Highlights of the Assurance Argument Pt. 3: Cedarville Offers High-Quality Education

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August 30, 2016

This is the third in a series of Updates summarizing our Assurance Argument.  These highlights cover Criterion 3: Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support. 

Qualified Faculty and Staff. In our hiring practices, both Human Resources and the various divisions and departments have multiple policies and processes to assure that we hire only the most qualified faculty and staff.  In addition to documented faculty qualifications there is a new HLC Faculty Qualifications mandate coming in Sept. 2017 that will require specific qualifications or tested experience for teaching a specific course.  Although this is not required by HLC until over a year from now,  under the direction of Dr. McClain, Dean of Graduate and Extended Learning Programs, faculty created and approved the Faculty Qualifications Policy at the end of 2015. Teaching qualifications for particular courses were developed by faculty in each department/school.  Dr. Thomas Mach, Assistant Vice President for Academics, is overseeing the compliance with the coming guidelines.  Processes for this include the collection and monitoring of the faculty qualifications and tested experience identified by each department/school, regular faculty file audits conducted by the Office of the Vice President for Academics, and an upcoming  feature in Ellucian (the University’s enterprise resource planning system) that will issue a red flag if a faculty member is assigned to teach courses for which he/she is not qualified.

Multiple Modalities. Courses taught in multiple modalities is an area that will come under special scrutiny as well.  HLC requires that courses maintain the same rigor and content regardless of the mode of delivery, be it face-to-face, online, hybrid, or compressed.  Additionally we must guarantee that the growing College Now program for high school students to take college-level courses for dual credit must use only regular qualified CU professors.  We may not ‘dumb down’ any courses for high-school students.  As a matter of fact, we  don’t offer any courses for high-schoolers only;  all enrolled high-school students are integrated with our own regularly enrolled undergraduate students.  Furthermore, we must prove that courses dual-listed as undergraduate/graduate for our growing graduate programs  must show a suitable increase of content and rigor for the graduate student.

Co-curriculars and Support Services. As we all know, a student’s education is not limited to Academics alone, and we are very happy to report that HLC recognizes this.  Activities formerly labeled as extracurricular are now considered co-curricular.  Athletic programs and Student Life/Christian Ministry programs, service learning opportunities and other such non-academic experiences are valued as a full part of a student’s education.  This is very important for Cedarville, as many programs in these divisions support the “lifelong leadership and service” and the “Christ-centered learning community” of the Mission.  Co-curriculars must also be assessed with periodic and systematic means of assessment, just like the curricular programs. Both SLCM and Athletics have a very rigorous assessment reporting system.  We think that even among the many schools accredited by HLC, Cedarville just might be taking the lead in this area.  We are thankful to the leadership of Alan Geist and Jon Wood in co-curricular assessment.

Support Services are important to HLC and at Cedarville we have a very robust support for all students.  As the student population expands beyond the cornfield borders and includes more and more distance learners, our support services, such as the Cove, the Writing Center, UMS, Counseling, and the Library, are ready to reach these learners with the same level of support, albeit in an online environment.  There are even means for online students with disabilities to obtain accommodations through the Cove.  Kim Ahlgrim just told me that they are launching a new online support resource in the very near future specifically for online learners.

Holistic Educational Experience. Finally, the idea of holistic educational experience is very important to HLC.  From all that I’ve discussed it is not hard to realize that Cedarville also shines in this area.  This embraces everything that we offer to and for students that contributes to shaping them into the graduates that reflect our Portrait Statements.  From daily Chapel with Dr. White’s sermon series, to invited speakers, conferences, ministry opportunities, Athletics, intramural sports, dorm life, internship and field experience opportunities, our students graduate from Cedarville with a well rounded and again, robust “Cedarville experience.” Alumni surveys administered 3 years out affirm that Cedarville has made a significant difference in their lives in terms of holistic education.

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