Assessment at NPC
Assessment of student learning is a continual process of analysis designed to improve
student learning outcomes at National Park College (NPC). Quality instruction that
leads to student success is the cornerstone of our mission and purpose. To do this,
every course, program, and degree is subject to assessment review by the College’s
Curriculum and Assessment Committee (CAC). Through shared governance and faculty input,
the College has standardized student learning expectations within every course and
program on campus, and has implemented a system of assessment to monitor how successful
our students are at meeting those expectations.
The CAC is led by faculty representing every division at the College, and reflects
NPC’s desire to make assessment an integral part of our teaching culture. The assessment
process is comprised of the following elements as outlined by the CAC.
Assessment in 8 Steps
Defining Our Expected Student Learning Outcomes
All classes at NPC have undergone a review of course, program, and college-level objectives
through a faculty-driven process. The development of quality, measurable objectives
allows NPC to establish effective standards for student learning outcomes, and provides
a common target to measure teaching success in the classroom.
The CAC oversees the origination of new programs and courses, the creation of effective
objectives, and determining how curriculum changes might improve student success.
This is a holistic, comprehensive approach that also considers the impact on student
completion timelines, the needs of our transfer partners, and potential issues with
financial aid requirements.
Implementing Assessment Plans
The CAC directs faculty to assess student learning through a variety of assessment
procedures. NPC focuses on four areas of assessment: General Education, Program, Co-Curricular,
and Institutional surveys. Assessment is designed to ensure that NPC’s institutional
General Education Objectives (GEOs) are being met throughout the curriculum; that
college programs are satisfying the learning outcomes required by their accreditors,
employers, and partner transfer schools; and that the entire college experience contributes
to growth and success for our students.
NPC strives to collect quality data in four areas of student outcome assessment. For
General Education, we utilize faculty-designed common assessments that provide excellent,
comparable data for measuring GEO attainment in our foundational courses.
For Program assessment, Deans and faculty have developed specific rubrics and reporting
documents to collect student outcomes in the required skills and competencies necessary
for successful program completion, as well as tracking student licensure and certification
pass rates on industry-standard exams.
Co-Curriculum assessment uses a common worksheet that simplifies data collection and
ensures quality assessments are procured with every eligible campus event.
Campus-wide, NPC administers institutional SSI and NSSE surveys, as well as a comprehensive
Graduation Survey to exiting students.
Analyzing and Reporting Assessment Data
Assessment data is collected via the college LMS and file sharing repositories accessed
by the college’s Deans. Whenever possible, student learning outcomes are reported
using uniform scoring rubrics and faculty worksheets. From this information, Chairs
compile both quantitative and qualitative data for discussion with faculty, and from
these discussions ultimately create assessment reports for the CAC.
Communication with Faculty
One of the critical steps in the assessment process is engaging faculty in a thorough
analysis of their assessment data. Can you identify the obstacles to student success
in your class? Are the course assessments effective? Is there any professional development
needed to improve your teaching of this objective? All assessment procedures are reviewed
with faculty to ascertain the efficacy of this process.
Developing Improvement Strategies
Upon faculty review, Deans will develop improvement strategies for the final report
to the CAC. These strategy decisions will always include faculty input, specific rationales
for any proposed changes, and the targeted goals new initiatives hope to achieve in
subsequent annual reviews.
Allocating Resources to Enhance Student Success
Deans are required to update the CAC on all assessment progress, highlight any concerns
or improvements, and present future changes to assessment in their final report. A
key element in this process will be to suggest any allocation (or re-allocation) of
school funds to bolster professional development for faculty, improve necessary equipment
or technology, and/or identify staffing needs to improve student success.
General Education Philosophy
General Education courses are governed by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education
(ADHE), and comprise the state-mandated 35-hour core curriculum all bachelor’s degree-seeking
students must successfully complete for graduation in the state of Arkansas. The primary
goal of General Education at National Park College (NPC) is to provide all students
with a broad-based academic foundation regardless of degree path. General Education
courses are an integral component of our Associate of Arts degree, specialized transfer
degrees, and many program-specific degrees and certificates.
At NPC, General Education courses are designed to specifically strengthen and affirm
the college’s four institutional General Education Objectives (GEOs):
Communicate effectively using oral, written, and electronic methods
Use critical and analytical thinking skills
Demonstrate discipline-specific knowledge, skills, and competencies
Exemplify professional demeanor, ethical behavior, and respect for diversity
Within this process, General Education at NPC strives to help students become lifelong
learners with the foundational skills needed to develop their full potential as contributing
members of society. By fostering improved communication skills, critical thinking,
discrete knowledge, and the social skills necessary to operate within a global environment,
our students become better citizens, employees, and neighbors.
NPC firmly believes in the value of liberal education, and the role it can play in
transforming the lives of our students. NPC upholds the
statement of the AAC&U regarding the enduring value of liberal education. To do this, NPC has developed
a thorough process of General Education assessment to ensure the core curriculum delivers
consistent academic rigor and effective support of the college GEOs.
Additionally, NPC engages in curriculum oversight for all General Education courses.
Programs are regularly reviewed for both state and external agencies. The office of
the Vice President of Academic Affairs regularly submits faculty qualifications to
our accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), to ensure we maintain
a knowledgeable and credentialed faculty. Our Curriculum and Assessment Committee
reviews the pre-requisites, course objectives, and learning expectations for all credit-bearing
classes on campus. This process extends to all course delivery modes on campus, including
our night, online, and dual-credit high school courses.
Summary of General Education
NPC works diligently to maintain exceptional instruction in our General Education
courses, and has implemented a rigorous plan of assessment to ensure we deliver quality
instruction that mirrors our institutional values and goals. The college supports
General Education with professional development opportunities, robust faculty evaluation,
and financial support for General Education faculty and resources. These courses represent
the lifeblood of our curriculum, and are the foundational pieces that provide opportunities
of future success to our students.
Co-Curricular Assessment Philosophy
As part of National Park College’s (NPC) mission, “Learning is our focus; student
success is our goal,” Co-curricular assessments are used to collect information on
student learning outcomes outside of the classroom environment. Co-curricular learning
at NPC is defined as:
“Activities, programs, and experiences that complement traditional classroom learning.
These activities may or may not tie directly to specific course curricula.”
Co-curricular programs, activities, and experiences are evaluated based on alignment
of event objectives to the institutional GEOs. Faculty and staff that sponsor co-curricular
activities are required to fill out a special form prior to any event. This form establishes
the learning objectives for the event, which GEO(s) these objectives satisfy, and
how the sponsor intends to effectively measure student outcomes. These forms are kept
on file and made available to the appropriate Deans for review.
All co-curricular assessment data will be reviewed and analyzed like any other assessment
data on campus. These reports will then be submitted to the Curriculum and Assessment
Committee during the annual assessment reporting in September of each year.
The assessment of Co-curricular activities serves to affirm and support NPC’s accreditation
with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which emphasized the importance of co-curricular
assessment in their revised accreditation criteria adopted in February of 2019.
Program Assessment Philosophy
A program at National Park College (NPC) is any certificate or degree path accredited
by an external agency or governing body. To achieve these accreditations, NPC is required
to assess student learning outcomes in many program courses it offers. These program
courses develop the specific skills necessary for students to obtain certificates
and degrees, pass licensure exams, and successfully move on to further educational
or professional opportunities.
Our primary goal at NPC is provide students with the program-specific skills needed
to obtain employment in their chosen program area. We expect our students to possess
excellent communication skills, understand the ethical and professional requirements
of their field, and to work effectively as team members within a diverse setting.
Bettering the lives of our students and strengthening our community is instrumental
to our mission as a college, and the successful completion of NPC programs is elemental
to this process.
Program Assessment Procedure
NPC follows the requirements established by our accrediting bodies to properly assess
student outcomes. Assessment of NPC programs and their constituent courses is done
in a variety of ways at NPC, and not all programs assess in the same manner. Some
require assessment of student learning outcomes, while others measure certification
and licensure examination success rates.
Every program course at NPC contains Curriculum and Assessment Committee-approved
Course Level Objectives (CLOs) that are aligned to their specific Program Level Objectives
(PLOs). These alignments ensure that every course contributes in teaching the skills
needed to meet accreditation requirements.
At the end of every academic year, NPC programs will update their assessment pages.
An annual assessment report will be compiled by the Deans and discussed with program
faculty members. The assessment report, the minutes of faculty meetings, and the concerns/recommendations
that derive from this process will then be submitted to the Curriculum and Assessment
Committee for review.
National Park College Accrediting Agencies