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The New Core, WASC & Accreditation
How are the Core and the syllabus approval process relevant to our re-accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges?
WASC has requested that "student learning outcomes [which we refer to as objectives] and expectations for student attainment are clearly stated at the course, program, and, as appropriate, institutional level," and that these learning objectives and expectations be included on syllabi.
Do other universities also have to follow WASC’s guidelines?
Yes. WASC accredits more than 150 institutions in the West. All institutions accredited by WASC have been asked to include student learning objectives on syllabi and to ensure that students are achieving those learning objectives.
WASC-accredited institutions with Comprehensive Reviews scheduled during the next three years have been asked to address these issues either in their reports or in addenda to the reports. We are currently drafting our Capacity and Preparatory Report for a 2009 site visit and will complete an Educational Effectiveness Report for a 2011 site visit. Other regional accrediting agencies have similar requirements.
Is this emphasis on syllabi, learning objectives, and student learning new?
Yes and no. WASC issued revised guidelines in 2008 but the principles are not new. After our last accreditation review (1998-99) WASC asked SCU to initiate a regular cycle of program review and to engage faculty more fully in assessing student learning.
What will the WASC Visiting Teams look for when they come to SCU in 2009 and 2011?
The visiting team for our Capacity Review (2009) is instructed, inter alia, to “audit and verify the information provided [in the report]” and to “evaluate key institutional resources, structures, and processes.”
The visiting team for our Educational Effectiveness Review (2011) receives the following instructions: “to assure due diligence on the part of the institution...a sample of key processes and issues will be selected by the team in advance of the visit for review and auditing. Teams will use a combination of approaches to gather evidence while on campus – for example, sampling specific administrative processes and procedures to verify that they are followed or in place, reviews of documentary evidence, and structured interviews.” See the WASC Handbook of Accreditation, “The Institutional Review Process” revised 07/2008, www.wascsenior.org.