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Higher Learning Commission Accreditation Review


Core Component 3a: The organization’s goals for student learning outcomes are clearly stated for each educational program and make effective assessment possible.
Core Component 3b: The organization values and supports effective teaching.
Core Component 3c: The organization creates effective learning environments.
Core Component 3d: The organization’s learning resources support student learning and effective teaching.
Criterion 3 Summary



The organization provides evidence of student learning and teaching effectiveness that demonstrates it is fulfilling its educational mission.


The University of Northern Iowa is characterized by long-standing commitments to student learning and excellence in teaching.  The mission of the University [1] reflects the centrality of teaching and learning to the goals for the institution.  The Professor interacting with studentsUniversity’s commitment to “Students First” is evident in its attention to student growth and development both inside and outside of the classroom.  Commitment to transparency and accountability with respect to student learning can be seen in the University’s involvement in the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) and in the Foundations of Excellence® self-study of the first-year experience at UNI. 


In January 2007, President Allen was appointed by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) to serve on a 12-member advisory committee for the National Commission on University Accountability.  The advisory committee, along with several other administrators from public colleges and universities, developed the VSA Project.  UNI became an “early adopter” of VSA’s College Portrait of Undergraduate Education.  College Portrait is a Web site that gives viewers an overview of each participating institution, including information on academics, tuition costs, financial aid, student life, student experiences and perceptions, and student learning outcomes. [2]


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Core Component 3a: The organization’s goals for student learning outcomes are clearly stated for each educational program and make effective assessment possible.

Formalized assessment of student learning began with a 1990 Board of Regents policy requiring that all three of the Regent institutions develop and implement outcomes assessment plans.  UNI’s first assessment policy statement was competed in 1991, and departmental assessment plans were in operation by the 1993-1994 school year.  In 1997, the Board of Regents merged student outcomes assessment with the Academic Program Review process, a yearly report to the Board of Regents from program areas undergoing program review for the year.   Since the last reaccreditation visit in 2001, assessment policies and procedures at UNI have continued to develop.  The number of departments and programs with assessment plans has also increased since 2001, particularly since the 2006-2007 academic year, with the ultimate goal of 100% participation in active assessment planning and activity across departments and programs. 


An Overview of Assessment of Student Learning in Academic Programs

The Student Outcomes Assessment Policy for academic programs requires that each academic program clearly state its student learning outcomes and explain how these goals will be assessed.  Each assessment plan includes assessment philosophy and program goals, student outcomes and competencies, frequency of assessments, assessment methods, and methods of evaluating and interpreting results.  Departments are required to submit an annual report of assessment results to the dean.  Beginning in 2009, reports were also to be filed with the Office of Academic Assessment.  The Office of Academic Assessment has developed a format and reporting cycle for annual updates on assessment plans and outcomes and created a system for archiving learning outcomes, assessment plans, and annual reports within the University assessment office.  All of these actions ensure that effective assessment linked to student learning outcomes occurs in academic programs. [3]


Student outcomes assessment is incorporated into the Academic Program Review (APR), which is conducted by program areas every seven years.  Program reviews include the assessment plan and assessment results by year since the last program review.  Student outcomes assessment plans for academic departments are developed by department heads and faculty.  The Director of Academic Assessment provides feedback on the Student Outcomes Assessment (SOA) plans to the department and to internal reviewers from the Committee on Academic Program Review.  Programs whose self studies are disapproved on the basis of their SOA plan are required to consult with the Director of Academic Assessment and submit a revised plan before receiving approval to continue the program review process. [4]

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Support for Academic Assessment

To ensure that the assessment of academic programs at UNI follows a consistent process in which the link between learning outcomes and assessment is clear, in July 2005, UNI established an Office of Academic Assessment.  The Office provides leadership for the planning and implementation of student outcomes assessment, academic program review, and other procedures that support academic program improvement, student learning, and accreditation. [5]  It offers workshops on assessment-related topics, consultation for faculty and staff working on assessment planning and implementation, a Web site with assessment resources, and an assessment mini-grant program to provide funds to departments for development of their assessment programs.  The Director of Academic Assessment works closely with the colleges, Liberal Arts Core Coordinator, Office of Institutional Research, and Office of Sponsored Programs, which houses the Institutional Review Board. 


The College of Education also has a Director of student teachingAssessment, who is charged with developing systems and providing support for assessment in the UNI teacher education programs.  The College has a computerized system called the UNI Teacher Education Database (UNITED) [6] which allows faculty to track individual student progress through the teacher education program and archive evaluations of students in field experiences and in a project-based assessment called the Teacher Work Sample.  The system also aggregates reports of student performance in the program according to standards for teacher competencies.  This system has been offered to other departments on campus, and several departments are exploring its use.  The Office of Academic Assessment has also created a Web-based system for archiving assessment-related documentation, and several departments are experimenting with its use.


The Office of Academic Assessment maintains Web pages that provide faculty and staff with access to data from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress (MAPP) as well as student learning outcomes and assessment plans from each academic department.  The Student Outcomes Assessment Committee operated from 1993 to 2000 and was reinstated in 2006. [7]   The committee acts in an advisory role to the Director of Academic Assessment and helps facilitate communication regarding key assessment issues.


The University’s self-study in 2000 outlined five recommendations for the continuing development of consistent, clear and effective assessment practices on campus that are linked to student learning goals:

  1. Establish a Web-based source of SOA plans and reports that is accessible for reference by all faculty. SOA plans (current and archived) are posted on Web sites maintained by the Office of Academic Assessment.
  2. Expand integration and use of outcomes assessment data within the self-study portion of the Academic Program Review process.

    Since 2006, the student outcomes assessment plan (SOA) and data related to implementation of assessment plans have taken on increased importance in the self-study conducted by program areas as part of the Academic Program Review process.

  3. Provide regular and ongoing in-service opportunities and other professional development activities for involving new department heads and new members of departmental assessment committees in SOA.

    The Director of Academic Assessment consults with department heads and assessment committees and takes part in new-faculty orientation.

  4. Insure that the institutional research office provides adequate and appropriate data to support decisions for program improvement.

    The Office of Institutional Research [8] provides data for the UNI Fact Book, IPEDS, Academic Program Review, and institutional reports (including faculty activity, instruction cost, tenure reports, and unit cost reports).  It also conducts a variety of surveys and analyzes results.  The director is frequently consulted to provide support and assistance for programs and critical University initiatives.  In 2008, the Office of Institutional Research and the Registrar collaborated to offer departments a Web site with the data they needed to complete their academic program assessments.  This was followed by a similar Web site dedicated to departments conducting their Academic Program Reviews.

  5. Define more fully the role of the University Assessment Committee.

    The functions and operations of the University Student Outcome Assessment Committee have been redefined and are posted in a document on the Web page for the Office of Academic Assessment. [9]

Examples of Effective Assessment Linked to Student Learning Goals

Student learning outcomes and assessment procedures are required to be linked together at UNI in order to facilitate effective assessment.  In the Department of Geography, for example, the undergraduate BA in Geography has divided its student learning outcome into three areas: geographic knowledge, geographic skills and geographic methods.  Their SOA plan includes a disaggregate list of these learning outcomes.  For example, under Geographic Knowledge outcome 1A, “Students will be able to analyze and compare/contrast spatial distributions and patterns, spatial associations and relationships, and the underlying processes that shape these phenomena.”  The department lists specific examples of these principles:


1. Understanding geographic patterns

  • natural distributions (geomorphic, climatic, biogeographic)
  • economic, social, and cultural distributions

2. Spatial associations, comparing spatial distributions

  • natural/natural, e.g., climate/soil – relationship of cold ocean currents vs. deserts
  • human/human, e.g., ethnicity/religion
  • natural/human, e.g., relationship between climate and crops [10]

The department ties these and all its other learning outcomes directly to its SOA plan.  For example, all Geography majors prepare a portfolio that is evaluated by that department’s assessment committee before a student may graduate.  These portfolios are submitted anonymously and are judged on the program’s student learning outcomes on a five level scale based on an assessment rubric.


Figure 5.1  Scoring Rubric for Geography BA SLO I: Geographic Knowledge

Geographic Knowledge: Students will be able to understand, analyze, synthesize, and apply

core geographic principles, concepts, models, and phenomena.


Level 1. Articulation of geographic principles, concepts, models, and phenomena are generally below novice level. Examples are frequently uninformed or misinformed. There is little or no appreciation of patterns and processes operating across various geographic scales.


Level 2. Articulation of geographic principles, concepts, models, and phenomena are at the novice level, exhibiting superficiality. Examples are less frequently uninformed but may be frequently misinformed. There is modest appreciation for patterns and processes operating across various geographic scales.


Level 3. Articulation of geographic principles, concepts, models, and phenomena are fairly well developed. Examples are generally informed and seldom misinformed. There is clear evidence of appreciation for patterns and processes operating at various geographic scales.


Level 4. Articulation of geographic principles, concepts, models, and phenomena are very well developed. Examples are very well informed and never misinformed. There is a clear level of sophistication in description and inference. A well-developed appreciation for patterns and processes operating at various geographic scales is evident.


Level 5. Articulation of geographic principles, concepts, models, and phenomena are exceedingly well developed. Examples illustrate insight, creativity, and energy. There is clear evidence of superior appreciation for patterns and processes operating at various geographic scales. [11]


In addition to this portfolio review, students in this program also take a senior exam which is linked to the programs learning outcomes before they may graduate.  The department also uses a variety of indirect assessment techniques including exit interviews and alumni surveys.  In addition it collects job placement statistics on its former majors. [12] 


Numerous other examples of this close link between student learning goals and outcomes assessment can be found on the Office of Academic Assessment Web site, where most programs have posted their student learning outcomes and assessment plans. [13]


Highlights of Assessment Practices and Activities

Since the beginning of assessment procedures on campus and the establishment of the Office of Academic Assessment, the number of departments with statements of learning, student learning outcomes, and active assessment plans for their academic programs has continued to increase. 


An audit of assessment plans at the Regent universities in 2004 [14] recommended an increase in the use of direct methods of assessment in UNI assessment plans.  While some assessment plans still rely for the most part on indirect assessments such as satisfaction surveys and alumni questionnaires, departments are continuing to increase their use of direct assessments, including incorporating embedded assessments and making use of rubrics for evaluating student work.  The last several years have seen colleges, departments, and programs experimenting with a variety of direct methods for assessing student learning:

  • In addition to the Geography program cited in the previous section, a number of programs across the colleges are using portfolios as a tool for assessing student learning, including Instructional Technology in the College of Education, Mass Communication in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, and Political Science and Textiles and Apparel in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
  • The Interior Design program and Textiles and Apparel program invite outside, professional evaluators to assess their students’ portfolios and design shows.
  • The Master of Business Administration program in the College of Business Administration worked with EduMetry, a private company that helps faculty develop assessment tools and strategies, to develop rubrics for each learning objective for the degree.  The rubrics are use with such student work as case analyses, research projects, and presentations. 
  • The Master’s program in School and Mental Health Counseling incorporates live and videotaped observations of students’ practice counseling sessions and evaluates students for multicultural counseling skills.
  • The teacher education program has pursued a variety of projects and approaches for the improvement of assessment of student learning. The teacher education program required a teacher work sample from all student teachers beginning in fall 2005.  The work sample, evaluated by a team of faculty, provides direct evidence of students’ ability to incorporate their learning into their classroom performance.  Teacher education faculty engaged in a curriculum-mapping process to assure that professional standards for teacher preparation were addressed and provide improved coherence in the program.  One additional use of assessment-related data to improve academic programs comes from the teacher education program.  With the support of an Iowa Teacher Quality Enhancement grant, the teacher education faculty at UNI have taken specific steps to use assessment data collected on teaching candidates to improve the teacher education curriculum, pedagogy, and instructional resources.  Several Assessment to Action [15] projects have provided a process for coordinated program improvement.

At the University level, improvements have been made in structures and support for making use of assessment data to improve student learning.  Prior to 2009, departments used a variety of formats for reporting on assessment activity for the academic year; in fall 2009, a University-wide format for annual summary reports of assessment activity was put into place.  The report asks program areas to 1) indicate the learning outcomes assessed in the previous year, how they were assessed, what was learned, and how assessment data were shared, 2) outline action plans for changes suggested by the assessment data, and 3) provide an update on changes suggested in the previous year’s assessment report. [16]  The summary reports are archived in the Office of Academic Assessment.  After a survey of departmental practices showed a need for information on strategies for making use of information gained from assessments, the Director of Academic Assessment made contact with each department on campus to provide information on “closing the loop” and provided resources to guide conversations and decisions related to findings from assessment activities.  Some examples of program changes based on assessment data documented in annual program assessment reports include the following:

  • In response to a perceived need for additional methodology courses for archeology and cultural anthropology, the Anthropology program added summer field schools in 2008 and 2009 and updated departmental information files on field school opportunities world-wide.
  • The Textiles and Apparel program decided to add evidence of the design process—e.g., apparel specification sheets, miniature pattern pieces, and perhaps photographic proof of draping design—to student portfolios.
  • The Political Science program saw needs for development of Careers in Political Science seminars and for additional communication with adjunct instructors to ensure that courses taught by them adequately reflected program goals and outcomes.
  • In order to increase students’ skills in oral communication, the Women’s and Gender Studies program encouraged all faculty in the program to incorporate oral assignments at least once per semester.
  • As a result of information gained from assessment, the Technology Management program proposed adding courses in Technical Drawing and Design, Computer Applications in Industrial Technology, Project Management, and Product Development & Enterprise to its most recent proposal for curriculum revision.   
  • The Economics program added an experimental course on monetary theory to address a perceived weakness in macroeconomics. 
  • The Art program has begun to create a digital archive of student work to be used as a resource for assessing revisions made to the various programs. The digital archive will also be used in the Foundations exhibitions, which highlight examples of student work from specific courses in the Foundations program to help students see the importance of these courses and view examples of successful student work. 

Licensure and Certification Testing 

Participation in standardized testing for admission to a major or for licensure or certification for professional practice occurs in various academic programs at UNI. 

  • All students in the teacher education programs at UNI are required to pass PRAXIS I for admission to the program, and elementary candidates must pass PRAXIS II at the end of their programs.  Pass rates since 2006, when PRAXIS II was first required, have been near 100% for UNI students. [17]
  • Students intending to become Certified Public Accountants complete the CPA Examination.  For every year of the ten-year period preceding 2004, UNI was ranked in the top ten schools for passing all four parts of the examination on the first attempt.  Since 2004, when the examination was changed to consist of four separate parts that can be taken over a period of up to 18 months, UNI has maintained a pass rate of over 55%, compared to a national pass rate of around 11%. [18]
  • UNI’s College of Business Administration has a pass rate of 83%, double the global pass rate, for the Certified Financial Analyst examination, and a 75% pass rate for the Certified Global Business Professional examination. [19]
    athletic training

Other licensure or certifications for which UNI graduates may apply include the following:

  • Counselor
  • School Psychologist
  • School Superintendent (9 certificates granted in 2008-9)
  • National Athletic Training Certification
  • National Certified Health Education Specialist
  • Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology
  • Licensed Social Worker (81 certificates granted in 2008-9)
  • Certified Family Life Educator

Assessment of Student Learning at the University Level and in the Liberal Arts Core

During fall 2001, in response to the HLC site visitors’ recommendation, the Liberal Arts Core Committee formed a subcommittee to begin work on a comprehensive student outcomes assessment program for the Liberal Arts Core.  This subcommittee facilitated the development of a statement of purposes, goals, and proficiencies.  A pilot project using two standardized instruments (Academic Profile and the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency-Critical Thinking) was initiated in March 2002.  The subcommittee concluded that the Academic Profile was better suited to University needs; it was adopted as a measure of student learning for the LAC.  Student outcomes assessments of first-year and senior students were then completed.  In 2004, the student outcomes assessment plan was refined, and data from the College Student Experiences Questionnaire (CSEQ), Alumni & Public Views of UNI Survey, and UNI Graduating Senior Survey were analyzed, reviewed, and integrated into the Plan for Student Outcomes Assessment of the Liberal Arts Core.


Data from the Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress (MAPP), formerly known as Academic Profile, is currently administered through the Office of Academic Assessment with the cooperation of faculty and instructors teaching Oral Communication, a required course in the Liberal Arts Core, and through selected sections of the Capstone courses, also required by the Liberal Arts Core.  In 2008, the Faculty Senate approved a Capstone Management Report, which included language requiring faculty teaching Capstone courses to provide one class session for administration of MAPP (or other assessment testing as required). [20]


CSEQ data were collected yearly through the Office of Academic Advising from 1999 through 2003, with the exception of 2002.  In 2006, UNI moved from administering CSEQ to administering the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE); the survey has been administered annually through the Office of Academic Assessment since then.   In addition to the basic NSSE survey, UNI has participated in consortia to add additional information on student experiences related to community engagement (2006, 2007, and 2008) and writing (2009). 


Data from NSSE and MAPP are available to faculty and staff through a password-protected page from the Office of Academic Assessment.  Separate web pages present data from each of the instruments and an additional web page connects data from these instruments and from the Graduating Senior Survey with specific Liberal Arts Core learning outcomes.  Data from NSSE have also been connected with specific areas of interest such as diversity and community engagement.  The Office of Institutional Research provides additional analysis of NSSE data as requested by University departments.  Selected data from NSSE are also available on the UNI College Portrait Web site. [21]


In addition to the use of data from MAPP, NSSE, and surveys conducted by the Office of Institutional Research, data on student learning in the Liberal Arts Core are provided through reviews conducted for each of the LAC categories every six years. [22]  Category reviews are undertaken to accomplish four purposes: inform the Liberal Arts Core Committee of the program’s operation; promote collective adherence to the philosophy of the Liberal Arts Core; identify areas of concern and propose solutions; and review student outcomes assessment plans and data and make recommendations. [23]  A Liberal Arts Core Committee Review Summary, along with a copy of the final review, is presented to the LAC Committee, University Faculty Senate, and appropriate University administrators.  Category review reports and assessment strategies used in the category reviews are available from the Liberal Arts Core web page. [24]


During the 2008-2009 academic year, the Liberal Arts Core (LAC) Committee revised the LAC student learning outcomes and requested campus-wide feedback to assist them in this revision. During May 2009, the Interim Executive Vice-President and Provost charged a new task force with completing a major review and revision of the LAC including the student learning outcomes. [25]  In February 2010, a team made up of representatives from the newly-formed First-Year Council and the Liberal Arts Core Review Steering Committee participated in the Higher Learning Commission workshop “Making a Difference in Student Learning:  Assessment as a Core Strategy” with the purpose of identifying first- year learning outcomes and strategies for assessing them.  In May 2010, the Liberal Arts Core Coordinator and the Director of Academic Assessment presented a day-and-a-half long workshop on assessment and the Liberal Arts Core for faculty representing the Liberal Arts Core Committee, the Liberal Arts Core Review Steering Committee and the First-Year Council. 


Assessment of Program Quality

The University of Northern Iowa monitors and maintains curricular quality through program review and curriculum review, which all departments and programs undergo on a regular basis.  In addition, some academic programs at UNI undergo review as a part of accreditation processes from discipline-based professional organizations.  Programs at UNI were part of a special academic program assessment process during the 2008-2009 school year. 


Academic Program Review

All academic programs at UNI undergo Academic Program Review [26] every seven years, a process mandated by the Board of Regents.  Academic Program Review (APR) includes student outcomes assessment, a process by which the University’s stated mission, goals, objectives, and outcomes of its academic programs and co-curricular activities are analyzed to improve teaching and learning and enhance goal congruence.  The APR process is overseen by the Committee on Academic Program Review, composed of a faculty representative from each college, including the Graduate College, as well as the director of the Office of Academic Assessment.  It is chaired by a faculty member, and is charged with ensuring that APR reports are written in a way to meet the requirements of the Board of Regents and the Office of Academic Assessment.  Outcomes assessment promotes continuous improvement of the University and its programs.  It also compels the University to be more responsive to students, parents, accrediting bodies, potential employers, and various public agencies.  The reporting of ongoing Student Outcomes Assessment (SOA) procedures, findings, and results is a central element of the APR self-study.  SOA data contribute to the critical analysis of the program.  Summary reports of program reviews are sent to the Board of Regents in a report that includes a list of “conclusions, recommendations, and anticipated program improvements resulting from this review, especially those resulting from student outcomes assessments.” [27]


Curriculum Review

Curriculum at UNI is reviewed every two years, with faculty oversight of curriculum changes at several levels of the curriculum review process. [28]  The curriculum review materials and an online system for completing curriculum forms are available on a password-protected Web site. [29]


Curriculum development and review is increasingly tied to student learning outcomes and assessment data.  For example, the College of Humanities and Fine Arts requires that proposals for new courses to be added to the curriculum be supported by assessment data.


Changes to the curriculum are initiated and monitored by faculty from the beginning to the end of the curricular review process.  Curriculum revisions and proposals begin at the department level and then move through successive reviews by the appropriate College Senate, the University Curriculum Committee or the Graduate College Curriculum Committee, University Faculty Senate, the Office of the Executive Vice-President and Provost, the Office of the President, and then to the Board of Regents for final approval.  


Changes to courses in the Liberal Arts Core are also subject to the curriculum review process.  The process for making a change to courses in the Liberal Arts Core includes submission of a preliminary proposal to the Liberal Arts Core Committee, followed by creation of a final, more detailed proposal, which includes results of consultations with all undergraduate college faculty senates, the Council on Teacher Education, and the Library. [30]  The final proposal is submitted to the Liberal Arts Core Committee for its review and, if approved by that body, then enters the regular curriculum review process.   


Academic Program Assessment, 2008-2009

At the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year, the Interim Provost asked that a special Academic Program Assessment (APA) be done for each major, minor, and certificate at UNI. [31]  See Criterion 2c for more details on this program.


Assessment in Other Program Areas


Division of Student Affairs


Department of residence staffAssessment activity is routinely undertaken at the division and department levels within the Division of Student Affairs.  At the division level, the Vice-President for Student Affairs has worked with Student Affairs department heads to develop a comprehensive assessment plan for the period 2008 through 2013.  Assessment activity has been ongoing within the ; the most recent assessment plan adds two activities (key performance indicators and best practices research), continues a trend toward benchmarking and reference to national standards when conducting assessment of program or service quality, commits to expanding assessment to units that have been less engaged historically, and provides a more clearly articulated rationale for assessment.  The current assessment program for the Division of Student Affairs has five dimensions:  key performance indicators, best practices research, outcomes assessment, program/service quality assessment, and external review. [32]



Key performance indicators

Key performance indicators (KPI) have been developed within each department in the division as well as for the division as a whole.   The KPI plan indicates core functions to be measured, key performance indicators, assessment method, frequency, responsible administrator/unit, and years of data available. [33] 


In order to provide access and transparency to the division’s constituents (including parents, students, faculty, legislators, and citizens), many of the KPIs are available at a Web site developed by Institutional Research. [34]   Division-level core functions and corresponding performance indicators are shown in the table below.


Table 5.1  Division of Student Affairs—Core Functions, Performance Indicators and Assessment Method

Core function

Key performance indicators

Assessment method


Undergraduate enrollment

Registrar report

Undergraduate new student enrollment

Registrar report

Average entering ACT

Admissions report

Yield rate

Admissions report


Students of Color rating of campus climate

Campus Climate Survey

Women student rating of campus climate

Campus Climate Survey

Diversity of division work force

Office of Compliance and Equity Management Report

Rate of interaction of students from different backgrounds

National Survey of Student Engagement

Proportion rate of minority student enrollment

Enrollment report

# of minority students enrolled

Enrollment report

Campus environment

Student rating of supportiveness of campus environment

National Survey of Student Engagement: Supportive Campus Environment

Campus health


Student self-reports of health

National College Health Survey

Student success

Rate of six-year graduation

Graduation report

Rate of retention

Enrollment report

In-state employment rate

Graduating Senior report

Rate of student satisfaction

National Survey of Student Engagement

Campus safety

Campus crime rate

Clery Campus Crime Report

Student engagement

Degree of positive student engagement in campus life

National Survey of Student Engagement


Best practices research

A second recent addition to the assessment program is action-oriented, best-practices research.  As opposed to a review of the research literature, this is a review of the professional practice of organizations that are similar or are tackling similar issues in order to “test” current practice and allow possible application.  Topics researched in the recent past include the following:

  • Creating high student engagement in the University career center.
  • Addressing the needs of troubled students on campus.
  • Determining tuition rates for summer programs, online courses, international students, and non-residents.
  • Centralized advising models.
  • Instilling a culture of accountability.
  • International recruitment practices.
  • Organizational models for providing veterans’ services.
  • Campus health center staffing and operations.

Outcomes assessment

student organizationA limited number of major outcomes assessment activities are undertaken routinely by departments within the division.  Data from these assessments are used to more fully understand the impact of the University’s overall effort as well as the efforts of departments and to track key performance indicators.  Outcomes assessments undertaken routinely are:

  • Graduating Senior Survey Report (Career Services)
  • National College Health Assessment (Wellness & Recreation Services)
  • Student Leaders Learning Outcomes Assessment (Maucker Union)
  • Drug Free Schools and Communities Act Biennial Review (Wellness & Recreation Services)

In addition to these undertaken by the division, assessments conducted by other units are routinely reviewed by division staff and used to inform program planning and improvement:

  • National Survey of Student Engagement (Academic Assessment) [35]
  • UNI Student Satisfaction Survey (Institutional Research) [36]
  • Clery Campus Crime Statistics Report (Public Safety) [37]

Program/service quality assessment

Student Affairs departments routinely assemble and analyze data from a variety of sources on activities, participation, trends, and satisfaction, in an effort to improve their delivery of programs and services.  A total of 96 routine, formal activities have been documented across the departments.  The complete list is provided in the division’s assessment plan. [38]  Examples of use of assessment information include changes in the room assignment process that allow students to create a preferred roommate profile and then connect with potential roommates; revision to resident assistant training to encourage connections between new and returning resident assistant; and collaboration with Career Peers from the Career Services office to offer workshops  and one-on-one assistance with job search tools and strategies to students in ROTH Hall, where a number of upper-level students live.  In addition, since 2007 seven programs within Student Affairs have completed self-assessments utilizing externally-developed professional standards, and six have completed self-assessments with benchmarking comparisons:



  • dining centerRecreation (Council for the Advancement of Standards)
  • Health Education (Council for the Advancement of Standards)
  • Maucker Union (Council for the Advancement of Standards)
  • Student Activities (Council for the Advancement of Standards)
  • First-Year Experience (with Academic Affairs) (Foundations of Excellence®)
  • Residence Facilities (Association of Physical Plant Administrators)
  • Dining (National Association of College and University Foodservice Administrators)


  • Maucker Union (Educational Benchmarking, Inc.)
  • Student Activities (Educational Benchmarking, Inc.)
  • Housing/Residence Life (Educational Benchmarking, Inc.)
  • Dining (Educational Benchmarking, Inc.)
  • Student Health (American College Health Association’s Patient Satisfaction Assessment)

External program review

External program reviews in Student Affairs have been undertaken ad hoc but with some routine over the past five years.  These have been provided by a range of entities (contracted consultants, professional association consulting services, outside auditors, or institutional committees) for purposes of improving program or organizational structure, assurance of financial health, and/or legal compliance.  All have generated formal reports and feedback that have been used for improvement.  Eleven such reviews have been conducted since 2005:

  • residence hallAcademic Advising (program)
  • International Services (program)
  • University Health Services (structure)
  • Admissions (program)
  • Financial Aid (program)
  • Residence (financial)
  • Maucker Union (financial)
  • Student Health Clinic (financial)
  • Violence Intervention Services (in Wellness/Recreation Services) (compliance)
  • Residence Life (compliance)
  • Dean of Students (compliance)

Four programs of Student Affairs are externally accredited and/or licensed on a routine timeline:  Counseling Services (International Association of Counseling Services), Student Health Clinic (Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care), Health Clinic Laboratory (Commission on Office Laboratory Accreditation), and Health Clinic Pharmacy (Iowa Board of Pharmacy Examiners).


For units that are not otherwise subject to a routine external review, the Vice-President has adopted a policy that an external review will be accomplished for each at least once every seven years.  Units undertaking external review are selected in the spring for implementation the following academic year.  An external review for the student discipline system (Dean of Students) is planned for FY10.


Other Assessment Initiatives

Other examples of student assessment within the Division of Academic Affairs and the Division of Student Affairs that promote student learning and effective teaching include the following: 

  • Career Services evaluates the Overseas Educator Fair through observations and feedback from employers, participants, and staff.  Information gathered has resulted in the Fair being offered earlier in the spring semester and ongoing additions and revision to information provided on the Web site for the Fair. [39]
  • The Office of Admissions requests evaluations from students and parents participating in “Up Close” days for admitted students.
  • The Reading and Learning Center (a program of the Academic Learning Center) assesses gains in reading efficiency in four-week Speed Reading courses, and student learning and development in Effective Study Strategies, GRE preparation, and PPST preparation courses as well as Ask-a-Tutor, Supportive Seminar, and workshop offerings.
  • Academic Advising initiated an intake model that identifies student learning outcomes for the advising process and shares those outcomes with students through an advising syllabus. [40]  Evidence of success of the model has been gathered through pre/post surveys of student learning through the advising process which have been offered since the 2008-2009 school year.  The office has also developed an assessment plan for measuring student performance and office effectiveness. [41] students studying abroad in china
  • The Study Abroad Program initiated pre- and post-travel use of the Global Perspective Inventory [42] beginning in 2009 to measure results of students’ international experiences.  The program also gathers information on student experiences and learning in the program from a program evaluation form, once-per-month student e-mail reports, student essays upon their return, and exit interviews with a sample of returning students.  Examples of program changes resulting from these assessment activities include requiring faculty to offer a minimum of four pre-departure orientation sessions and creating “Studies in Preparation for Study Abroad”, a three semester-hour credit-bearing course.
  • Rod Library surveys and gathers feedback from patrons through a variety of means and has used the information to make changes to services provided by the Library, [43] e.g., designation of a quiet floor, creation of collaborative work stations throughout the Library, brief videotaped tutorials for using library search systems, and increased full-text availability of electronic journal resources. 

Summary of Core Component 3a

UNI is committed to providing a high-quality education for its students.  Since the last reaccreditation visit in 2001, the University has put in place a number of policies, procedures, and support systems to enhance its assessment of student learning.  UNI has a solid foundation for continued development and enhancement of assessment of student learning and program performance and will continue to work toward the development of a strong culture of assessment across campus.



  • The University has updated assessment policies and procedures and created an Office of Academic Assessment to provide support to departments as they develop and implement their assessment plans.  Active involvement in the effective assessment of student learning linked to student learning outcomes has increased over the past five years. 
  • Procedures for academic program review and curriculum review are well developed, updated as needed every year, and communicated clearly to program areas and departments. 
  • Connections between academic program review and assessment give assessment a central role in academic program development and review.
  • The Division of Student Affairs has created a comprehensive plan for assessing program areas within the division. 
  • Plans for assessment of learning in the Liberal Arts Core have been implemented, and data from the assessment instruments used have been made available to faculty and staff.


  • Development of student outcomes and assessment practices has been uneven across colleges and departments. 
  • Systems for archiving assessment plans and data and revising/updating assessment plans vary across departments, as do formats and procedures for reporting assessment results and the changes made to courses and curricula as a result of assessment activity.   
  • Awareness of and use of information gained on student learning from the administration of the Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress and the National Survey of Student Engagement needs to be increased. 
  • Assessment-related data tend to stay with the units that collected them, rather than being shared with appropriate stakeholders across campus, and are not always used to the extent that they could be in planning and decision making. 
  • Assessment of learning in the Liberal Arts Core has improved since the last reaccreditation visit, but still needs attention.  Systems for the administration of MAPP to seniors do not currently provide a large enough sample of scores to provide sufficient confidence in the information the test provides.

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Core Component 3b: The organization values and supports effective teaching.

A variety of services and practices support effective teaching at UNI.  Many are specific to the college or department, and others are initiated by those providing centralized services.  These services and practices evolve over time as instructional technologies become available, characteristics of students and their learning strategies change, and as faculty seek new or improved teaching strategies.


Professional Development

One example of UNI’s support for effective teaching is that it provides financial support for faculty members to actively participate in professional organizations relevant to their disciplines. Provision of funds to support travel to scholarly conferences is provided in accordance with the faculty collective bargaining agreement.  However, the level of support varies significantly across departments and colleges.  Merit and professional staff can apply for tuition assistance from the Staff Training Grant Program, as described in Criterion 2b, for courses taken through accredited postsecondary institutions. [44]


To allow the opportunity to pursue intensive, uninterrupted research, and to provide the opportunity for significant advancement in their fields of study, tenured faculty of any rank may apply for a Professional Development Assignment (PDA).  The PDA provides one full semester of paid leave or half pay for two semesters of leave.

Another example of support for effective teaching is a series of summer faculty institutes on the topic, Innovation in College Teaching, [45] that were held at UNI from 2004 through 2008, and funded by the University and grants provided by the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust.  The institutes were offered through the collaboration of teams from varying departments and staff from Information Technology Services-Educational Technology.  They provided new pedagogical approaches and new ways of integrating technology into the classroom, and offered a foundation for ongoing collaborative faculty learning communities. 


Table 5.2  Faculty Institutes: Innovation in College Teaching

Liberal Arts Institutes:


Innovative Instructional Strategies and Educational Technology
May 12 - 21, 2004

Integrating Disciplines in the Liberal Arts Core
May 17 - 28, 2004

May 19 - June 2, 2005


Creativity, Curiosity, and Critical Thinking in the Liberal Arts Core
May 9 - 20, 2005

May 15 - 26, 2006

July31 - August 11, 2006


Graduate Institutes:


Geospatial Technologies
June 5 -16, 2006


Immigrant And Refugee Populations: Promoting Well-being And Integration In The New Iowa
May 14 - 23, 2007

Visualizing Research: An Interdisciplinary Workshop on Image Creation and Exhibition
May 19 - 30, 2008


Faculty involved in teacher education have had professional development support for the past four years stemming from an Iowa Teacher Quality Enhancement (TQE) grant.   Faculty had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting of the Iowa Culture and Language Conference in February as well as a week-long Our Kids Conference in the summer at no cost.  Both conferences provided training in the improvement of pedagogical practices for teaching English Language Learners.   In addition, the TQE grant supported workshops on course assessment and curriculum mapping.  


From 1993 through 2002, the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching (CET) provided a variety of resources for faculty members including new faculty orientation; individual consultations; workshops and seminars; an annual conference for faculty, staff, administrators, and students; and a Web site and resource collection.  In the spring semester of 2002, the director of the Center left the University, and the position was not refilled due to budget cuts affecting the entire University.  In 2007 President Allen made plans to reopen the Center and to search for a new director.  The search was opened in fall 2008 but then closed before it could be filled as a result of the new round of budget cuts in spring 2009. [46] 


Despite the absence of a center, development opportunities have been provided to faculty.  In 2005-2006, the Associate Dean of the Graduate College initiated two discussion groups, one focusing on issues of academic rigor and one focusing on issues related to plagiarism.  The groups met several times per semester during the school year and also shared ideas between meetings through the use of an electronic mailing list.  Discussion resulted in the purchase of Turnitin, [47] an online checking service designed for use by faculty to prevent plagiarism, and in the creation of a task force to explore the possibility of instituting an honor code at UNI.  The chair of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Task Force organized a Teaching-Learning Consortium with an electronic mailing list and a series of workshops on teaching-related topics during the 2006-2007 academic year.  The American Democracy Project [48] has sponsored yearly summer workshops for faculty since 2006:

  • Promoting Engaged Citizenship—June 6-7, 2006
  • Promoting Community and Civic Engagement—June 12-14, 2007
  • Civic Awareness and Civic Engagement—May 14, 2008
  • “It’s Just Your Opinion”? Critical Thinking in the Classroom—May 19-20, 2009
  • Service Learning—May 13-14, 2010

In 2008-2009, the University budget provided for hiring a director to begin the re-establishment of a Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.  A search committee was named by the Interim Provost in the fall semester of 2008.  Just before the position announcement was to be published in spring 2009, the state announced new budget cuts for the Regent universities, and the line item for the Center was removed from the budget.


Evaluation of Teaching

Instructors’ teaching effectiveness is assessed by student assessments during the fall and/or spring semester each academic year, through reviews by Professional Assessment Committees (PAC) in each academic department, and by annual reviews written by the faculty member’s department head.  Assessment of faculty is governed by the Master Agreement with UNI-United Faculty. [49]


An evaluation file is maintained for all faculty in each academic department.   Materials that must be included related to teaching performance include student assessments, reports of assessments conducted by Professional Assessment Committees, and reports of evaluations by the department head, college dean, and Provost.  Faculty are invited to add material that provides evidence of their teaching performance. 


The student assessment instrument is periodically reviewed and revised by a committee appointed by the Provost.  Student assessments are administered by the department head or a designate.  Faculty may also use the instrument for informational assessments.  These informational assessments provide formative feedback and are not kept or used in the evaluation file.


Each academic department has a Professional Assessment Committee (PAC) consisting of tenured members of the departmental faculty.  Candidates for tenure and/or promotion are assessed by the PAC using written procedures and recommendations regarding teaching performance are forwarded to the department head.


The department head is responsible for annually evaluating the teaching of each faculty member for salary merit increases.  Other evaluations of a faculty member’s teaching may be conducted at the discretion of the department head.  Tenured faculty receive a formal review of their teaching every three years as well as annual reviews for merit consideration.  Probationary faculty are formally reviewed annually.


Recognition of Teaching Excellence

UNI has many faculty who are dedicated to high-quality teaching, and the university recognizes teaching excellence through awards at both university and college levels.  Some university-level teaching awards are listed below:

  • teaching award ceremonyThe Class of 1943 Faculty Award for Teaching – All tenured faculty who have been on the faculty at UNI for at least five years, including department heads, are eligible. [50]
  • Excellence in Liberal Arts Teaching Award – All instructors of LAC courses including adjunct instructors, tenure-track faculty, and tenured faculty are eligible for consideration.  Only individuals who have been employed at UNI for at least 3 years and teach regularly in the LAC are eligible. [51]
  • University Book and Supply Award for Teaching – Beginning in 1994, [52] awards of $1,000 to junior faculty (in their first five years at UNI) have been funded by University Book and Supply.  One award per year is provided for each of the undergraduate five colleges.   
  • Graduate College Outstanding Graduate Faculty Teaching Award – This award is open to full-time tenured or tenure-track members of the Graduate Faculty and recognizes outstanding teaching in the graduate program as measured by significant teaching activities inside and outside of the graduate program; evidence of graduate curriculum development activity; solid record of research/scholarship; and service on thesis and dissertation committees.  Recipients receive a plaque and a $1,000 account to support their graduate teaching. [53]

Library Support for Effective Teaching 

student working in the library

Rod Library offers many services in support of teaching and research.  Bibliographers, or subject specialists, from the Collection Management and Special Services Department work with the teaching faculty to utilize the recurring materials budget and other funds to develop appropriately focused print, audio-visual, and electronic collections.   A library liaison, selected by each academic department, serves to enhance communication between the Library and the department.  The liaison communicates departmental needs and interests to the Library and also relays information regarding Library services to the department. [54]  The Library is building a digital collection of resources unique to UNI and the region, which provides enhanced patron access to these materials. [55]  The Library participates in joint licenses for databases and full-text journal collections with the other Regent libraries and their respective academic consortia, the Iowa Private Academic Library group, and the State of Iowa.  In May 2009 it expanded access to the holdings of the Iowa State University and University of Iowa library catalogs through UNISTAR (UNI System to Access Resources) and the Cedar Valley Library Consortium (CVLC) online catalog. [56]

The Library provides print and online course reserves, patron assistance in a variety of media including YouTube videos, and instruction to individuals and groups on the use of the Library.  Librarians provide presentations on research methods to undergraduate and graduate classes.  Reference Desk staff provide assistance in person, and via telephone, e-mail, text messaging, and Live Chat.  Research consultations are available for both faculty and students. [57]  Librarians work with faculty to customize course Web pages to assist in providing resources for students’ uses. [58]


Technology Support for Effective Teaching

With the spread of the use of information technologies, technology services have become vital in supporting effective teaching.  UNI provides faculty support and development, production services, and facilities and equipment to support both teaching and learning.


students in a computer labInformation Technology Services (ITS) supports the overall telecommunications infrastructure for the campus.  A one-Gigabit-per-second with 100-Megabits-per-second infrastructure serves the University.  Internet2 is available for faculty use; cable TV serves campus and residence halls; and high bandwidth exists in the surrounding communities. Wired and wireless connectivity are provided to campus buildings, including residence halls, [59] as are e-mail, calendar, financial applications, and other electronic services.  Approximately 76% of classrooms are equipped with fully functional multimedia systems for teaching use.  Fifteen multimedia classrooms that seat over 100 students are managed by the ITS-Educational Technology Department, and the remaining are managed by individual departments.  ITS regularly consults with technicians in the colleges regarding needs for multimedia-equipped classrooms, software and hardware licensing, maintenance, trouble shooting, and general IT support.  


The ITS-Educational Technology [60] Department supports many instructional needs.  Its mission statement is “to promote the use of educational technologies by providing services to strengthen teaching, learning, and other university endeavors.” [61]  Specialized institutes, seminars, workshops, and training opportunities are offered to faculty each year.  For example, during interim breaks, Faculty Focus workshops allow faculty to improve and enhance their teaching by learning or expanding upon their knowledge of specific instructional technology programs.  Summer workshops provide time for faculty to work on specific projects through the Institute for Courseware Enhancement.  General technology workshops, training sessions, and tutorials that focus on applications and their uses in teaching and learning are offered on a regular basis for faculty, staff, and students. [62]  For example, between the end of final exams in May 2010 and the start of the fall 2010 semester, ITS-Educational Technology held a workshop during every week in May and June, during four weeks in July and during one week in August. [63]  Three educational technology specialists are available to assist faculty individually with design and development needs. ITS-User Services also offers test scoring services for faculty who use multiple-choice or true-false exams.  ITS scores each exam and provides a report that includes a profile of responses and information on item difficulty, item discrimination, and test reliability. [64]


Other opportunities are made available through sponsored grants and special allocations for the integration of technology into teaching.  In recent years, the Roy J. Carver Trust has funded faculty institutes that integrate technology, faculty learning communities, and interdisciplinary topics. [65]  Three of these institutes focused on Liberal Arts Core teaching and three on graduate education. 


Production services offered by ITS-Educational Technology also support teaching efforts.  The Production House, [66] a unit within that department, provides multimedia design, production, Web site development, audio/video recording and editing, duplication, and streaming services. 


ITS manages the University online learning management system,, [67] a Web-based interface for the development of a customized learning environment.  The eLearning system includes pre-made course tools and supports creation of and access to online courses.  It also supports the creation of an electronic portfolio, in which various forms of media, including text, images, video, and audio, can be compiled in a digital environment for purposes of assessment, reflection, and career use.  Usage graphs [68] track information by students, faculty, sections, departments, and colleges. 


Video conferencing technologies are also supported by ITS-Educational Technology.  Classes such as the Transportation Planning and Policy course in the Department of Geography regularly connect with others across the country for course content and team teaching.  An American Civilization course connects with students in St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia, for collaborative learning experiences. Three fully equipped Studio IT rooms support these collaborative efforts.  These classrooms and several others on campus also provide Accordant Capture technologies that allow faculty to capture presentations, lectures, and student presentations and provide for individual responses (via clickers). 


student in the icn class

The Iowa Communications Network (ICN) managed and supported by the Office of Continuing and Distance Education, is regularly used for distance education courses within the state. [69]  The ICN is a statewide fiber optic telecommunications network used by K-12 schools, higher education, hospitals, state and federal government, and other federal institutions within Iowa. [70]  Through the ICN, students can enroll in designated UNI courses and attend class at one of more than 750 video classroom sites throughout the state.  The system provides for real-time interaction using broadcast-quality video and audio.  Most courses are supported with an eLearning component, and some include face-to-face meetings.  In 2008-2009, 130 courses were offered using the ICN delivery system, accounting for more than 2,000 enrollments.


Summary of Core Component 3b

While budget cuts originating at the state level have restricted delivery of some resources and services for faculty development over the past ten years, the University continues to value teaching excellence and strives to create an environment for effective classroom performance.



  • Procedures for evaluation of both tenured and probationary faculty are in place.
  • Library staff members have a strong commitment to serving the information and resource needs of faculty and students and have been creative and persistent in finding ways to continually improve library services and service delivery. 
  • A variety of technology resources and services are available to assist faculty in using technology in their classrooms and teaching.


  • Support for travel to conferences and other professional development purposes has decreased due to budget constraints.  
  • The Center for the Enhancement of Teaching has remained closed due to budget constraints.  
  • More comprehensive professional development programs are needed for faculty, staff, and administrators.

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Core Component 3c: The organization creates effective learning environments.

The University of Northern Iowa is committed to creating effective learning environments that are welcoming and supportive for students, faculty, and staff.  Ninety percent of seniors responding to the 2009 National Survey of Student Engagement rated the quality of their entire educational experience at UNI as good or excellent; when asked the extent to which UNI emphasized providing the support they needed to succeed academically, 75% of seniors responded very much or quite a bit.[71]   Response rates for both of these evaluations related to the teaching-learning environment at UNI are greater than the comparable evaluations from seniors at UNI peer institutions. 

In addition to providing well-prepared faculty and maintaining class sizes that allow for individualized attention to students, UNI also provides programs and services designed to provide support and opportunities to learners who come to campus from various backgrounds and with varying strengths, interests, and styles of learning.


Support for Diverse Learners

The University of Northern Iowa supports learners who are academically, demographically, socially, and economically diverse.  Support is provided in many programs across the divisions of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs.  The University’s participation in the Foundations of Excellence® project has led to examination of a variety of issues and development of action steps to support diverse learners. 


Evidence of UNI’s support for learners is found in student persistence and graduation data.  The 2000–2004 entering classes maintained a steady graduation rate that ranged from 64.4% to 69.1%.  UNI has been recognized by the independent nonprofit organization Education Trust as a high-performing institution, with an institutional six-year graduation rate of 68%, 19% higher than the median graduation rate of peer institutions. [72]


Table 5.3  Persistence and Retention Analysis 

Persistence into Second, Third and Fourth Years

Entering  Year


Continued 2nd year

Continued 3rd year

Graduated 3rd year

Continued 4th year

Graduated 4th year

Continued 5th year

Graduated 5th year

Continued 6th year

Graduated 6th year

Fall 2003

All minorities

White, non-Hispanic

All students














































Fall 2004

All minorities

White, non-Hispanic

All students












































Fall 2005

All minorities

White, non-Hispanic

All students



































Fall 2006

All minorities

White, non-Hispanic

All students



























Fall 2007

All minorities

White, non-Hispanic

All students


















Fall 2008

All minorities

White, non-Hispanic

All students















Academic Diversity

UNI offers five undergraduate degrees (B.A., B.A.-Teaching, B.F.A., B.M., B.S.), over 120 majors, 101 minors, and 36 certificates.  UNI also offers 12 graduate degrees (MAcc, M.A., M.A.E., M.B.A., M.M., M.P.P., M.S., M.S.W., P.S.M., Ed.S., Ed.D., D.I.T.), with over 60 majors. [73]


The 1988 General Education program (now known as the Liberal Arts Core) included a Capstone course titled Environment, Technology, and Society that was required of all UNI graduates.  During spring 2005, the University offered the first of several alternative courses in the revised Capstone category. Originally offered as an experimental design, the new Capstone model became a formal part of the Liberal Arts Core in spring 2007.


Enrollment in Capstone courses is limited to juniors and seniors, and some include an opportunity to study abroad.  All “are designed to prepare UNI students for the complex world of ideas that they will experience during their lives as educated citizens.  These courses are integrative and sufficiently flexible in content to allow and encourage widespread participation by UNI faculty.”  Courses “either 1) integrate content from two or more diverse disciplines, or 2) emphasize service-based learning and provide engagement with communities outside UNI.” [74] 


Students seeking more academically rigorous experience may join the UNI Honors program.  Established in fall 2001, the program is available to first-year, currently enrolled, and transfer students who meet established academic criteria. [75]  Its mission is to “attract, retain, and meet the needs of students of exceptional academic achievement,” and to provide them with a supportive intellectual, social and learning environment. [76]  The curriculum includes Liberal Arts Core courses, seminars, electives, and a Senior Honors Thesis/Project.  Students successfully completing the program may graduate with University Honors or University Honors with Distinction.


Students who need help developing or improving their skills can find support at the Academic Learning Center (ALC). [77]  The ALC Math Center develops students’ understanding of math.  Services include one-on-one tutoring, small-group instruction, and non-credit courses in Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST) preparation and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) preparation.  The ALC Reading and Learning Center develops knowledge, skills, and attitudes related to learning, reading efficiency, and comprehension.  Non-credit, four-week courses (Speed Reading, Effective Study Strategies, PPST-Reading, GRE-Verbal) are available to students every semester, and its Ask-A-Tutor program offers individual tutoring for Liberal Arts Core and some major courses. The ALC Writing Center provides support for students planning, writing, revising, and documenting papers.


Demographic Diversity

The University of Northern Iowa educates students who vary by gender, race/ethnicity, age, residence, and admission status.  Enrollment percentages by gender have held steady since 2003, with female enrollment varying from 7,123 to 7,877 and male enrollment varying from 5,136 to 5,564 (see Table 5.4).  Enrollment of nontraditional students (age 25 and above) appears to be decreasing (see Table 5.5).  The highest enrollment of nontraditional students from 1998 to 2008 was the 1998 enrollment of 1,140 students; 970 nontraditional students enrolled for the 2008 academic year.  Residence data show an increase in enrollment by both non-Iowa residents and international students over the last ten years, with non-Iowa residents increasing by 25.8% and international students increasing by 45.5% (see Table 5.6).  Enrollment of Hispanic/Latino students also increased during this period, from 105 students in 1999 to 237 students in 2008.  American Indian/Alaskan Native student enrollment remained relatively steady, from 26 to 36 students.  Enrollment of Asian/Pacific Islander students ranged from 128 in 2002 to 151 in 2007.  Enrollment of Black/African American students ranged from 308 in 1999 to 426 in 2003 [78] (see Table 5.7 for all ethnicity data).  According to Table 5.8, transfer students are typically 1/3 to 2/5 of the University’s new-student enrollment.


Table 5.4  Enrollment by College and Gender, UNI Office of the Registrar

Enrollment by College and Gender

Fall Semester

Total University



Humanities & Fine Arts

Natural Sciences

Social & Behavioral Sciences

No Specific College










1,083 (14.5%)

1,508 (28.1%)



2,247 (30.1%)

713 (13.3%)



1,360 (18.2%)

739 (13.8%)



612 (8.2%)

1,101 (20.5%)



1,262 (16.9%)

772 (14.4%)



893 (12.0%)

534 (9.9%)










1,038 (14.2%)

1,493 (28.6%)



2,167 (29.7%)

696 (13.3%)



1,358 (18.6%)

720 (13.8%)



623 (8.5%)

1,029 (19.7%)



1,253 (17.2%)

731 (14.0%)



855 (11.7%)

550 (10.5%)










978 (13.7%)

1,451 (28.3%)



2,048 (28.8%)

674 (13.1%)



1,410 (19.8%)

702 (13.7%)



632 (8.9%)

1,025 (20.0%)



1,201 (16.9%)

749 (14.6%)



854 (12.0%)

535 (10.4%)










997 (13.7%)

1,446 (27.2%)



2,082 (28.6%)

706 (13.3%)



1,397 (19.2%)

663 (12.5%)



714 (9.8%)

1,081 (20.3%)



1,155 (15.8%)

781 (14.7%)



944 (13.0%)

643 (12.1%)










1,020 (13.5%)

1,536 (28.6%)



2,057 (27.3%)

698 (13.0%)



1,431 (19.0%)

637 (11.8%)



712 (9.5%)

1,154 (21.4%)



1,178 (15.6%)

755 (14.0%)



1,130 (15.0%)

600 (11.2%)


Table 5.5   Undergraduate Enrollment by Age, UNI Office of the Registrar

Undergraduate Enrollment by Age

Fall Semester






Total Enrollment






Under 18


















1,729 15.7%





























































































































































65 and older












Table 5.6  Enrollment by Residence, UNI Office of the Registrar

Enrollment by Residence

Fall Semester








Iowa Resident

U.S., Non-Iowa Resident

International Student



























New Freshmen

Iowa Resident

U.S., Non-Iowa Resident

International Student


























Iowa Resident

U.S., Non-Iowa Resident

International Student


























Iowa Resident

U.S., Non-Iowa Resident

International Student


























Table 5.7   Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity, UNI Office of the Registrar


Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity, UNI Office of the Registrar

Fall Semester







1 Yr %


5 Yr %



American Indian/Alaskan   Native

Asian/Pacific Islander

Black/African American




No response

Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander

Two or more 













































































American Indian/Alaskan Native

Asian/Pacific Islander

Black/African American




No response

Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander

Two or more 











































































American Indian/Alaskan Native

Asian/Pacific Islander

Black/African American




No response

Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander

Two or more











































































Table 5.8   New Student Enrollment, 2005 - 2009

New Student Enrollment, 2005 - 2009







New Students


















Transfer %







The University provides support for demographically diverse students to ensure an effective learning environment in a variety of ways.  The Society for Extraordinary Non-Traditional Student Education (formerly the Non-Traditional Student Association) [79] is a principal source of support for non-traditional students at UNI.  This group’s mission is to provide information and technical assistance to non-traditional students, promote a sense of community, and establish on- and off-campus service projects.  A liaison for non-traditional students is available in the Office of Academic Advising.  Additionally, the University maintains a Web site [80] including information typically needed by non-traditional students.


international flags

The Office of International Programs provides support for the increasing number of international students prior to as well as during their enrollment at UNI. [81]  Students receive specialized services through an International Admissions office (part of Admissions) and an International Services office (part of International Programs).  The University also supports a Culture & Intensive English Program (CIEP), [82] established in 1982, which provides non-native speakers of English with intensive English-language instruction and a comprehensive orientation to the United States.  CIEP prepares students for enrollment in a college or university, assists in recruiting international students to UNI, and serves as a resource for members of the University community who are interested in international education or the teaching of English as a second language.  As an example, a student from Rwanda with no ability to speak, read, or write English learned the language through the program, then completed her degree in Management Information Systems in four years, and recently was the student speaker for graduation.


UNI’s Student Disability Services (SDS) [83] assists students with documented disabilities.  This program works with students, staff, and faculty to provide access and accommodations for students to achieve academic success.  In 2008-2009, SDS had a caseload of 270 students with documented disabilities who qualified for services; 90 additional students completed consultation appointments.  In a 2008-2009 satisfaction survey, 45 of 51 respondents said they were satisfied (4 or more on a scale of 1-6, 6 being the highest) with faculty attitudes toward making accommodations in the classroom.  Forty-nine of the 51 respondents were satisfied with the accommodations that were offered and/or received. [84]


Multicultural event outside of CME

Social Support for Diversity

The Center for Multicultural Education (CME) [85] promotes cross-cultural awareness and multicultural understanding.  Services include providing multicultural programming for students and the campus community.  For example, Dr. Cornel West spoke on campus March 25, 2010 about civic engagement and the democratic process.  In September 2008, the Vice-President for Student Affairs charged a committee to examine the role and mission of the CME.  In May 2009, a new mission statement [86] was adopted. 


The Department of Residence [87] uses an Inclusive Communities Team and a Safe Zone Team to provide support and develop awareness of diverse student groups. The Women’s and Gender Studies program [88] provides an undergraduate minor and a Master of Arts.  This program also supports student organizations and provides campus programming.  There are approximately 250 student organizations at UNI, [89] many of which promote ethnic, cultural, religious, and other forms of diversity.


Support for Socially and Economically Diverse Students

Several programs collaborate to provide services for underrepresented students.  Student Support Services (SSS) and Academic Achievement and Retention Services (AARS) are both located in the Academic Learning Center (ALC).  SSS is a federal TRIO program that serves 200 students eligible by low income, first-generation college status, and/or disability.  SSS provides holistic advising, tutoring, and study groups, and assistance with financial aid, academic, and career planning.  AARS, which does not require participants to meet eligibility guidelines, mirrors this program by providing the same services for approximately 150-200 students, including those from the Jump Start program, referrals from SSS of students who would benefit from program assistance but do not meet SSS guidelines, and referrals by faculty and staff of students identified as needing further academic support.  Additionally, the two programs collaborate to offer Success Workshops regarding academic, financial aid, and career planning topics.  Staff from these programs teach credit courses on Strategies for Academic Success and Career Decision Making.


UNI student's Jump Start programUNI Jump Start, [90] a joint program of the divisions of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, is designed to facilitate the successful transition of students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, and first-generation students to the University.  The cornerstone of Jump Start is a week-long orientation prior to the start of fall classes.  Approximately 60–80 first-year students and 20–40 transfer students participate in this program each year.  First-year students are registered in selected sections of Liberal Arts Core courses.  Both first-year and transfer students are enrolled in Strategies for Academic Success, a two-credit course, during the fall semester. All Jump Start students are advised through either Academic Achievement and Retention Services or Student Support Services, in addition to being strongly encouraged to develop relationships with their major and departmental advisors.


The Office of Student Financial Aid [91] supports many students with grants, loans, scholarships, and employment opportunities.  The Office also assists applicants in the financial aid process and provides information regarding managing money.  According to the Board of Regents 2009 Annual Student Financial Aid Report, 85% of UNI students (n=9,332) received financial aid during the 2007-2008 academic year.  70% received aid in the form of loans.  In 2007-2008 22% of UNI seniors graduated without debt.  The average debt load of those who graduated with debt was $24,176. [92]  According to the Financial Aid Office, 85% of undergraduate students and 77% of graduate students received financial aid during the 2008-2009 academic year.  Additionally, 25% of undergraduates received Pell Grants which are based on financial need. 


The Admissions Partnership Program (APP) [93] assists community college students from eight institutions to make a smooth transfer to UNI to complete a bachelor’s degree.  An advisor from the Office of Academic Advising works specifically with APP students to ensure that their community college coursework will meet UNI major requirements so that they can make timely progress to graduation once they reach campus.


Academic Advising:  Organizational Structures

High quality academic advising is a key element of an effective learning environment.  Over the past five years the University has evaluated and reorganized undergraduate advising to better meet the needs of students and advisors.  In order to respond to the University’s mission and responsibility to the state of Iowa, UNI aspires to increase enrollment and persistence to graduation through campus-wide coordinated programming that responds to national standards for quality academic advising.


UNI’s undergraduate advising is structured to provide both centralized and decentralized advising.  This provides for individualized delivery of advising to meet the unique demands of disciplines and special populations.  Approximately 410 faculty advisors provide the majority of undergraduate academic advising in decentralized academic units.  In high-volume majors, 11 full-time professional advisors provide advising in college advising centers and departmental offices. 


Centralized advising provides expertise to meet the needs of specific student populations:  students in transition (transfers, new freshmen, deciding students), students in academic difficulty, at-risk students, and student athletes.  Centralized advising is provided by four units reporting to different University divisions:  the Office of Academic Advising and the Academic Learning Center (Academic Affairs), Residence Life Coordinators (Student Affairs) in collaboration with the Office of Academic Advising, and Athletic Academic Advisors (Administration and Financial Services).  These units, although in different reporting lines, regularly collaborate on advising, serve on advising and University committees together, and participate in each other’s programming.  A total of 12 full-time professional advisors and seven Residence Life Coordinators provide centralized advising to support transitional needs of students at UNI.


Delivery of undergraduate academic advising is determined by each department or college to meet the needs of their area.  While the College of Business Administration and the College of Education have advising centers staffed by professional advisors, and some departments have a professional advisor, most departments assign students to faculty advisors who also maintain teaching responsibilities.  Some faculty advisors are granted reduced teaching loads in order to serve as advising coordinators in their discipline.  Faculty and professional advisors from each college annually participate in 22 campus-wide advising events as well as orientation advisor in-services and new advisor in-services.  The advising for these events is centrally coordinated by the Office of Academic Advising. [94]


The Office of Academic Advising serves as the academic advising center for deciding students who are exploring majors, students changing majors, and students reassessing their current academic situation.  The Office of Academic Advising bases its programs and activities on outcomes developed from the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) standards. [95]  Its advising approach is based on the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) Concept of Academic Advising. [96]  This office is centrally located in the Follon Student Services Center, with Admissions, the Office of the Registrar, Orientation, Financial Aid, Career Services, and the Office of Business Operations, in order to provide convenience and a collaborative environment to benefit students.


The Academic Learning Center

The mission of the Academic Learning Center (ALC) is to inspire, challenge, and empower students to achieve academic success. [97]  The office houses six components: Academic Achievement and Retention Services, [98] Examination Services, [99] the Math Center, [100] the Reading and Learning Center, [101] Student Support Services, [102] and the Writing Center. [103]  Of these six components, Academic Achievement and Retention Services and Student Support Services provide advising assistance to UNI students from diverse backgrounds.  These programs also offer credit-bearing courses (Strategies for Academic Success and Career Decision Making), tutoring for program participants and workshops on academic success topics, financial aid management, and career planning.


Department of Residence

The Department of Residence works closely with the Office of Academic Advising in two program areas.  First, in collaboration with the Office of Academic Advising, a Peer Advising In Residence program (PAIR) [104] presents instruction and advice on topics related to academic success.  This program is assessed with entry and exit surveys. [105]  Second, Residence Life Coordinators (RLC) serve as first-year advisors to ten to twenty undecided freshmen.  These RLCs participate in annual academic advising in-services led by the Office of Academic Advising.  One RLC serves as an advising liaison to the Office of Academic Advising; one advisor from Academic Advising serves as advising liaison to the Residence Life Coordinators.  In addition, one or two RLCs serve as summer orientation advising program support staff each summer. 


The Department of Residence [106] has a deliberate and research-based plan for education in the residence halls.  The primary focus is on social success, citizenship, and scholarship.  This is done through residence education programs, residence education plans designed by residence life coordinators, strategic work plans, timely reflection, and measurements of success.  Calendars are comprehensive and include social and academic support programming.  Ninety percent of first-year students live in on-campus communities, so they are the focus of the majority of programming.  Additionally, Springboard housing communities are for first-year students only, and programming is targeted to this group in transition.  Programming, community service outreach, and individual counseling are all used to engage students in their capacity to be successful at UNI and as citizens of the community and world.


Academic Advising:  Initiatives to Improve Academic Advising at UNI

Since the last Higher Learning Commission accreditation visit, a number of administrative decisions have taken place to strengthen communication and collaboration among academic advising units.  President Allen’s Task Force on Educational and Student Services in fall 2006 recommended additional study on academic advising at UNI in order to develop an institution-wide philosophy of advising to guide decision making and resource allocation.  With the leadership of the Interim Provost and involvement of representatives from campus academic advising the following actions resulted:

  • An Advising Implementation Team was formed to make recommendations on the reorganization of advising (April 2007).
  • National Academic Advisor Association (NACADA) consultants visited campus to provide an external review of the academic advising program (May 2007).
  • The function of Academic Advising was split from the Office of Academic Advising & Career Services to form the Office of Academic Advising and moved from the Student Affairs division to the division of Academic Affairs (summer 2007).
  • A University Advising Mission Vision Goals Taskforce was convened by the Interim Provost to develop formal campus mission and vision statements, University-wide goals and outcomes for academic advising at UNI (fall 2007).
  • The UNI Undergraduate Advising Council to the Provost was convened by the Interim Provost in December 2007, composed of representatives from each college, the Office of Academic Advising, the Academic Learning Center, Athletic Academic Advising, and Coordinator of New Student Programs and chaired by a Faculty Fellow in the Provost’s Office.
  • An experimental advising intake model for first-year students [107] from select departments was initiated for the 2008-2009 academic year (42% of the entering freshman class, fall 2008).

These collaborative efforts by the Interim Provost, faculty, and staff advisors have provided a foundation to enhance advising communication in a decentralized system of advising, as well as guidelines for the future growth of academic advising at UNI.  A shared advising mission, vision, goals, and outcomes guide the activities of the advising program.


In its first two years, the Undergraduate Advising Council formed recommendations and an initial plan to coordinate communication and advisor support.  The plan was based on the NACADA Consultants’ report, the goals and outcomes developed in the Advising Mission Vision and Goals Task Force, the Student Survey of Importance Students Placed on Advising Activities conducted by the Advising Implementation Team, and a survey of campus faculty and staff advisors to document advisor needs and attitudes toward advising.  The Advising Council recommended four action items for the 2009-2010 year: bring advisor loads in line with national recommendations, create additional professional development programs for University advisors, implement a network of campus advisors to meet on a regular basis, and develop a Web-based advisor handbook. 


Academic Advising:  Student Attitudes Toward Advising

Undergraduate student satisfaction with advising has remained positive, and UNI’s persistence and graduation rates have continued to rank very high.


Table 5.9   UNI Student Satisfaction Survey, Office of Institutional Research

UNI Student Satisfaction Survey 2003-08

Survey Item






Quality Academic Advising






High Quality Mentoring






Collaboration with Faculty






On a scale of 1-5, 1 is low and 5 is high. Note: No survey was taken in 2007. Statistics reflect mean without “no opinion”. 


An examination of NSSE data reveals a discrepancy in the perceptions of freshmen and seniors on advising-related questions.  A lower response rate for freshmen for the NSSE item relating to discussion of career plans with faculty and advisors may indicate that a positive transition to college, unlike planning for their career, is the immediate concern of freshmen.  While the response rate for seniors is higher than that for freshmen for this item, the response may suggest an opportunity for faculty development in the area of academic advising needs for upper-class students.


Data from the 2007 Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) entered into the table below show that UNI faculty perceptions related to advising are a fairly close reflection of student responses.


Table 5.10   NSSE Data Academic Advising First-Year/Seniors/Cohort Institutions

First Year/Senior Advising Comparisons

NSSE  Item













1 o. Talked about career plans with a faculty member or advisor (often or very often)



UNI Peers:







UNI Peers:







UNI Peers:




UNI Peers:




10 b.  The extent to which UNI provides the support needed to help succeed academically (very much or quite a bit)



UNI Peers:





73 %


UNI Peers:








UNI Peers:




UNI Peers:





12.  The quality of academic advising received at UNI (excellent or good)



UNI Peers:


69 %


UNI Peers:






Note:  FSSE was administered in 2007 only; data for the UNI Peer cohort were not available for 2009.


NSSE and Foundations of Excellence® surveys indicate that athletes and non-white students rate advising higher than white students do.  This may relate to several initiatives:  The University has hired advisors to provide additional support services to both athletes and non-white populations through the Athletic Department and the Academic Learning Center’s Student Support Services, Academic Achievement and Retention Services, and Jump Start, along with other support services.


Table 5.11  NSSE 2008 Data Academic Advising White/Non-white/Athletes Comparisons

Academic Advising White/Non-white/Athletes Comparisons





1 o. Talked about career plans with a faculty member or advisor.

32.7% often or very often talked about career plans

38.9% often or very often

39.5% often or very often talked about career plans.

10 b.  The extent UNI provides the support needed to help succeed academically

73.4 % report receiving very much or quite a bit of support

77.8% report receiving very much or quite a bit of support

79% report receiving very much or quite a bit of support

12.  Evaluate the quality of academic advising received at UNI

72.3 % report excellent or good

83.3% report excellent or good

86.8%  report excellent or good


Table 5.12  Foundations of Excellence® Academic Advising Student Survey Data

Foundations of Excellence® Academic Advising Student Survey Data

Survey Item



Discussed future enrollment plans



Explained requirements for specific academic majors



Helped select courses



Discussed what it takes to be academically successful




These statistics, reported in the Foundations of Excellence® self-study, support efforts to institute campus-wide programming with intentional services focused on first-year students involving classroom instruction, advising services, and student affairs services.


Learning Inside and Outside of the Classroom

The faculty, administration, and staff at the University of Northern Iowa are dedicated to sustaining programs that support student development throughout the students’ experience regardless of the location.  UNI satisfies this component with a variety of services and programs that promote student development inside and outside of class, including residence life, student activities, small business incubator services, and opportunities for international experience.


student studying in the dorm

One way in which the University creates effective learning environments outside of the classroom is through service learning.  To encourage faculty involvement in service learning, the executive vice president and provost recently provided the American Democracy Project Committee with funding to create a service learning fellowship program for faculty.  The Committee awarded five $2500 fellowships in May 2010 for faculty members to integrate service learning into their regular course offerings. [108]  For more on service learning, see criterion 5b.


Residence halls also play a significant role in learning as they help new students transition to life at UNI.  Ninety percent of first-year students live on campus in one of the nine residence halls. [109]  Residence halls create a sense of community while providing students a place to study, build leadership skills, and learn.  In addition, while other variables may be in play, raw data (see Figure 5.2) suggests that students who live on campus experience better academic performance: [110]


Figure 5.2  Fall 2008 GPAs Residence Halls/Off Campus

Fall 2008 GPA's

Source: Department of Residence


Evidence of the commitment to diverse learning environments is found in UNI’s Residence Education plan. [111]  Residence Education encourages students to be successful citizens and successful scholars by fostering "meaningful student engagement in campus and community life that develops leadership, educates about diversity, and contributes to learning."  Residence Education at UNI seeks to challenge students to learn and to support them in their efforts to do so, all within the unique environment of residential living on a college campus.  On-campus living provides a rich environment for personal growth: close proximity to resources; convenient services; knowledgeable and caring staff; and opportunity for interaction with a variety of other students.


The role of residence educators—professional and paraprofessional live-in staff members—is to influence the direction of student learning, just as family, teachers, friends, and others have over the years.   Additionally, Peer Advisors in Residence (PAIR) provide advising services to students living in residence halls.  A survey of over 800 students conducted in spring 2008 showed that 95.9% of respondents were aware of the program, 47.5% had utilized assistance from PAIRs, and 21% indicated that the program was extremely or very important to their academic success.  The most beneficial aspects of the program were ranked by students as follows: availability, advice from a student perspective, and programs offered in the hall. [112]


UNI provides myriad opportunities outside of residence life student activitiesto help students learn and develop.  Student activities provide occasions for socializing, teamwork, and leadership development.  The more than 250 recognized student organizations offer a wide variety of options, including pre-professional organizations, honor societies, ethnic-cultural groups, intramural sports, and service organizations. [113] National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) results for 2009 showed that 61% of UNI seniors reported spending a minimum of one hour per week in co-curricular activities, with 35% involved 1-5 hours per week, 10% involved 6-10 hours per week, and 16% involved over 10 hours per week. [114] 


UNI is committed not only to supporting learning outside of the classroom but also to sustaining strong ties within the region.  This commitment is reflected in the UNI Student Business Incubator Program. [115] Under the auspices of the UNI Regional Business Center (RBC), the program allows individual UNI students or teams of UNI students to explore business ideas and provides a variety of resources to support their development and success. 


UNI endeavors to assist students to develop an understanding of global issues and a global perspective. A number of programs offer students opportunities to pursue experiences outside of the United States.  The Study Abroad Center, which is part of the Office of International Programs, “encourages students to travel and study abroad to enrich their life experiences, which effectively prepare professional careers that transcend cultural and political boundaries; provides UNI faculty with resources and support to develop and deliver study abroad opportunities for UNI students; assists and empowers the community to create global opportunities for UNI students overseas in order to shape their views as global citizens.” [116]  The Center has connections in nearly 50 countries through a variety of programs.  In 2004-2005, 85 UNI students participated in a study abroad program, while in 2009-2010, 412 students participated.  In addition, these numbers are continuing to increase: 461 students have already signed up for summer and fall 2010 study abroad programs. [117]  The Study Abroad program has initiated use of the Global Perspective Inventory [118] to measure results of students’ international experiences.


In addition to the Study Abroad program, UNI offers other opportunities to earn credit in international settings. 

  • camp adventure youth servicesCamp Adventure Youth Services is a not-for-profit educational organization that offers UNI students, as well as students recruited from other colleges and universities across the U.S., [119] the opportunity to work as day camp and sports counselors at over 150 sites in 14 countries/territories in Asia, Europe, and South America. [120]  A total of 179 UNI students participated in Camp Adventure experiences in 2008-2009, according to enrollment records of the Division of Continuing Education and Special Programs. [121]
  • The Liberal Arts Core includes a variety of Capstone classes [122] that involve study abroad.  Students in those courses complete a Study Abroad program evaluation that is used to improve student learning and the overall study abroad experience. [123]  One example of such an evaluation is the “Sacred Space” Capstone course taught in Italy in summer 2009. [124]  The results of that evaluation led the professor to make two key changes to improve the course for summer 2010: lengthening the duration of the course by one-third and making major changes to the itinerary. [125]
  • Undergraduate teaching majors can choose to be placed in another country for student teaching. [126] 
  • Graduates interested in K-12 international teaching and administrative positions can participate in the UNI Overseas Recruiting Fair [127] held every February for over 30 years.  This Fair hosts over 120 schools from over 70 different countries.  UNI Overseas Placement Service, provided through the Office of Career Services, offers credential and referral services as well as publications to assist those thinking of teaching abroad. [128]

Aside from pursuing international study and travel, students can extend their geographic boundaries through participation in the National Student Exchange (NSE) [129] program.  NSE provides students with the opportunity to spend one or two semesters studying at one of more than 180 colleges and universities within the United States, its territories, and Canada, while paying UNI tuition and continuing progress toward their degree.  Nearly 70 students have participated in the program over the past three years. [130]


Experiential learning opportunities also enhance the student’s educational experiences.  The majority of faculty members completing FSSE in 2007 (82%) indicated that it is important or very important for students at UNI to participate in a practicum, internship, field experience, co-op experience, or clinical assignment.  National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) data for 2009 [131] showed that 56% of seniors responding to the NSSE survey had completed a practicum, internship, field experience, co-op experience, or clinical assignment and that 23% more planned to do so.  These experiences also include opportunities for students to apply the knowledge and skills they have developed in the classroom.  The Physics Department hosts an annual Mini-Sumo Robot Competition, in which UNI students, high school teachers, and others from around the world pit their mini-sumo robots against each other.  Students in the Department of Industrial Technology participate in the annual international solar boat competition, and placed third last year, besting science and technology universities such as Carnegie Mellon.  Sixty-four percent of seniors responding to the 2009 NSSE survey indicated that they had participated in community service or volunteer work and an additional 13% indicated that they planned to do so. 


Career Services administers cooperative education and internship programs [132] supporting positions both on and off campus.  Faculty members in each college participate in supervising credit experiences, and each college and department sets its own academic requirements. [133]  In addition, the Career Services Office has developed relationships with the Washington Center [134] and has worked with departments and the Liberal Arts Core Committee to allow students to gain both internship credit and Capstone credit through their internship experiences at the Center.  Another area for experiential learning is provided through the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley (VCCV).  The University has worked with VCCV since the late 1990s to provide students with sites for engaging in volunteer activities.  Since January 2008 UNI has provided office space for VCCV staff on campus to meet with students and work with faculty to identify volunteer opportunities. [135]  The director for the volunteer center also is a member of the American Democracy Project (ADP) Committee and worked with ADP to create Martin Luther King Day service projects for the Waterloo community in 2010.  Finally, campus employment offers many students opportunities to gain valuable experience to complement learning.  On-campus jobs frequently place students in responsible positions that help them develop skills in team work, customer or client service, and problem solving.  The contributions of student employees are recognized by the UNI Student Employee of the Year award [136] and activities typically held during National Student Employee Week each April.


Summary of Core Component 3c

The University recognizes excellence in teaching and learning as a priority for the institution.  Faculty, staff, and leadership of the University recognize that students come from varying backgrounds and with varying interests, abilities, and goals.  Programs, initiatives, and services offer evidence that the University is working to create effective learning environments for all students by meeting students’ individual needs and providing them with personalized opportunities for achievement and progress toward their individual goals.



  • UNI’s overall retention and graduation rates are very favorable in comparison with peer institutions.
  • The University recognizes the need to increase diversity on campus and has initiated action to meet that need.
  • The reorganization of academic advising brought new focus on advising issues and productive changes are being initiated. 
  • Collaboration between the Office of Academic Advising and the residence halls and the emphasis on programming for learning within the halls does much to create an environment for out-of-class learning, especially for first-year students. 
  • Students have a variety of opportunities for both credit and non-credit-based learning at local, national, and international sites. 


  • While overall retention and graduation rates are positive, these rates are significantly lower for students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. 

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Core Component 3d:  The organization’s learning resources support student learning and effective teaching.

Faculty are at the center of the University’s learning resources.  Of a total of 810 faculty members, 463 are tenured and 132 more are tenure-track. [137]  The faculty/student ratio for the University as a whole is 1 to 16, based on the total number of students and total number of faculty for the fall semester of 2008; 92% of class sections overall have fewer than 50 students, and 66% of class sections have fewer than 30 students. [138]  The support UNI provides to create a supportive and effective learning environment is also evident in its facilities, programs, and services that support student learning and effective teaching.


Academic Facilities

Information Technology Services (ITS) manages 14 computer labs located throughout campus, [139] several open 24 hours per day.  ITS gathers usage statistics [140] and surveys students annually to study their satisfaction with these labs and obtain suggestions for improvements. [141]  The five undergraduate colleges also manage computer labs and other types of facilities to meet the more specialized needs of their disciplines. [142]  For example, McCollum Science Hall contains recently renovated laboratories for undergraduate chemistry and environmental science research.  It also contains a wide variety of specialized equipment and instrumentation used in undergraduate research and teaching. [143]  Other examples of discipline-related facilities include the following:

  • Gallagher-Bluedorn performance halls [144]
  • School of Music/Russell Hall [145]
  • Textile & Apparel Product Development and Materials Analysis Laboratory [146]
  • Center for Energy & Environmental Education [147]
  • Instructional Resources & Technology Services-College of Education [148]

Rod Library

Rod Library is located at the center of the University of Northern Iowa campus.  It is a four-story building of 238,000 square feet; Unit I was constructed in 1964, and the building was expanded in 1975 and again in 1994-1995.  The Library provides seating for 2,230 patrons.  The facility includes computer-equipped classrooms, graduate and group studies, collaborative work stations, and lounges.  A Multipurpose Room, equipped with a computer and projector, can be reserved for group use or practice presentations. [149]  There are 129 general-purpose computers with Internet access. Wireless access to the UNI network is available for registered laptops. [150]  In addition, one of the ITS computer labs is located in the Library.  The Library is open daily for a total of 94.5 hours per week, with a somewhat reduced schedule during interims and vacation periods.  The Library staff includes 19 professionals with faculty rank and status, as well as library associates, merit system employees, and student assistants.


As of July 1, 2009, the Library's collections included 986,921 books and bound periodical volumes, 41,453 maps (sheets), 568,060 paper and microform U.S. documents, 820,919 additional items in microform, and extensive holdings of sound recordings, slides, archival materials and manuscripts.  The Library provides access to more than 170 remote electronic indexes, abstracts, and full-text databases supporting study, teaching, and research in diverse disciplines through license or subscription.  There are 3,948 CD-ROMs in the collection, including federal government document titles.  The Library maintains current subscriptions in print or electronic format to 3,262 journals and magazines and to 20 newspapers.  A substantial number of additional serial titles are available in electronic format.


Use statistics are gathered on databases, e-journal collections, and other resources.  These are used in the collection evaluation process.  The library materials budget has remained static since FY03, although special allocations have been made in some years.  Portions of a Student Computer Fee allocation help fund electronic journals, databases, and audio-visual resources.  The University community is surveyed each year to obtain input on how to spend this allocation. [151]  In 2010 the library received $20,000 in ARRA funds to use to purchase new books for its circulating collection. [152]


Rod Library provides individualized research assistance for students, faculty, and staff by phone, instant message, e-mail, and face-to-face interaction. [153]  Numerous tutorials, videos, handouts, and other instructional documents can be accessed from the Library Web site. [154]  Students, faculty, and staff can schedule research consultations with a librarian.  Rod Library also provides scheduled presentations for classes, meeting with 7,395 students in 330 classes in 2008-2009.


Rod Library faculty and staff also assist course instructors with integrating library resources into their eLearning (online) courses. [155]  The Library seeks to share resources and technology with other libraries and organizations and to employ state-of-the-art technology to deliver programs and services. [156]  It is an active member of the Cedar Valley Library Consortium (CVLC), a technology-sharing consortium of local college, community college, and public libraries with a shared online catalog.  Among other services, the Library offers course instruction over the Iowa Communications Network and provides reference assistance via Live Chat and text messaging. 


Rod Library conducted a standardized assessment survey, LibQual+, in 2007. [157]  This instrument is designed to measure the quality of library services by asking students, faculty, and staff to identify those services they think are the most and least important, and to indicate services with which they are most and least satisfied.  At UNI, faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students expressed dissatisfaction with the journal collection. The results of the survey are being used by the Library to make changes in areas such as computer configuration, hours, study areas, and methods of providing assistance.  Rod Library conducts other surveys periodically to evaluate services and solicit suggestions, such as a 2006 survey of students on the future of the Library and an annual survey regarding how to spend Student Computer Fee funds.  The UNI Student Satisfaction Survey, conducted during class registration, includes questions related to Library services and resources. [158]  For example, in 2008, 62.3% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that the library usually has the scholarly materials needed for their studies.

Rod Library provides distance learners with access to its print and electronic collections so they are able to complete assignments and earn degrees without having to travel to the UNI campus. [159]  Services include access to licensed Rod Library databases, research assistance, and extra assistance with document delivery. [160]  Usage statistics are gathered on an ongoing basis, and students are asked to complete a satisfaction survey; this information is used in improving services.


Instructional Technology

Information Technology Services (ITS) provides general support for the entire campus.  The individual colleges and the Library have technical support staff to support their specific technology needs.  The department manages the University’s online learning management and electronic portfolio systems (eLearning).  It fulfills instructors’ online course requests, administers user accounts, responds to user support needs, and keeps abreast of best practices in online learning.  It also offers technology training to users both on and off campus. 


To ensure that technology resources supporting teaching and learning are adequate, President Allen appointed a task force in April 2008 to study a variety of issues related to the information technology needs of students, faculty, and staff.  While not focusing on instructional technology per se, the task force studied related topics such as which services should be offered centrally and which should be localized.


Ninety-nine percent of the 288 classrooms on campus are wired for Internet access; 42% of the classrooms are wired and also have a fixed projection device (Multimedia Classroom Analysis Report to the Board of Regents, 2008). [161]  In FY10, $250,000 in ARRA funds were used to add more wireless classrooms to campus.  The goal of this funding is to provide wireless capabilities in 110 classrooms that will support 20 simultaneous users per classroom. [162]  ARRA funds were also allocated for classroom and multimedia technology in Sabin Hall, which is currently being renovated.


ITS-Educational Technology consults with departments on classroom technology upgrades and advises them as to the best way to meet instructional goals.  ITS-Educational Technology manages three studios for innovative teaching (StudioIT). [163]  These are the most advanced multimedia classrooms on campus and can be reserved by faculty for classroom instruction.


The ITS-Educational Technology Department [164] provides a wide range of additional services to promote and support the use of educational technologies.  These include support for audio/visual production, multimedia projects, help and training, Web authoring, media distribution (such as streaming video), and instructional design and development.


Several public Student Computing Centers (SCC), or computer labs, exist across campus.  The ITS-User Services group manages the SCCs.  Students, faculty, and staff may use the labs as needed.  Many are open during evening hours. [165]  Many colleges also have computer labs available to their students.  Such labs often contain specialized software students may need to complete assignments.  Usage and satisfaction surveys are distributed to faculty and students for student computer centers, [166] Studio IT labs, [167] and the Production House. [168]  This information is used in making program and service improvements. 


Three advisory groups provide feedback concerning instructional technology decisions.  In addition to the Educational Technology Advisory Council (ETAC), these include the Learning Management System Administrators Team [169] and the ePortfolio Advisory Council (EPAC).  These advisory groups assist staff in setting directions and priorities for academic technologies, researching best practices, and communicating academic technology initiative to the campus.  Decisions impacting services and facilities provided by ITS-User Services are generally guided by the Student Computing Advisory Committee [170] and the Student Computer Center surveys previously referenced.


eLearning Course Management (Blackboard CE8)

UNI eLearning utilizes Blackboard course management software. [171]  ITS-Educational Technology regularly offers Blackboard workshops for faculty and for students.  The staff also answer student questions about the service; statistics show the number of questions asked by students in person or via e-mail during the first three weeks of semesters has declined from 2005 to 2009. [172]  From fall 2005 to spring 2009, the total number of questions dropped by over 90%, with the largest decrease coming in week three when the greatest number of questions are recorded each semester.  These statistics do not include questions posed to the Computer Consulting Center or Continuing and Distance Education support channels.


UNI eLearning usage shows steady growth.  For example, the number of fall semester course sections using eLearning increased from 156 in 2002 to 899 in 2009. [173]  In terms of students, the number of fall semester student seats using eLearning increased from 6,035 in 2002 to 19,644 in 2009. [174]  UNI eLearning usage varies from college to college, with the College of Education being most involved.  UNI also supports ePortfolios, a tool that allows students to reflect on their learning and track their growth over time through the inclusion of work examples or artifacts.  Students in 37 courses are making use of ePortfolios; 232 ePortfolios were active in September 2009. [175]


Student eLearning users are surveyed periodically.  Results provide eLearning support staff and instructors with information useful for assisting students, delivering technical support, improving the learning experience, and making program adjustments.  Results of surveys [176] and statistics are available on the eLearning [177] Web site.  A 2010 student satisfaction survey, for example, reported findings on factors such as learning in a WebCT class, communication with the instructor and other students, and involvement in and focus on the educational content of the course.  The vast majority of students (91.2%) strongly agreed or agreed somewhat with the statement that “accessing eLearning was convenient and easy to accomplish.”  Most students (76.7%) also felt eLearning made course materials easy to access.  However, when asked if they felt they were more involved in the eLearning course than past face-to-face courses, only 18.3% agreed strongly or somewhat, 33.4% neither agreed nor disagreed, and 48.3% disagreed. [178]


Continuing Education and Special Programs

The Division of Continuing Education and Special Programs [179] provides a variety of services that enable the University to meet its legislative charge to provide public services to assist in the cultural, economic, and social development of Iowa residents.  The Division works cooperatively with UNI staff to provide off-campus credit courses, workshops, and distance education courses, including Guided Independent Study and both undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered using eLearning and the Iowa Communications Network (ICN).  UNI also has two online graduate programs, Elementary Education and Professional Development for Teachers, pending approval from the HLC.  Regardless of the delivery method, offerings are expected to meet the standards set forth by the appropriate academic department and college.  The Office of Continuing and Distance Education facilitates course evaluations for all distance education courses.  Results are used to improve instruction and services to students.


The staff assists faculty with course and program planning, promotion, delivery, and administration.  In addition, the division provides instructional support to faculty and serves as the central point of contact for support services for distance education students.  Continuing and Distance Education also manages UNI’s video classroom activities on the ICN, an interactive system with more than 750 video classroom sites across the state.  Continuing and Distance Education typically offers more than 600 individual course sections annually.  The division’s enrollments have grown over the last ten years.  Total enrollment in all Continuing and Distance Education courses, both on-and off-campus, increased from 9,049 in 1998-1999 to 11,127 in 2008-2009. [180]


The Division oversees the General Studies and Individual Studies majors, Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree, and the National Student Exchange program.  According to a 2006 satisfaction survey of Bachelor of Liberal Studies graduates [181] students are satisfied with the quality of the academic programs, with 92% of respondents choosing a 3 or higher on a scale of 1-5 (average of 4.24).  When asked how well UNI prepared them for their current job, 73% indicated “adequately” or “more than adequately.”  The average score for the quality of instruction was 4.12 on a scale of 1-5.  Access to outside resources such as the library, academic advising and academic support all ranked 3.10 or above out of 5.


Continuing Education and Special Programs also oversees the UNI Museums, a campus entity that contributes to the education, research, and public service missions of the University through educational programming, exhibition, collection, and preservation.  The UNI Museums is comprised of the University Museum (a museum of nature and culture) and the Marshall Center School (a restored historic one-room schoolhouse).  The UNI Museums also serves in an advisory role to academic departments for teaching collections across campus. 


Technology Training for Faculty and Students

The Information Technology Services-Educational Technology Department offers a wide range of technology training opportunities for faculty and students [182] in formats such as workshops, Web-based tutorials, and institutes.  In 2008-2009, Educational Technology offered 250 workshops, attended by 1,600 people, on topics such as the Microsoft Office suite, Internet/Web, and eLearning (Blackboard).  Surveys are distributed at the end of each workshop to provide instructors with immediate feedback regarding teaching style and enhancements.  This feedback is used to improve future offerings.


Educational Technology also offers specialized tutorials, intersession workshops, and institutes for faculty.  For example, the Institute for Courseware Enhancement provides week-long sessions for faculty on presentation software, Internet applications, courseware systems, audio/visual production, and CD/DVD/ROM authoring. [183]  The Carver Charitable Trust sponsored summer institutes for selected faculty in 2004–2008 to promote the incorporation of technologically sophisticated learning strategies into liberal arts and graduate courses. [184]  In May 2010, ARRA funds were used to support two week-long faculty workshops on the development of courses with eLearning components. [185]  The Provost’s Office also sponsored a two-week Online Course Development Initiative, which gave faculty a sense of what it is like to participate in an online course as a student.  Eleven faculty members participated. [186]  Educational Technology provides various types of assistance to students and faculty in creating course materials and integrating technology into the classroom.  Some individual faculty members in various academic departments train students in the use of discipline-related software and databases.  Rod Library offers classes and research consultations to students and faculty on search methods and tools in particular disciplines.  The 2008 UNI Student Satisfaction Survey [187] found that 60% agreed or strongly agreed that computer training at UNI met their educational needs.


Staff for Technology-Intensive Areas

UNI uses a distributed model in which Information Technology Services (ITS) provides general support for the entire campus.  Each college and the Library employ several technical support staff members who focus on the specialized needs of their units. [188]  These individuals meet every month in a Tech Forum with ITS staff to discuss key issues and upcoming technology changes.  They also communicate via an electronic mailing list for purposes of posting questions, resolving problems, and sharing information.  


Rapid Trouble-Shooting Assistance

Information Technology Services (ITS) provides help and support through various channels. [189]  The Computer Consulting Center (CCC), for example, serves students, faculty, and staff as a centralized point of assistance for all supported software and services. [190]  CCC staff also manage computer account applications and assist in handling problems related to network connectivity, e-mail, and passwords.  The CCC can be reached by phone, online chat, walk-in, or e-mail.  Statistical reports show 32,310 contacts in 2008-2009; 88% of these questions were answered in fewer than 15 minutes. [191]  The CCC conducts follow-up surveys by e-mail to study user satisfaction.


Technical support staff members in each college and the Library provide assistance to meet their units’ specific needs.  Help for faculty in media classrooms is provided by a technical support person from that college or department. [192]  Help for students, faculty, and staff in accessing and using licensed journals and databases is provided by the Library. [193]  The Department of Residence and ITS jointly offer a service called ResNet. [194]  ResNet assists on-campus students with Internet access, anti-virus software, and general computing issues.


Partnerships and Innovations for Student Learning and Teaching Effectiveness

Partnerships with the local community and state are crucial to student success.  UNI was one of the first institutions to receive the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification in 2006 for Curricular Engagement and Outreach and Partnerships. [195]  UNI was named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for 2008. [196]  Some examples of the many such partnerships include the following: 

  • community outreach programThe College of Education is well known for its outreach to the local community through various student field experiences.  As many as 1,615 UNI students teach lessons to hundreds of preschool-12th grade students. [197]  
  • The UNI Community Music School [198] is an outreach effort of the School of Music.  Its programs include the UNI Children's Choir, a performing group for children in 3rd through 8th grade, and the UNI New Horizons Band, a concert band for adults 55+ years of age.
  • The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, established by the Internal Revenue Service, is an opportunity for UNI Accounting students to provide free income tax preparation assistance to low- and moderate-income taxpayers.  UNI has operated a VITA site for approximately 20 years. UNI accounting students who participate have completed a comprehensive income tax course.  They receive additional training on issues common to VITA clients. [199]

For additional examples of partnerships and the extension of and support for learning beyond the boundaries of the campus, see the chapter on Criterion 5.


Assessment of Learning Resources

UNI assesses the use and effectiveness of learning resources at the University and department levels. Examples of University-wide surveys, reports, and other documents are posted on an Institutional Research Web page. [200]  Some assessments are done on an ongoing basis, and others are one-time evaluations.  The Student Satisfaction Survey, for example, has been conducted five times since 2002.  It includes questions about library resources and services and about computer training and use.  Other examples of efforts to study use of and satisfaction with resources that support teaching and learning and to make needed improvements include:

  • Rod Library regularly gathers data on use of print and electronic journals, databases, and books and uses this information in assessing the collection and focusing collection building.  The Library also conducts annual surveys to solicit ideas on how to utilize Student Computer Fee allocations.  It regularly collects data from distance learners to study their satisfaction with specialized library services.
  • Rod Library conducts one-time surveys periodically.  In 2007 it administered a LibQUAL+ survey developed by the Association of Research Libraries to faculty, staff, and students in order to assess perceptions of local services and plan for improvements. [201]  In 2006, it conducted a future of the library survey.
  • Information Technology Services (ITS) regularly gathers use data and surveys students to determine their satisfaction with student computer centers.  ITS also gathers data and conducts follow-up surveys to study user satisfaction with the Computer Consulting Center. [202]
  • ITS-Educational Technology gathers data on use of resources such as eLearning and ePortfolios. [203]
  • ITS-Educational Technology distributes student surveys at the end of each workshop to provide instructors with immediate feedback to improve future offerings.

Summary of Core Component 3d

The University of Northern Iowa provides the resources necessary to support effective teaching and learning by faculty, staff, and students.  Budget allocations for facilities, technology, and program development and delivery are guided by short- and long-term planning.  Departments and program areas collect and use data on the use and effectiveness of their programs and services.



  • aerial photo of campus

    UNI has facilities that meet the overall needs of students, faculty, and staff and the surrounding community. 

  • Both capital plans and maintenance planning drive decision making with respect to facilities.
  • Library faculty and staff consistently assess user needs and develop innovative ways to deliver services that meet those needs. 
  • University classrooms and buildings are equipped with computer-based technology.  Staff from Information Technology Services offer support and training for use of technology inside and outside of the classroom and gather information to assess the effectiveness and use of their services. 


  • The Rod Library recurring materials budget has not increased since FY03.  Although this challenge was mitigated by ARRA funds in 2010, it has been difficult to provide the resources needed by students and faculty for study, teaching, and research.  End-of-year allocations from departments, the provost, and the president have also helped, but the availability of these funds is inconsistent.
  • The prospect of continued decreases in state funding will affect UNI’s ability to adhere to desired schedules for maintaining buildings and facilities, updating technological resources, and providing adequate Instructional Technology staffing for the colleges.

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The University of Northern Iowa strives to create a personalized, high-quality teaching and learning environment and to support a statewide and national reputation for excellence among institutions in higher education.  The institution continues to evolve to meet the needs of its students, faculty, and staff, and the state as a whole. 



  • There is widespread commitment to teaching and learning. 
  • The institutional emphasis is to be student oriented. 
  • The importance of assessment in and out of the classroom is widely recognized. 
  • The University has developed strategies for strengthening academic advising. 
  • The University is actively addressing diversity planning. 
  • A long-range plan exists for buildings and facilities. 
  • The University’s technology infrastructure is sound. 
  • Multiple opportunities exist for student learning inside and outside of the classroom, on campus, and in local, national, and international settings.   

Areas for Improvement

  • More assessment plans need to be developed and implemented in non-academic units. 
  • Data could be shared more broadly and used more in decision making, particularly with respect to student learning both inside and outside of the classroom. 
  • Campus-wide understanding of and support for the Liberal Arts Core and its assessment need to  be enhanced. 
  • University college and department plans and programs in support of faculty development need to be strengthened. 


  • Continue to work on dissemination of data gained from the administration of the Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress and the National Survey of Student Engagement and monitor use of the data for decision making related to student learning and experiences inside and outside of the classroom and for ongoing assessment and improvement of student learning in the Liberal Arts Core.
  • Develop systems and procedures for communication and coordinated use of information gained from assessment activities.
  • Complete review of the Liberal Arts Core and develop new assessment strategies to measure achievement in the intended areas of learning for the Core.
           -Develop a plan that enables faculty to enhance curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular teaching
             and learning to develop and maintain networks and resources within their discipline as well as with
             colleagues across campus.
           - Reinstitute the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching when funds permit.
           - Develop comprehensive professional development programs for faculty, staff, and administrators.

[3] and
[10], p. 5
[11], p. 24-25
[12], p. 9-10
[16]Annual Assessment Activities Report Template at
[24]  (CAT ID required)
[27], p. 14. 
[30], pp. 30-31


[121] Camp Adventure (personal communication)