As a requirement of reaccreditation, each institution must undertake a major Quality Initiative designed to suit its present concerns or aspirations. A Quality Initiative may be designed to begin and be completed during the designated time period (in FLC’s case, between 2012-13 and 2014-15) it may continue an initiative already in progress or achieve a key milestone in the work of a longer initiative. The Quality Initiative is intended to allow institutions to take risks, aim high, and if so be it, learn from only partial success or even failure.
Fort Lewis College’s QI is entitled “Maps to Student Success: Implementation of a Degree Tracking System.” This project executes key elements of Strategic Plan Action Items 1.a.i-iii, and was selected over other options in the Strategic Plan through the faculty governance process in Spring 2012. The project plan was approved by the Higher Learning Commission for implementation in October 2012.
The goal of the QI is to transform our current loosely coupled system of course offering and course taking into a tightly coupled system, which we are calling a degree tracking system.
The four strategies to achieve that goal are:
- Formalization of the curriculum sequences in each of the majors and options through “maps to graduation”;
- Creation of four-year instructional plans that execute those maps;
- Implementation of a new degree-planning and tracking technology programmed with the degree maps and the instructional plans;
- Development of a policy framework for degree completion.
The premise of the QI is that making the degree programs’ curricula more easily navigable will lead to improved four-year graduation rates. While there are many reasons students do not graduate “on time,” the College should make sure it has done all it can to remove any institutional obstacles that may exist because of the design and offering of its curriculum.
In the QI’s first year, 2012-13, the following objectives were accomplished:
- Degree maps were developed and published in the 2013-14 Catalog of Courses and provided to the entering freshman class during New Student Orientation;
- The degree planning and tracking technology known as u.achieve offered by College Source was selected after an extensive evaluation of available products;
- Progress was made on the policy framework for degree completion.
The major objectives for 2013-14 are:
- Development of efficient processes to update degree maps in response to curriculum changes;
- Implementation of the u.achieve degree planning and tracking technology;
- Completion of the policy framework for degree completion.