintained an enrollment of more than 100 FTE for the past three years. Fluctuation arises from the small size of the area, the vagaries of enrollment in off-campus sites, and the significant reduction in teaching faculty when faculty members take leave or take on non-teaching assignments (Curricular Visions_Selected Trends_97to07_update).
Reservation-Based Community-Determined Program
The Reservation-Based Community-Determined program is designed for place-bound students on Indian reservations in western Washington. The program targets students with ninety or more college credits and operates in tribal communities at the invitation of the host tribe. Classes meet two nights a week at the program sites: Lower Elwha, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Port Gamble, Quinault, and Tulalip. Makah and Skokomish will reactivate pending sufficient student enrollment. Students also meet monthly at the Olympia campus, taking courses that provide the breadth of a liberal arts curriculum, and working collaboratively with students from all sites.
A repeatable three-year core curriculum integrates distinctly local concerns with the liberal arts and provides opportunities to develop a wide range of skills in research, writing, critical thinking, public speaking, and group work. An advisory board provides input for the curriculum and ensures consistent curriculum delivery at all sites. Native students have consistently formed from 75% to 99% of the students in the program. Enrollment in the program has fluctuated significantly as competition with other institutions for students has developed and as potentially eligible persons matriculated and graduated (Enrollment History for Tribal: Reservation-based/Community-determined Programs).
Students identify achieving personal success, career change, personal growth, and developing creative and effective communication skills in speaking and writing as their most common goals for seeking a degree (see Evergreen Student Experience Survey 2006 – Goals - Tribal programs). All of the students completing the survey indicated they intended to stay in the program to graduation (see Evergreen Student Experience Survey 2006 – Intent to Stay - Tribal programs). Students cite Evergreen’s particular contribution to class participation, cooperative work in a group, learning independently, and reading for academic purposes as the program’s most significant contributions to their learning (see Evergreen Student Experience Survey 2006 - Learning - Tribal Programs). Students were satisfied with all elements of the program and were particularly pleased with their relationships with faculty, the overall quality of instruction, the quality of faculty response to work and seminars as a way of learning. Their concerns dealt with keeping up with the work and developing computer skills (Evergreen Student Experience Survey 2006 - Satisfaction - Tribal Programs).
The program has developed a hybrid online/face-to-face bridge program with Grays Harbor College to support lower division work for students with similar ties to tribal communities. Two major grants from the Lumina Foundation for Education support this work, and have provided curriculum support in two important ways. First, the use of electronic portfolios (e-Portfolios) allows students to electronically display and reflect on their work, and to comment on the work of others. Second, more than thirty case studies of current issues in Indian country have been produced, and are used in a case study workshop at the Saturday classes.
The Reservation-Based Community-Determined program is an integral part of the NAWIPS planning unit and is documented and reviewed like any other program. Its contents are determined by its faculty, whose backgrounds and experience make them effective and knowledgeable designers of the curriculum. Supervision of this program, like all other programs, rests in the hands of the deans. Student fees are the same as those on the main campus and student activity fees are returned to the program. Standards for credit parallel those of the rest of the college. Students have not participated in the PLE program, but would participate in the regular Olympia campus process if this option were selected. Student learning is complexly documented through the evaluation procedure and the program's use of e-portfolios.
The Master of Public Administration in Tribal Governance is one of three tracks in the Master of Public Administration Program. This cohort-based, two-year master’s program is the only degree-granting program in the nation to focus on structures, processes, and issues specific to tribal governments. The master's program is critically important for Native nations and supports students from in-state and across the country. The basic structure of the program, requirements, and the like are described above in the Master of Public Administration section.
This three-tiered approach to Native education provides crucial opportunities for Native communities to participate in shaping educational opportunities for their members, for Native students to learn in a variety of distinctively Native contexts, and for non-Native students to come to understand significant issues, policies, treaty obligations, and cultural differences.
In addition to the directly educational function of the area, “The House of Welcome” Longhouse on the Evergreen campus serves as an important center for promoting indigenous arts and culture through gatherings of artists, continuing programs, and sales. The Longhouse also provides an important gathering place for events and classes. Staff at the Longhouse serve as a central point in helping bring the campus Native community together. Together with the academic programs, the Longhouse helps make present significant issues of cultural diversity on campus.
The Evergreen Center for Educational Improvement
The Center for Educational Improvement works with a number of communities across the state to develop and share the best instructional tools, techniques, and models. An important focus for the center’s work has been Native American education. The center is currently helping develop a K-2 reading curriculum and is working with the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis on a community-based history and culture curriculum of the Chehalis people.
Northwest Indian Applied Research Institute
Since 1999, the Northwest Indian Applied Research Institute (NIARI) has worked with tribes on a wide range of issues that focus on serving Washington state tribes and Native people through work on resources, cultural revitalization, economic stability, and tribal governance. The institute has also done critical international work helping with the United League of Indigenous Nations, and critical Native issues throughout the Pacific Rim.
Study Abroad (2.G.12)
Evergreen is committed to increased internationalization. Internationalization is broader than study abroad; it encompasses language, area and cultural studies, and all the curricular and extracurricular opportunities that students have to learn about unfamiliar social and natural systems. The term internationalization is defined by Knight (1994) as “the process of integrating an international/intercultural dimension into the teaching, research, and service functions of the institution.” Programs that allow our students to study abroad are a large part of this effort. Currently, on average, 8% of Evergreen students study abroad each year; approximately 48% study through academic programs, 43% through contracts and internships, 8% through consortium partners, and 1% on student exchange. This proportion is significantly higher than any of the other four-year state universities in Washington.
|Study Abroad Opportunities||2005-06||2006-07||Average||Percent of Total Enrollment||Percent of Study Abroad|
|Academic Programs with Travel Abroad Component||124||223||174||4%||48%|
|Individual Learning Contract||104||153||129||3%||36%|
These study abroad opportunities are consistent with Evergreen’s five foci, in particular, linking theory with practice, teaching and learning across significant differences, and personal engagement in learning. In addition, these study abroad opportunities help fulfill the Six Expectations of an Evergreen Graduate.
Based on these fundamental principles, the institution’s strategic plan (2007) specifically states, “Seniors attribute growth in their ability to address real-world problems to their experiences at Evergreen. Increasingly, these real-world issues involve a global context. Evergreen is committed to internationalizing its curriculum and will review and strengthen its support for international studies and study abroad opportunities for students.”
Academic Programs: Most students study abroad with academic programs that have a foreign travel component. These programs have an international focus and demonstrate Evergreen’s integrated approach to global learning. On average, ten academic programs travel abroad each year, but this number varies depending on their cost. For a description of the process used to select and fund these programs, see Study Abroad Procedures. A list of programs that have traveled abroad over the past five years is also attached. The cost of these programs, for both the college and the students, is significant; approximately 20% of the budget for academic programs is allocated to these study abroad programs in order to cover the faculty travel expenses. Students must also pay a fee that covers their travel expenses. This fee varies depending on the location and duration, but the average fee is $3,000. Two examples of academic programs with travel abroad components are Memory of Fire: Spain and Latin America and Tropical Rainforests.
Memory of Fire: Spain and Latin America offers students the opportunity for interdisciplinary study in Spanish language, history, and literature of Spain and Latin America. The program culminates in independent research or internships abroad in Santó Tomás, Nicaragua, or southern Spain, as well as internships with local Latino organizations for students who elect to stay on campus. In this program we find interconnected theoretical and practical approaches to learning in a global context. Such study produces students who not only speak Spanish, but understand the historical, political, and cultural implications of various real-world problems for Hispanic countries and people. They do this not just by theoretical study, but by engaging in practical experiences with local and global communities.
Tropical Rainforests, offered every other year, takes students to Costa Rica for the final three weeks of the winter quarter. The program focuses on field ecology, the physical environment, statistical analysis of field data, conservation biology, and Latin American culture. While in Costa Rica, students visit several major field sites, including coastal habitats, tropical dry forests, cloud forests, and lowland rainforests. Students have the option of staying in Costa Rica during spring quarter to do ecological research on an individual learning contract.
Individual Learning Contracts and Internships: Typically reserved for junior- and senior-level students, these are student-generated projects in which the student works directly with a faculty sponsor to complete advanced academic work. Each year 100 to 200 students study abroad on a contract. A full third of all students, or approximately 1,200 students, will complete an internship, locally or globally, during their Evergreen career.
Consortium Agreements and Exchanges: As a small, liberal arts college, we recognize that our range of institution-sponsored study abroad programs will not meet every student’s needs. We currently offer fourteen consortium programs with destinations worldwide. Approximately thirty students participate in consortia each year. Our two yearlong Japanese exchange programs are with the University of Hyogo and University of Miyazaki.
For an overview of undergraduate participation in study abroad by planning unit, please see: Alumni Study Abroad by Planning Unit.
Extended Education (EE) is one of the college’s responses to declining state support for higher education. In 2003, a committee was charged with examining the feasibility of Extended Education as an additional source of revenue for Evergreen. The committee recommended moving ahead with Extended Education after an additional planning year (2003-04). After considerable discussion, EE was approved as a pilot project by a vote of the faculty on November 17, 2004. The faculty approved a $600,000 investment for this pilot stipulating that a review for quality of programs and financial viability would occur in years three and five of the program (Minutes of Faculty Meeting – November 17, 2004). A review of the EE program, scheduled for fall 2008, will examine the financial viability of the program and the ways it intersects with the rest of the college's curriculum.
Extended Education officially began at The Evergreen State College on July 1, 2005 with the appointment of a dean for Extended Education and summer school. The mission of Extended Education is to serve the professional development and life long learning needs of our community. This mission and EE programs offered reflect the mission of the college. Extended Education’s goals and activities align with the college’s strategic plan and contribute to the achievement of the goals outlined therein.
Extended Education has completed its first two years as a pilot program. During this time the scope and number of course offerings, and training have increased. Student and participant evaluation of courses, workshops, and training indicate a consistently high degree of quality in EE’s offerings. Enrollment in EE courses went from 594 in 2005-06 to 1191 in 2006-07. As it begins its third year, Extended Education holds solid promise for financial viability (Extended Education Annual Report 2006-07 and Extended Education Annual Report 2005-06).
Extended Education’s course offerings and programs are compatible with the college’s mission in providing opportunities for students to excel in meeting their intellectual, creative, professional, and/or community service goals. EE serves students at Evergreen as well as members of the larger community in Thurston, Mason, Lewis, and Pierce counties (Extended Education Marketing Survey, Extended Education/Summer School Market Survey Presentation, and Extended Education Catalog Spring 2007; Extended Education Catalog Winter 2007; Extended Education Catalog Fall 2006).
Extended Education’s offerings are administered under established institutional procedures in that Extended Education is managed by an academic dean selected by the usual institutional procedures for the appointment of deans, who rotate into academic administration from the faculty. The responsibility for the administration of Extended Education is clearly defined and its administration is an integral component of the institution’s organization as evidenced by the appointment of a dean for Extended Education who reports directly to the provost and through him to the president and board of trustees (see Organization chart).
Extended Education is guided in program development by the provost, the Deans’ Group and the Extended Education Advisory Committee. Members on the advisory committee represent the faculty, the academic division, and all other major divisions at The Evergreen State College (Extended Education Advisory Committee Membership 2007-08). Full-time faculty as well as part-time faculty are represented on the Extended Education Advisory Committee and as such are involved in the planning and evaluation of EE offerings. Given that Extended Education is a pilot program voted in by the faculty at The Evergreen State College, provisions were made for periodic evaluation over a period of three and five years. Extended Education is scheduled for its first review in fall 2008.
Extended Education offerings focus on three areas:
- 1. Courses offered for academic credit that are also open on a limited basis to community participants not seeking academic credit (blended courses);
- 2. Workshops and contracted online courses not offered for academic credit;
- 3. Custom training for professional skill development.
Academic Credit Courses
The granting of credit for Extended Education courses is based on institutional policy. Ten contact hours are required for each academic credit. Students are expected to meet the learning objectives and course requirements in order to earn academic credit. Students’ work is evaluated by the faculty and a narrative evaluation specifying number of credits awarded is submitted to the registrar upon completion of the course. Extended Education courses offered for academic credit are approved by the dean of Extended Education in consultation with the EE Advisory Committee and the curriculum deans. Faculty teaching academic credit-bearing courses through Extended Education are reviewed and evaluated according to standard institutional procedures for adjunct faculty (Extended Education Enrollment 2006-2007; Extended Education Enrollment 2005-06).
Academic credit-bearing courses offered through Extended Education are subject to the same tuition, fees, registration procedures, and refund policies established for the college as a whole. Students enrolled at the college for between ten and eighteen credits who register for EE credit must pay separately for EE course credit. Extended Education does not offer academic credit-bearing courses through electronically mediated or other delivery systems.
The Evergreen State College is solely responsible for the academic and fiscal elements of all programs offered through Extended Education. Extended Education does not contract or partner with non-accredited organizations to offer courses for academic credit.
- Obtain faculty approval of a policy permitting continuing faculty to teach courses and/or workshops through Extended Education.
- Examine current enrollment patterns in the Olympia day and Evening Weekend curriculum to determine potential for expansion of Extended Education’s revenue base by meeting additional needs of adult and part-time learners.
- Expand custom training to meet the needs of local businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.
- Obtain dedicated administrative and classroom space.
- Establish a market-based compensation system for faculty and instructors in Extended Education.
- Prepare for a comprehensive review of the program that examines issues of the relation of the credit generating aspects of EE with attention to competition or duplication of efforts in Evening and Weekend Studies, issues of eligibility for employment, compensation, and costs for students.
- Review over-all financial viability of Extended Education program and offerings.
Evergreen has had a “self-supporting” summer school since 1981. Evergreen’s summer school is critical to augmenting declining funding from the state and also provides opportunities for faculty to augment their income during the summer. Over the past ten years, an average of 1,577 students per year have enrolled in summer school. Enrollment has declined in the last two years, but revenues have remained steady due to tuition increases and reductions in expenditures (Summer School Enrollment Trends 2004-2007).
In 2007, 1,424 students enrolled in summer school. Of these students, 86.5% were continuing degree-seeking Evergreen students, 4.6% were new summer school students who continued to fall 2007, and 8.5% were students new to Evergreen who did not continue to fall 2007. Total revenue for summer school 2007 was $2,311,757 (Summer School Student Demographics 2004-2007).
Almost all summer offerings are freestanding courses ranging from two to eight credits per session. Most of the courses are taught by a single faculty member and are more reflective of traditional disciplinary studies than are the interdisciplinary, team-taught programs offered during the regular academic year.
The process for developing the summer school curriculum has remained fairly consistent over the past ten years. The first step is to analyze enrollment data from the previous summer and to review the academic calendar for the forthcoming year to help determine market demand and prerequisite requirements. This information is sent to the faculty along with a letter asking them to submit course proposals for summer school. Proposals submitted are reviewed by the planning unit coordinators, curriculum deans, and graduate program directors, who advise the summer school dean regarding curricular needs.
In 2006, the college contracted with an external market research firm to conduct a market survey that assessed interest in and new prospective markets for Extended Education and summer school. The survey was collaboratively designed by Institutional Research and Assessment and the dean of Extended Education and summer school, and funding was provided by Institutional Research. The survey collected contact information from interested participants who wanted more information about future courses; thus the market survey also served to generate prospect mailing lists. A diverse group of staff and faculty attended the final presentation, as there was potential value from this study for graduate program directors, admissions recruiters, advancement, college relations, other academic deans, and other staff members. This study was useful in informing the summer curriculum and course scheduling for 2007 and, together with previous summer school enrollment data, provided a basis for the summer school dean to solicit proposals to meet market demand (Extended Education Marketing Survey and Extended Education/Summer School Market Survey Presentation).
During 2006, considerable effort went into developing a new format for our summer school course listings for 2007. The course-listing catalog mirrored that of Extended Education. The new format made it easier to locate course descriptions by disciplinary area and the catalog was more attractive and easier to navigate than the course listing used in prior years.
The most important summer school issue is to maximize summer revenues to support college operations by matching college offerings with demand. An important benefit of this is to provide support for faculty members in the design of popular, economically viable summer offerings.
- Survey students in the spring to determine their needs and interests in courses for summer school.
- Create flexibility in the curriculum development process to permit addressing needs/interests identified by student survey.
- Analyze regular academic year enrollment patterns to determine predictive value for summer enrollment.
- Use analysis to “size” and “shape” the curriculum to market demand.
- Assess the quality of student experience and learning.
Standard 2.H – Non-Credit Programs and Courses
Extended Education non-credit programs and courses are subject to and administered under relevant institutional policies, regulations, and procedures. Faculty are involved in planning and evaluating non-credit programs through their representation on the Extended Education Advisory Committee. The faculty as a whole will also be involved in a third- and-fifth year review of the financial viability and quality of the Extended Education program.
Extended Education maintains the following records for all non-credit courses:
- 1. Course/workshop enrollment records that include name, address, Social Security or Evergreen ID number, and telephone and e-mail contact information.
- 2. Course descriptions, fees, and faculty resumes.
- 3. Fee collection and deposit records.
- 4. Workshop instructors’ files containing contact information, current resume, course/workshop proposals, and participant evaluations of courses offered by instructor.
- 5. Detailed and summary evaluations of all custom training.
Extended Education contracts with Education To Go (a division of Thompson Learning, Inc.) for all of its online non-academic credit bearing courses. Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) are currently offered in partnership with St. Peter Hospital for CME and CNE units and with the National Association of Social Workers, Washington Chapter for CEU’s. These limited offerings meet all administrative requirements and provide ten hours of instruction per CEU awarded (Contract with Thomson Learning).
Extended Education currently provides custom training for professional skill development in management and in human resources. It contracts with the Washington State Department of Personnel to provide training in these areas for state employees (Contract with the Department of Personnel).
- Obtain faculty approval of a policy permitting continuing faculty to teach courses and/or workshops through Extended Education.
- Expand custom training to meet the needs of local businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.
- Develop an online registration system for not-for-academic-credit-offerings.
- Obtain dedicated administrative and classroom space.
- Establish a market-based compensation system for faculty and instructors in Extended Education.
Standard 2 Findings and Conclusions
1.) There is strong congruency between Evergreen’s mission as a public, interdisciplinary, liberal arts college, its educational practices and philosophy, the experiences of students at the college, and the outcomes for its graduates.
2.) Evergreen’s willingness to identify and promote public interdisciplinary liberal arts provides a strong alternative account of the democratic value, as opposed to the purely economic value, of public education.
3.) Evergreen’s success with non-selective admissions and a relatively diverse population demonstrate that this model works well for the least to the best prepared.
4.) The Five Foci of an Evergreen Education and the Six Expectations of an Evergreen Graduate provide a powerful grounding for reflexive thinking and personal responsibility as students explore not only the subject matter, but deal with the issue of how they know what they know and try to understand the implications of this knowledge for themselves and their community.
5.) The college has worked hard at the process of renewing its faculty as the first generation retires. The college is still significantly informed by the concern for learning, student autonomy, interdisciplinary work, and social responsibility that cohort exemplified.
6.) Figuring out how to include or provide effective professional, career-oriented instruction in the context of an evolving interdisciplinary curriculum is difficult. Nevertheless, the college affirms that that is the best approach to professional areas of student learning and is possible with the right faculty.
7.) The success of Evening and Weekend Studies, especially in course work, has led to more consistent availability of prerequisites, language training, arts, mathematics, and psychology. The area has produced creative half-time programs and has supported work in programs across the curriculum. Yet the disaggregating of the curriculum into smaller/shorter programs, and the consequent broader array of curricular choices, has led to unintended consequences for the quality of learning, advising, and interdisciplinary work at the college. Better coordination of EWS offerings with the work of other planning units is a continuing issue.
8.) Planning and governance time commitments are extensive. The growth of the institution, the increasing pressure from external sources, and the establishment of faculty collective bargaining suggest a need to reexamine faculty governance.
9.) The college has worked well with Native American communities in the region to foster reservation–based programs and opportunities for a Tribal Master of Public Administration degree. The college stands out nationally in service to Native American populations and regional Native communities.
10.) The college has significantly improved its assessment processes, data collection, and analysis. Much of this work is reflected in reports for off-campus agencies and accountability. While Institutional Research has been able to share much of its work through summer institutes, finding ways to share data more effectively with the campus to help foster improvements in instruction and curriculum design is an important goal.
1.) Evergreen remains an important college at the national level as a model of public education that values and fosters democratic engagement, public participation, and self-aware responsible citizenship.
2.) Evergreen’s five foci and six expectations have been successful in promoting reflexive thinking and exceptional engagement on the part of students and faculty across the curriculum.
3.) The college has been very successful in expanding services to and engagement with Native American communities at multiple levels.
4.) While the success of Evening and Weekend Studies, especially in course work, has led to more consistent availability of certain subjects, the college needs to carefully manage the tension between the demand for course work and the provision of longer, inquiry-based interdisciplinary programs.
5.) The college’s graduates are successful and generally very pleased with their work at the college.
6.) The review period has covered the implementation period of the 1995 Long Range Curriculum Report and the reorganization of the curriculum into planning units. Planning units have provided a degree of stability to the structure of the curriculum, although not necessarily to student paths through the curriculum. Early stages of the Curricular Visions process identified a need for greater flexibility in inter-area programming and hiring. The Thematic Planning Groups reflect this concern.
1.) Evergreen’s capacity to link its mission, activities, and educational outcomes indicates institutional coherence.
2.) Evergreen faculty are to be commended for their continuing concern for innovation and improvement in their teaching and professional development.
3.) The infusing of concerns for diversity widely across the curriculum reflects Evergreen's continuing concern for social justice and the impact of reflexive thinking on students' understanding of their position and responsibility in society.
4.) Evergreen’s willingness to continue to see student autonomy at the core of student learning is indicative of the college’s ongoing willingness to take risks to allow students to create authentic, personally meaningful education.
1.) The college must follow through on the good start that has been made in the Curricular Visions DTF.
2.) The college should explore governance options to build capacity to respond to external pressures and act effectively within the college.
3.) The college should focus attention on inter-area and Core teaching and may strengthen these areas through the use of Thematic Planning Groups.
4.) The curriculum deans and faculty need to continue to maintain a balance between opportunities for large-scale, yearlong, thematic programs and shorter programs for introductory, breadth, and advanced work, remembering that three-quarter programs can be very effective sites for advanced work, advising, and reflexive learning. The deans should also pursue better coordination, articulation, and integration between the EWS curriculum and the daytime curriculum.
5.) The faculty should explore mechanisms to provide systematic faculty-student advising across the curriculum.
6.) The curriculum deans and faculty should continue to work on developing and supporting a strong first-year cohort proposal, and, with Student Affairs, strengthen the first-year experience and support student retention.
7.) The college should expand support for Institutional Research to further facilitate reflection and action by the faculty in response to findings.