Continuous Improvement

The AFTSE and the university have collaborated on a number of changes since the last full re-accreditation visit in fall, 2004, to enhance the effectiveness of faculty, programming and service delivery as part of the unit's continuous improvement. These changes include: a reduction in faculty workload; the addition of a number of physical and curricular resources including the Bellarmine University Regional Assessment Clinic; the addition of a comprehensive database to track candidates in all programs; and the development and administration of a unit survey to full-time and adjunct faculty and exiting candidates.

The university made the decision to gradually reduce full-time tenure-track faculty teaching loads from 24 hours per 9-month academic year to 21 hours, with full implementation by fall 2009. This decision was based on increased emphasis by the university on faculty scholarly activity, and the requirements for successful tenure and promotion relative to scholarship. The AFTSE has welcomed this reduction in light of its own emphasis on research and scholarly work, and its emphasis on collaboration with the professional education community. AFTSE faculty have strong scholarly agendas, which have been bolstered by the workload reduction. Tenure-track faculty will continue their productivity with regard to scholarship, particularly in the area of evidence-based practices that promote P-12 student learning.

Over the past five years, the AFTSE secured funds to add a computer lab in Allen Hall. The computer lab was installed to accommodate candidates and faculty. Since Allen Hall is a significant distance from the main campus, a separate computer lab for the unit was essential. Over this same period of time, the unit has installed interactive whiteboards and projectors in classrooms designated to the unit. The unit has also secured a number of other instructional technologies: two sets of student response systems (each set has 32 student response devices), six laptops, four flip video cameras, one portable projector, and one document camera. These technologies are stored in the AFTSE and can be checked out by faculty and staff for instructional use in their classrooms or while working with candidates in partner schools. Candidates are also encouraged to check out these technologies for use in their classrooms during their field experiences and the professional semester. All candidates are prepared to use these tools in EDUC 116: Computer Applications in Education (initial certification), and EDUG 615: Computer Applications in Education (advanced programs).

To enhance the use of instructional technology by faculty and candidates, Information Services increased their bandwidth to the Internet by 50% to 150 Million bits per second (in each direction) in the summer 2011. They plan to add another 50 Mb/s in the spring 2012. The Information Technology department spends $55,000 per year to ensure candidates fast, reliable connectivity. Bellarmine's network is very reliable (300 Megabits per second on a metro ring with two paths off campus). There is also a 14 Mbps backup link to ensure candidates have access to the Bellarmine network both on and off campus. To ensure that faculty and staff have the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct their jobs and prepare candidates with the skills and knowledge they need to meet Kentucky Teacher Standard 6 and NETS*T, the university has a Faculty Development Center that conducts a variety of technology workshops (Exhibit 6.3.i.3). In addition, the Instructional Technology instructor in the unit has provided a number of Brown Bag workshops on technologies (e. g., weblogs, wikis, Facebook, SmartBoard, Web 2.0 applications and Student Response Systems) faculty can use to support instruction in their courses. Representatives from SmartTechnologies, LiveText and Kentucky Educational Television's online technology resources have conducted instructional workshops on their respective products to assist faculty and staff in the effective implementation of these technologies in their courses. The unit intends to continue this emphasis on instructional technology professional development and maintaining state-of-the-art equipment for educating both faculty and candidates.

Over the past year, the AFTSE has been collaborating with the registrar's office and the office of Information Services to develop a new database, the Degree Audit Portlet within Constituent Relationship Module – Student, which will allow the unit and the registrar's office to track candidates from enrollment through graduation or program completion. This new database interfaces with the online program, LiveText, which is used by all AFTSE faculty and candidates for the collecting, scoring and grading of AFTSE benchmarks and anchor assessments. This database will provide comprehensive individual and aggregate data for candidate progress and program analysis, and will greatly assist in continuously improving the accuracy of program data.

Three recent additions to the unit include The Bellarmine University Regional Assessment Clinic (BURAC), the Bellarmine Center for Teaching Excellence and Leadership (BCTEL), and the Bellarmine Center for Economic Education (BCEE). Each of these centers contributes to the professional development and resources of the faculty, candidates, and community. The BURAC provides candidates, in collaboration with unit faculty, truly authentic experiences working with struggling learners and students with disabilities in conducting assessments, designing interventions, and consulting with parents and classroom teachers. To assist in this mission, the BURAC has secured $22,673 in grants for the purchase of assistive technologies for faculty and candidate use in the clinic (Exhibit 6.3.i.4). The Bellarmine Center for Teaching Excellence and Leadership (BCTEL) provides faculty, staff, candidates and all educators in the region a place to meet and engage in dialogue with other educators as well as attend educational workshops. The BCEE is a collaborative effort with the Kentucky Council on Economic Education. Its mission is to provide faculty, staff, candidates, practicing teachers and community members with economic education resources to increase financial literacy. The center has a library of materials on financial education, including ready-made lesson plans, and conducts workshops and economic conferences (Exhibit 6.3.i.5). These centers not only enhance the knowledge and skills of faculty and candidates, but provide a comprehensive resource to education professionals in the community. As part of its commitment to continuous improvement, the unit has plans to expand the professional development offerings of the BCEE and add psychological assessment services to the BURAC (Exhibit 6.3.i.6).

Perhaps the most recent change to the unit is the development, administration, and analysis of a new "Unit Survey" for full-time and adjunct faculty and candidates who are exiting from initial and advanced programs (Exhibits 6.3.a.2, 6.3.a.3). The unit determined that a number of its processes and programmatic elements were not being sufficiently evaluated, including the quality of candidate advising and availability of resources such as current technologies. The unit piloted the survey with faculty and exiting candidates in spring 2012, and presented the results to the ACE and unit faculty. Faculty and candidates were given the opportunity to add comments to each survey question for additional feedback (Exhibit 6.3.a.4).

Results indicated that faculty and candidates are generally satisfied with the various components assessed by the survey, but areas for improvement have been noted (Exhibit 6.3.a.5). Additionally, the unit has noted the need to revise some of the survey questions to be more explanatory to achieve precise feedback for action. The surveys will be revised in summer 2012, with data continuing to be collected in the 2012-13 academic year. The Unit Survey will provide needed feedback in a variety of areas not previously assessed as an integral part of continuous improvement.

Exhibits

6.3.a.2 Faculty Survey

6.3.a.3 Unit Candidate Exit Survey

6.3.a.4 Unit Survey Faculty and Candidate Comments

6.3.a.5 Candidate and Faculty Unit Survey Results

6.3.i.3 Faculty Development Center

6.3.i.4 Assistive Technologies for BURAC

6.3.i.5 BCTEL and BCEE Workshops

6.3.i.6 BURAC Annual Report

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