Assurance of Learning Curriculum Content Inventory (AoL CCI)

The School of Business Administration has developed an annual survey to obtain curricular content to ensure forward-looking professional studies are integrated with liberal arts and sciences.

Bright, ambitious students and a thoughtfully crafted curriculum are only part of the equation for educating a new generation of business leaders. The heart and soul of the business programs are the faculty who make academic theory come to life and share their knowledge, research, and business connections with students. Our faculty are distinguished as scholars, outstanding as teachers and committed to student excellence.

After much debate, three major data collection instruments were proposed. The first was an Assurance of Learning Curriculum Content Inventory (AoL CCI) of the content of all classes taught by our faculty including concepts covered, as well as a survey of the assessment tools used in each course to test student achievement. Assessment tools inventoried included the type and number of exams and quizzes, the number of projects and papers assigned, etc. We determined that we needed to evaluate the aggregate curricular focus and quantify the total experience of our program, which would allow the targeting of specific areas for review and/or adjustment to our program.

A faculty committee developed an on-line tool to capture these data from all faculty members. The tool was broken into three major areas: Mission driven areas of focus, Competencies important to areas of study, and a catalog Learning Assessment methods used to establish student achievement. The objective was to align faculty curricular coverage with our mission statement and with expected student competencies. We also needed to be able to compare and contrast subjective and objective quality measures, i.e., student satisfaction versus competency. The questionnaire was modeled on a spreadsheet- based data gathering form prepared by the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Business[i]. The committee used a listing of topics by area covered by the ETS test as well as faculty input from each area to compile the list of important areas of coverage. We obtained data for 83 courses using a Likert scale of 1-5: 1=Topic Covered Not at all, 2=Topic Covered Slightly, 3=Topic Covered Somewhat, 4=Topic Covered Moderately & 5=Topic Covered Heavily.

The first section of the tool (Mission Elements) covers those aspects of the education which should span the entire curriculum and instill the values in our students that are particular to our organization. A summary of the focus of our entire curriculum can be seen in Table 1, showing an aggregate measure of institutional focus on each mission element, as well as the number of courses reporting a particular level of focus for that element. An examination of the “Sense of History” mission element (first mission element in Table 1) shows that in eight of the eighty three courses, the instructor indicated that he/she covered this topic heavily (column headed “5”) while it was not covered at all (column headed “1”) in fourteen of the courses. While the average of 2.81 is not directly comparable to other elements, it does give a sense of the average level of emphasis over the entire curriculum. Of particular importance to most business school curricula is the development of critical thinking skills. It was reassuring to find that sixty two (75%) of the eighty three courses are reported by the faculty as having covered this topic either heavily or moderately.

The second section of the tool (competencies) gathered information regarding the skills, topics and area specific competencies one might expect to be taught in a standard business curriculum (see data generated on “Operations management” curriculum delivery). All courses are evaluated by the instructor to determine how much emphasis is given to each skill. For instance, an instructor will gauge how much focus certain economic fundamentals, financial concepts and advanced marketing competencies are given within a particular marketing course. One can then analyze where certain topics are covered and reinforced, or how a certain class is taught by varying instructors, or just as importantly, where one might find holes in the curriculum. See the discussion in the case analysis section of this paper for an example of a per-course analysis of varying instructor styles and the effect on the delivery of one course in the business curriculum.

Section III (Learning Assessment Methods), provides us with a synopsis of learning assessment methods used. The instructor lists how many exams, quizzes, papers, projects, homework assignments, etc., when offering this course. From this, we are able to create a profile of expected assessment mechanisms for any given course or program. Also, it may be useful to compare objective achievement measures with in class assessment mechanism results to establish which assessment mechanisms more accurately track real achievement. The results gathered in this section yield the following types of information: students on average can expect to see approximately two (2) formal examinations per course consisting of, in general, 21% true/false, 13% short answers, 26% quantitative, 25% essay and 15% other (multiple choice, etc.); about four written quizzes per course consisting of approximately 20% true false, 14% short answer, 13% quantitative questions; very few essay questions; almost 50% multiple choice; practically no oral exams/quizzes; about three (3) cases; four (4) homework sets; and about a 50% chance of doing an individual or group presentation or group paper.

[i] Herman, S. and C. Read. 2003. Embedding and Measuring Knowledge and Skills. AACSB Management for Accreditation Conference, December 7-9. Unpublished presentation. Log onContact Us UVM School of Business Administration - Burlington, VT 05405 (802) 656-3175