The institution places primary responsibility for the content, quality, and effectiveness of its curriculum with its faculty. (Responsibility for curriculum)
X In compliance Partially compliant Non-compliant
The guiding principles of Francis Marion University’s shared governance, as well as the university’s system of institutional effectiveness, clearly assign the primary responsibility for curriculum to the faculty.
According to the Constitution of the Faculty published in the Faculty Handbook 2016, “The faculty shall be responsible for University policy related to admission standards; curriculum; degree and certificate requirements” .
Before any programs of study can be instituted, they must be analyzed for their appropriateness to the institution’s mission and earn approval through a series of reviews. All graduate and undergraduate degree programs at Francis Marion must be approved through a multi-step process, starting with the departments that offer them. Once endorsed by the department, the program is approved by committees within those departments or within the schools (for graduate programs). The program must then be approved by the Academic Affairs Committee or the Graduate Council, followed by the General Faculty, the Provost, the President, and ultimately the Board of Trustees. Individual courses follow a similar process of review and approval, beginning with the originating department, followed by the Academic Affairs Committee or the Graduate Council, the Faculty Senate, and, finally, the General Faculty.
Academic Affairs Committee
Details about the Academic Affairs Committee are described in the Faculty Handbook 2016 , and the committee has as its primary responsibilities the following:
- “advise the Faculty Senate on all undergraduate curriculum matters, including proposed courses, course changes, or new academic programs, being responsible in particular for checking all such proposed courses, changes, or new programs for accuracy, numbering courses, prerequisites, issues of redundancy or overlap with existing courses, and related matters taking in account the impact of curricular proposals on other disciplines and the university as a whole [3-scroll down to p. 2];
- review guidelines and make recommendations when appropriate for the general education program requirements for the various degree programs of the University” .
The composition of the committee is such that each School has elected representation, and at-large members can represent a variety of disciplines .
A parallel committee, Graduate Council, looks at curriculum from the departments and schools offering graduate courses. Their charge as appears in the Faculty Handbook 2016  is presented below:
- “receive information each semester from the Director of Graduate Studies about applicants for admission to graduate programs, the number of students accepted into various programs, and the number of students enrolled in each graduate program;
- notify the faculty of all graduate curricular proposals prior to Council action ;
- advise the Faculty Senate on all graduate curriculum matters, including proposed graduate courses, graduate course changes, or new graduate programs, being responsible in particular for checking all such proposed courses, changes, or new programs for accuracy, numbering courses, prerequisites, issues of redundancy or overlap with existing courses, and related matters taking in account the impact of curricular proposals on other disciplines and the university as a whole” [8-scroll down to p. 3].
The Constitution of the Faculty published in the Faculty Handbook 2016 states that the Faculty Senate “shall be concerned with the planning and guidance of the educational programs of the University and policies concerning the well-being and security of the faculty.” The Constitution of the Faculty further clarifies that the Faculty Senate works along “with the President, Provost, other officers of the University, deans, and department chairs” to fulfill its duties .
Programs passed by the Faculty Senate must then be approved by the General Faculty , which “shall meet at least three times during each academic year to conduct the business of the faculty” . The Faculty Governance Schedule for Spring 2017, published on the university website, reflects the typical cycles of review for curriculum proposals and shows the multiple levels of approval that must be met before a proposal is implemented .
Curriculum Assessment and Review
The quality and effectiveness of the curriculum is ensured by a system of annual assessments as explained on the web page for the Office of Institutional Research: “All academic degree programs and support services of the University complete an annual assessment to evaluate their ‘success in meeting program goals and missions.’ Each assessment report contains program goals, assessment methods, results and evaluation, planned and completed actions” . An example from the Department of Psychology is provided here .
The Office of Institutional Research website also maintains summary reports from all programs for the past decade . Complete reports dated past 2007 are available in the Office of Institutional Research.
To administer the annual program assessment, the six-member faculty Institutional Effectiveness Committee  works closely with the Director of Institutional Effectiveness. According to the Bylaws of the Faculty Senate published in the Faculty Handbook 2016, “The committee shall act in an advisory capacity to assist the Director of Institutional Research and the Office of the Provost in matters related to program assessment. In this capacity, the committee will review the annual Institutional Effectiveness Reports from departments, schools, and programs, and may collaborate with report authors to suggest revisions and provide support and professional development” . For example, Institutional Effectiveness Committee members conduct workshops on writing Institutional Effectiveness reports as indicated in meeting minutes .
While reviewing institutional reports for each program, the Institutional Effectiveness Committee uses a rating survey to indicate the level of appropriateness or strength for six different items. The criteria include assessment procedures, mission/goal statements, results and evaluation, planned actions, accomplished actions, and overall value of the report. The form also provides space for comments next to the numerical rating for each criteria . When the review is complete, the chair of the Institutional Effectiveness Committee sends a report via email to each department chair, and the Director of Institutional Research summarizes the common methods used in program assessment for the year.
In addition, the faculty has processes for assessing the university general education program, which consists of courses that are not otherwise evaluated as components of other programs. For instance, the Institutional Effectiveness Committee coordinates all general education assessment activities, including collecting Institutional Effectiveness reports from academic departments and preparing a summary report of assessments of General Education goals .
The university’s Academic Affairs Committee reads the summary report provided by the Institutional Effectiveness Committee and determine whether the report sufficiently evaluates the General Education Program and does in a readable, efficient fashion. If the Academic Affairs Committee has suggestions, then it refers these concerns to the Institutional Effectiveness .
Finally, the University utilizes a peer assessment of program design and management. This consists of assessments of the general education program by outside evaluators with the most recent external review of the general education program completed in 2012 .
- Faculty Handbook 2016, The Faculty, p. 88
- Faculty Handbook 2016, Academic Affairs, p. 101
- AAC Report, Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes, March 7, 2017
- AAC Review of General Education Program
- AAC Committee Members
- Faculty Handbook 2016, Graduate Council, p. 107
- Graduate Council Curricular Proposals
- Graduate Council Report, Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes, March 7, 2017
- Faculty Handbook 2016, Faculty Senate, p. 92
- General Faculty Meeting Minutes, April 19, 2016
- Faculty Handbook 2016, Meetings of the Faculty, p. 90
- Faculty Governance Schedule for Spring 2017
- FMU Website, Institutional Effectiveness
- IE Report from Department of Psychology
- FMU Website, Institutional Effectiveness Reports
- IE Committee Members
- Faculty Handbook 2016, Institutional Effectiveness, p. 107
- Institutional Effectiveness Committee Meeting Minutes March 2, 2016
- Institutional Effectiveness Rating Survey
- General Education Report
- AAC Review of General Education Report
- Peer Review of General Education Program