Managing Programmatic Assessment & Third Party Accreditation
Crowder College is a two year community college in Southwest Missouri with a student body of approximately 6,000 students. The institution is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission AQIP pathway. In recent years, the college has experienced phenomenal growth in all areas, including the number of students served and the number of locations where courses are taught. In response to this growth and HLC expectations, the institution chose to purchase the CampusWide™ platform of Tk20 to document assessment initiatives across the institution. This commentary provides an overview of how one program, nursing, has chosen to integrate Tk20 into its assessment structure.
The current associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) program started in 1987 with 50 students on one campus who were enrolled in a traditional program-of-study. The program had a handful of instructors and clinical placements were made in the local medical facilities. The program has since grown to over 300 ADN students at four different locations spread over a wide geographic area. A variety of delivery modes are utilized across instructional sites. Medical facilities throughout the region host Crowder nursing students and many clinical instructors supervising the students.
A Case Study by Dr. Sherry Wilson & Ms. Patsy Garner, Co-Chairs Assessment Committee, Crowder College
The rapid growth of the nursing program made existing practices, especially assessment utilizing pencil and paper documentation, unwieldy. Instructors and students were drowning in a sea of paperwork; data collection was difficult and time consuming. Analysis of the results was even more laborious. The students and faculty members needed a systematic means of electronically collecting data and disseminating the information to relevant audiences. To complicate the situation, the nursing program was also in the process of applying for NLN accreditation. Utilization of Tk20 to relieve the paperwork bottleneck, to ensure systematic data collection, and to provide ease of data analysis was the chosen solution.
The clinical evaluation process was identified as the most pressing need. The existing process required students to complete an evaluation for each clinical rotation. Instructors provided their assessment on the form and the completed form was then sent to the central office to be stored. Misplaced paperwork was an issue and significant time was spent requesting missing forms from students and faculty members. This paperwork dilemma was addressed by using the Field Experience component of Tk20 to create and store evaluations completed by students, clinical instructors, and faculty at various clinical placement sites. The existing clinical evaluation forms were created in Tk20. Students and instructors now complete the form in Tk20. Together, they view and discuss the completed forms as they are displayed side-by-side which finishes the assessment process. Documentation of the student’s progress is acknowledged with an electronic signature located at the end of the form. Field Experience reports allow instructors and program administrators to determine which clinical evaluations have been completed and to quickly track the placements and progress of individual students over time as well as analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the various subgroups of students. Another benefit of the Field Experience Binder is that additional artifacts to document other skills and knowledge may be collected. The nursing students complete SYM Charts for their patients during each clinical rotation. Previously, students’ charts were stored in a file cabinet in the nursing program offices. Now, students upload one chart each semester into their Field Experience binder to document completion of the assignment.
An additional program process, the Systematic Review, required documentation for the upcoming accreditation visit by NLN. This document, which shows how the program specifically addresses each accreditation standard, had been available for many years, but it needed to be widely accessible so various stakeholders could more easily review and update the document to reflect program decisions made based on data collected. The document was transferred into the Planning component of Tk20 to better track the assessment process for the overall program in relation to the specific program outcomes as linked to the NLN accreditation standards. Because the data is stored electronically, multiple stakeholders now systematically contribute to the assessment plan. The nursing program uses the Planning features to document the completion of the entire assessment loop from establishment of assessment measures and data collection through analysis of the data to document evidence based decisions. Planning reports provide a visual snapshot of the assessment process at any given point in time as well as a longitudinal review of the program over time.
Field Experience capabilities in Tk20 allow the nursing program to better document students’ learning across the various program competencies. Additionally, the nursing instructors now have the ability to quickly answer many questions about their students’ clinical experiences both as individuals and as a group. The Field Experience reports graphically illustrate students’ performance in the various skills associated with the clinical evaluation. A notes area can be used to document why a student received a particular score and what remediation plans have been put into place for a struggling student. Plus, faculty members can quickly pull up the information to let them know the students’ overall progress in the program. This information is particularly valuable for the clinical instructor who is evaluating the student the next semester. Additional artifacts such as the SYM Chart stored in Tk20 are accessible for review as needed. The Planning component facilitates the use of the Systematic Review as a “living document” since assessment data is regularly updated and analyzed. Program changes are now based on input from an even wider base of stakeholders who have carefully chosen measures that inform best practice in the field of nursing.
Crowder College looks forward to partnering with Tk20 to increase the use of CampusWide™ for additional nursing program assessment. The Field Experience binders will be expanded to include evaluations of the students’ skill specific rotations such as psychological and obstetric placements. Documentation, such as records of immunizations and copies of background checks, can also be added to the binders. The Survey feature can be used to collect student and other stakeholder feedback. The Application component can be used to eliminate program admission paperwork and facilitate a more streamlined admissions process.