Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support: Core Component 3.A

3.A - Core Component 3.A

The institution’s degree programs are appropriate to higher education.

  1. Courses and programs are current and require levels of performance by students appropriate to the degree or certificate awarded.
  2. The institution articulates and differentiates learning goals for undergraduate, graduate, post-baccalaureate, post-graduate, and certificate programs.
  3. The institution’s program quality and learning goals are consistent across all modes of delivery and all locations (on the main campus, at additional locations, by distance delivery, as dual credit, through contractual or consortial arrangements, or any other modality).


3.A.1  ASU has a comprehensive set of review and approval processes that ensures the currency and soundness of courses, minors, certificates, concentrations, and degree programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels. These processes include internal curricular review, as well as formal external academic program reviews every seven years, as discussed in Criterion 4. Programs that receive specialized accreditation undergo regular curricular reviews during their respective accreditation assessments. The responsibility for all courses and academic programs resides within ASU academic units, and the review and approval processes are applied consistently across all campuses, degree programs, and delivery formats (on-campus, hybrid, and distance delivery/online programs).

All new academic degree programs, regardless of mode of delivery, go through ASU and ABOR review and approval processes to ensure their currency, quality, and relevance, per ABOR policy 2-223. Each fall semester, the Provost initiates the academic planning process. Each academic dean, in consultation with the chairs/directors of the academic units, submits an Academic Plan describing all proposed new degrees, concentrations, minors, and certificates for the next year (see 2016-17 Academic Plan). Changes to existing degree titles, program disestablishments, creation of new organizations, organizational changes and disestablishments, and other related academic initiatives are also included in this plan. A university master Academic Plan is reviewed and finalized by the Provost, and then is submitted to ABOR’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee (ASAC) for final review and approval. Once the ASAC approves the Academic Plan, the Provost notifies the appropriate deans that their programs may begin preparing proposals for internal university review of new programs and academic actions as described below. Concentrations, minors, and certificates are not forwarded to the ASAC.

All curricular proposals (new degrees, concentrations, minors, certificates, and courses) are developed by the faculty at the academic department or school level. Units submitting new degree proposals must complete an undergraduate or graduate template with the new program’s purpose and justification, student learning outcomes and assessment strategies, a curricular map (e.g., core courses, electives), syllabus, list of qualified faculty, and resource requirements. Syllabi should include any prerequisite and co-requisite course requirements, the grading system and reading assignments. Similar templates exist that guide the development of concentrations, certificates, and minors.

The initial reviews of these proposals occur within the academic unit and the college. Upon approval by the college dean, proposals are forwarded to the University Provost’s Office for dissemination to appropriate university review bodies. These entities include the University Office of Evaluation and Educational Effectiveness, the University Graduate Council (minutes) for graduate level programs, the University Senate's Curriculum and Academic Programs Committee (CAPC minutes), and finally the University Senate (minutes). All academic program proposals are reviewed and recommended to the Provost for final approval. Once appropriate approval is granted, the Provost’s Office notifies units that their academic action(s) can be implemented. Ensuring the appropriateness of course and program content (i.e., undergraduate and graduate levels) is the responsibility of each review body, beginning at the department level and finalized by the Provost. 

Course proposals, as well as all actions related to course modifications or deletions, are submitted electronically using templates housed in Curriculum ChangeMaker.  After unit-level approval, the course proposal is submitted, via Curriculum Changemaker, to the Provost’s Office for subsequent review by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. This review scrutinizes the proposal for appropriate content, learning outcomes, assessment processes, and related materials. Graduate courses are reviewed by the Graduate College Dean. Courses not meeting undergraduate or graduate expectations (i.e., appropriateness of level of content, currency, quality, or grading metrics) are returned to the college/school and academic unit for clarification and revision before any further consideration is granted.

When a course proposal is ready for university senate-level review, the Provost’s Office forwards it to the Curricular and Academic Programs Committee (CAPC minutes) of the University Senate for posting and review. Once the Senate has reviewed and approved the course proposal, the Provost’s Office notifies the respective college/school regarding its readiness for implementation. Courses in all academic degree programs, regardless of mode of delivery, go through ASU and ABOR review and approval processes to ensure their currency, quality, and relevance. Ensuring the appropriateness of course and program content (i.e., undergraduate and graduate levels) is the responsibility of each review body, beginning at the department level and finalized by the Provost.

3.A.2  The learning goals for coursework at different academic levels are well-articulated and appropriately differentiated. Within degree programs, ASU has a course classification system that differentiates courses for bachelor’s degree students (with levels denoted 100, 200, 300, and 400) and graduate students (500 level and above). The first digit of the course number denotes academic level (e.g., the “1” in Physics 122 denotes freshman level). At the undergraduate level, 100 and 200 level courses typically are focused on general education and introductory courses, while those at the 300 and 400 levels are designed for advanced study by majors in the academic degree programs. At the graduate level, courses are restricted to 500 level and above. Undergraduate certificates include courses in the 100 through 400 level ranges, while graduate certificates primarily consist of courses at the 500 level and above. Under some circumstances, ABOR guidelines allow qualified advanced undergraduates to take 500 level courses. Courses at the 600 level and above, however, are limited to graduate students (e.g., master’s and doctoral), and 700 level courses are restricted to doctoral students.

ASU has 126 accelerated bachelor's/master's programs that funnel into 72 graduate degrees that allow academically advanced undergraduate students in good academic standing to simultaneously pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degree. An academic unit that wishes to establish an accelerated program must submit a proposal to the Graduate College Dean that describes the program and its rationale and stipulates program admission criteria, the specific requirements for each degree, the standards for monitoring student progress toward degree completion, and benchmarking the quality of the program over time. This process helps ensure that students in these special programs have transparent paths to successful completion of the requirements for both degrees.

3.A.3  The review processes described above maintain programmatic consistency in content and requirements across all modes of delivery and at all ASU locations. On-campus and online programs are developed, approved, and evaluated using a consistent set of university processes. As described above, all courses are developed at the academic unit level, whether on-campus or online, and are subject to the same approval processes by the college or school, by CAPC, and by the Office of the Executive Vice President and University Provost. ASU incorporates the latest technologies and best practices for assessment into online courses. To ensure rigor across online as well as classroom-based courses, ASU is an institutional subscriber to the Quality Matters (QM) program that serves as a national benchmark for online course design. Training and workshops are available to assist faculty in applying the QM rubric to the review of online courses. ASU’s online course designers also recognize and follow guidelines provided in the HLC “Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education.” 

ASU offers 74 undergraduate degree programs, 67 graduate degree programs, 76 undergraduate certificates and minors, and 17 graduate certificate programs completely online. For students whose entire program is online, they are also assigned a Success Coach who guides them through the process to reach their full potential. Coaches focus on goal setting, overcoming obstacles, and achieving success.

Learning outcomes in online courses are embedded into the design of the courses; they are the same as the outcomes expected for the on-campus setting; faculty set the expectations regardless of mode of delivery. Although the same learning outcomes for courses are shared online and on-campus, students are not allowed to move back and forth between the two platforms since there is a difference in how student support is provided. On-campus students do have a set of fully digital courses from which to choose that also have the same learning outcomes and all of the same quality controls as their online and on-campus counterparts.