Chapter 4: SMSU as a Learning-Focused Organization
Strengths, Challenges, and Recommendations
- A revised general education program was implemented in 1997. The
educational goals of this new program are comprehensive and consistent with the
University’s mission. The program also includes a continuous review of each
general education course using a three-year sequence. The accompanying
administrative and committee structures that were created have facilitated the
- The Faculty/Advisor Resource Center on the Web provides easy
access to student records and advisement data for authorized users. This electronic
resource facilitates registration and advising actions involving faculty,
students, and administrators.
- Current learning-related computer systems and projection units
are available in many classrooms, and from the Educational Technology Center. Faculty have access to software such as Blackboard and course Web pages for
teaching. The Information Technology Council provides continuous review of
these teaching technologies to ensure that they are updated and included in
university planning and mission development and are supported by the Student
Computer Usage Fee.
- Numerous faculty development opportunities assist faculty in
enhancing their knowledge and skills to meet changing educational trends. These
- The Showcase on Teaching
- Master Advisor Workshops and
related advising “refresher” courses
- The Teaching Fellowship
- Workshops and programs sponsored
by the ADC and the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and
- Funding for Results grants
- International travel grants
- Sabbatical leaves
- Informational Technology
- As part of the assessment process, many academic units undergo
regular external review. As a result, most eligible academic programs are accredited
or certified by their respective national or state agencies.
- A decentralized system of assessment is coordinated through a
network of activities embedded throughout all levels of the university.
Processes and results are open for review by internal and external groups and
are facilitated by the Assessment Council. The Council serves as a communication
vehicle for colleges and departments and acts in an advisory capacity to the
Director of the Center for Assessment and Instructional Support. Multiple
assessment results are available for faculty and departments to use in planning
and initiating program improvements.
- Faculty drive curricular development, often as a result of
assessment processes. Although the Board of Governors must approve new programs,
curricular matters originate with the faculty. Faculty-comprised College Councils, the Graduate Council, and CGEIP act on course and program proposals before
forwarding them to the Faculty Senate for approval.
- Quality faculty contribute to high quality research and teaching,
thus contributing to the development of educated persons.
- Missouri State provides various services to help students of all
backgrounds succeed. These services include
- Advisement centers for
undecided majors, as well as for Business and Professional Education
- The Honors College
- Career Services
- Disability Services
- Multi-cultural Student
- Citizenship and Service-Learning
- “Diversity in the Classroom:
Inclusive Teaching in a Multicultural Environment,” a faculty seminar
offered by the ADC.
- Missouri State promotes life-long learning for faculty, students,
and the community through such resources as
- College of Continuing Education and the Extended University
research that incorporates or involves students
- Outreach programs such as the Management
Development Institute, Small Business Development Center, and the Worldwide
- Distance learning via Ozarks
Public Television and KSMU Public Radio.
- Graduate programs accommodate student needs:
- Missouri State is the largest
provider of graduate education among all the Missouri public institutions
that are not a part of the University of Missouri system.
- Since 1995 the number of
graduate programs and graduate students has doubled. This growth was
planned and responsive to market demand (e.g. teacher education and
- Graduate degrees include
academic master’s degrees, professional master’s degrees, specialist in
education, and applied master’s degrees. In addition, a doctorate in
Audiology was introduced in 2002.
- Special formats are used in a
number of programs—for example, the online MS in Administrative Studies
and the online/on-campus blended MS in Computer Information Systems.
- The number of accelerated
master’s programs and specialized graduate certificate programs has
expanded over the past decade.
- Globalization of graduate
programs is evident; for example, a dual-degree Plant Science program has
been established with collaboration of Missouri State, China Agricultural University, and Liaoning Normal University.
- Graduate assistantships
provide practical experiences as well as financial support for graduate
students. Some graduate assistants function in teaching roles or research,
while others work in administrative or clinical settings.
- Research is strongly
encouraged as is evidenced by the annual Graduate Interdisciplinary Forum
in which graduate students from all colleges across campus present oral
and poster presentations.
- Faculty members do not always take advantage of the numerous opportunities
for professional development, such as programs made available by the ADC and internal grants.
- Once significant challenge associated with encouraging faculty to
achieve distinction emerges from the multiple tasks asked of faculty. As
Daring to Excel
states: “The current standard for teaching—a goal of a nine-hour assignment—is
not appropriate given the complex and varied teaching tasks that different
faculty face (e.g., clinical supervision, internship supervision, thesis
supervision, studio courses versus large sections). A more accommodating
standard is needed. That standard should recognize that, while it is a goal
that all faculty be productive scholars, not all faculty will be for a variety
- The mentoring of newly hired faculty needs improvement.
- While the University offers a series of faculty and staff
workshops on using tools and techniques for instructional technology, more
attention needs to be given to using technology for enhancing teaching and learning.
- Some centers that are ineligible for Student Computer Usage Fee
support do not have a budget for technology.
- For some colleges and departments, facilities need expansion or
- While technological advances have allowed the library to operate
more efficiently and have increased access to resources via systems such as
SWAN and MOBIUS, a static library materials budget for the past six years has
drastically reduced the number of book purchases and journal subscriptions.
Furthermore, staffing in the library is below the standards of the Association
of College and Research Libraries.
- The steadily decreasing level of state funding for higher
education has created immense challenges. Maintaining the status quo is
difficult; trying to improve and expand educational initiatives while avoiding
prohibitive tuition increases requires substantial increases in external
funding and improved efficiencies.
- Given budget constraints, increasing admission standards, and
some aspects of regional demographics, the University remains challenged in
meeting its goals to increase the enrollment of ethnic minorities.
- Budget limitations make it difficult to recruit and retain high
quality faculty. These limitations especially impact the University’s efforts
to increase faculty diversity.
- Alumni data gathered by departments, colleges and Career Services
is not always shared and compiled in a summary report. This makes it difficult
for the University to assess the degree of success achieved by graduates, especially
in terms of certification, licensure, and professional exams.
- Some instructors and academic units inadequately apply the
results of their assessment strategies when making course and programmatic
- The curricular approval process is too cumbersome and slow. As a
result, it is difficult to respond to changing conditions and the need to make
course and program improvements in a timely manner.
- Graduate College challenges include
- Outside competition is increasing and includes new technology and
distance education from institutions in and outside of Missouri, plus satellite
campuses from other institutions.
- Rapid growth has occurred in graduate education. As a result,
the Graduate College, faculty, and facility resources have been stretched.
- The unique workloads associated with graduate education have not
been recognized adequately (e.g., thesis research mentoring is not credited as
part of the teaching load).
- Other than graduate assistantships, little financial support
(e.g., scholarships and fellowships) other than student loans is available.
- Steps need to be taken to incorporate the concept of
globalization into the University’s public affairs mission.
- Achieve more widespread and effective use of professional development
opportunities such as those of the ADC, perhaps by providing a system for
recognizing and rewarding participation.
- In accordance with the recommendations of Daring to Excel,
“Given the integrated, complementary nature of teaching, scholarship, and service,
a new standard for productivity should be developed in the Faculty Handbook. A
new reward system is called for, and should be addressed over the next year.”
- The faculty mentoring system should be strengthened. In addition
to departmental mentors, the University should offer newer faculty a coordinated
program of dialogues, workshops, and other similar activities designed to help
the faculty become acclimated to the University and its culture.
- In working with other offices and academic units, the Academic Development Center should create expanded opportunities for faculty and staff to
research, develop, and apply technology that provides evidence of enhanced student
- Alternative funding sources (i.e., increased operating funds)
need to be identified for centers not benefiting from Student Computer Usage
- Improve the learning environment by upgrading facilities. As
noted in Daring to Excel, the University should continue to seek funding
to complete the items designated for renovation and/or construction in the
University’s Master Plan with continued annual assessment.
- Enhance budget allocations for the Library in order to address
inadequate acquisitions and staffing.
- Increased external funding in the form of grants, fellowships,
contracts and fundraising is needed to offset the steadily decreasing level of
- Diversity in student recruitment and faculty hiring needs to be
given a higher priority, including allocation of additional funds to make the attempts
- As a part of the assessment process, the University should
develop and implement a comprehensive, coordinated plan to survey and track
graduates, at both the undergraduate and graduate level. This information
should be compiled and published in an annual report.
- Evaluate the curricular review and approval process with the goal
of streamlining and speeding up the process while maintaining quality assurance.
- Continue to improve graduate programs through the following:
- Remain competitive through the quality of programs, as well as
such means as increased flexibility of course delivery, scheduling, fee structure,
and cooperative programs.
- Increase resources for graduate students, graduate faculty,
graduate programs, and the Graduate College.
- Recognize the differences in workload associated with graduate programs
so that uncompensated overload is not the expectation for faculty mentoring
graduate student research or supervising clinical settings and teaching
- Increase resources for graduate fellowships and scholarships.
- Improve international programs with an emphasis on globalization.
- Enhance participation in international awareness for students, faculty,
administrators, and interested community members by participation in study
abroad programs (semester, summer), study tours (short term), experiential
programs, and sponsored global issue events on campus and in the community.
Copyright 2000 Board of Governors, Missouri State University
Maintained by Web Coordinator
September 08, 2005