Establishing New Degree Programs
SAFIIT is committed to the delivery of high quality, market-driven academic programs. Before new programs are approved by the board of trustees, they must be justified by considerations of quality, cost, enrollment, implications for other programs and courses, faculty and institution missions, market need and demand, and resource feasibility. Unique new majors or degree options should be pursued only when the variation from existing curricula is substantial, and when the program fulfills a demonstrable student demand that is likely to continue. Proposals for new academic programs should be developed in consultation with disciplinary staff and administrative units and reflect strategic as well as academic deliberations. Before approval is granted by the board of trustees, proposals for new degree programs must be approved by the appropriate dean, the president, and the board of trustees chair advisors.
Proposals or plans to establish new degree programs must address the following criteria and strategic elements:
- Ongoing availability of credentialed faculty
- Program leadership by senior professors
- Ability to move student cohorts through in a timely manner
- Market need and demand documented by current, valid and reliable evidence including external sources (e.g. business, industry, experts)
- Availability of recurring fiscal resources
- Policies and procedures to assess student learning outcomes and student success
- Analysis of new program’s impact on existing administrative and student services (e.g. advising, tutoring, career services, etc.)
- Programs goals that are clear, assessable and consistent with Faculty and Institution goals
- Academic integrity of the curriculum
- Inclusion of the four pillars or competencies of an SAFIIT education as well as information literacy
- New library services and collections
- Needs for new resources (e.g. laboratories, technology, equipment, teaching staff, etc.)
- Methods of teaching and student evaluation
- Methods of teaching evaluation
The Pillars of an SAFIIT Education
SAFIIT embraces its mission to “promote an atmosphere that values intellectual curiosity, the pursuit of knowledge, and academic freedom and integrity.” To achieve this mission, certain pillars of an SAFIIT education are embedded in the curriculum of all Faculties. These pillars are designed to prepare students to be productive members of society. Cultivated by all Faculties, the pillars also equip SAFIIT students to become independent lifelong learners.
The four pillars of an SAFIIT education are the essential and fundamental competencies associated with higher education. They are:
1. Critical Thinking: objective analysis and evaluation of information and concepts from multiple perspectives.
2. Knowledge Integration: application and synthesis of information and concepts from diverse disciplines.
3. Effective Communication: strong facility in oral and written communication; use of visual resources and technology for communication.
4. Social Responsibility: respectful and civil treatment of others; active participation in civil and democratic institutions; protection of the environment and intelligent use of natural resources.
All SAFIIT Faculties cover the four competencies throughout their respective curricula. In addition, SAFIIT courses focus on one or more of the following learning objectives:
- The development of analytical-thinking skills
- The development of effective written, oral, and visual communication
- The integration of knowledge from many disciplines
- The encouragement of social responsibility and personal accountability
- The promotion of cross-cultural competence and awareness of the world at large
- The encouragement of data-driven, evidence-based analyses and decisions
- The cultivation of scientific and quantitative reasoning
In addition to the four competencies, information literacy is an essential and complementary skill that permeates the SAFIIT learning experience. Information literacy is the ability to recognize when information is needed and the wherewithal to locate, evaluate and effectively use information. Information literacy is indispensable for independent lifelong learning in the 21st century and provides the scaffolding of effective democratic institutions.
Approval of all new academic programs and courses requires evidence of learning goals based on the four pillars and information literacy.
Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes
SAFIIT strives to provide its students with a high quality education. To ensure this, SAFIIT is committed to a culture of success which is monitored through on-going assessments of its academic programs which feed back into its academic planning process. Assessment helps faculties determine if students are acquiring the required knowledge, skills, and values. The goal of assessment is to examine the qualitative and quantitative evidence generated about student competence and to use the evidence to improve the learning of current and future students. All SAFIIT faculties are responsible for developing procedures for the assessment of student learning. Before implementation, procedures must be approved by the appropriate dean, the president, and the board of trustees chair advisors. All faculties are expected, on an annual basis, to report assessment results to the president.
Guidelines and Principles of Academic Assessment
Academic assessment is based on formal statements of “intended learning outcomes” that are developed by each faculty and by the university. Statements of intended learning outcomes or competences provide the foundation for assessment. They capture what is important for learning and guide choices for data collection. However, equally important, these provide the foundation for decisions about instruction. To be useful in guiding assessment, statements of expected competences need to describe student learning rather than teacher behavior or subject matter coverage. Each faculty’s goals for student learning should be consistent with mastery of the discipline as well as achievement of the competencies of the four pillars of an SAFIIT education, namely critical thinking, knowledge integration, effective communication, and social responsibility.
Academic assessment is designed primarily to collect information about student performance and learning in the aggregate in order to ground judgments about overall program quality or uncover general strengths and weaknesses that can be used as the basis for further program development. The primary purpose is to draw conclusions about teaching and learning, not to evaluate individual students or faculty. In sum, the goal is to continually gather information at the program level and to use the information to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning.
The assessment procedures of each faculty document the following components:
- Articulation of program goals which reflect international disciplinary standards and norms
- Identification of specific educational outcomes
- Identification of methods of assessment including when in the curriculum and how learning outcomes will be assessed
- A process of faculty review which ensures that the results are used for program development and improvement