Due to the hierarchical structure of Outcomes, each course and section can only be nested under one Parent Unit. This affects the reporting abilities of those courses and sections. Requests for data, called Connections, are a top-down process. One organizational unit can only create Connections from organizational units nested below them in the organizational hierarchy.
We know that campus structures and assessment needs don’t always operate that way. There are often academic programs or interdisciplinary courses that require assessment.
Campus Labs offers the Academic Programs File to allow for these types of listings. This is an Optional Core Data file that can be used in the Outcomes Platform. Using this Core Data file, courses would be nested under their original departments (according to the Organizational Units File) and they would also be included in a separate program grouping of interdisciplinary courses or courses in a specific academic program. This would allow for the courses to fulfill data requests from their host departments as well as reporting to the program. Please note that the Academic Programs is not the only option to address interdisciplinary issues. Contact your Campus Labs Consultant for further discussion or scroll to the end of the article.
Academic Programs are functional in the platform in that you can write learning outcomes, receive Connections, and assign/relate Connections at the program level.
In the following scenario, the College of Arts & Science has two departments, each with their own courses.
The College of Arts & Science also has an International Studies Department that is comprised of interdisciplinary courses and offers an academic program. The program has its own assessment goals.
GEO 250 and PSC 200 are both included in the International Studies program. These courses will need to report to both their parent organizational units and to the interdisciplinary program. We can create International Studies as an Academic Program to allow for that type of reporting.
In this scenario, GEO 250 would be able to fulfill Connections from the Geography Department and the International Studies Program. PSC 200 would be able to fulfill Connections from the Political Science Department and the International Studies Program. Furthermore, each department would be able to see a list of all the courses nested below them and the International Studies Program would also be able to see a centralized list of all the courses listed in the program.
Courses can be contained in multiple course groupings and academic programs.
Academic Programs can be nested under any Organizational unit.
Other Interdisciplinary Options
There are other available methods to achieve interdisciplinary reporting. Recall that Outcomes reporting is hierarchical. If a learning outcome needs to be assessed in an interdisciplinary setting and you don’t want to use an Academic Program, then all you need to do is write the learning outcome at an appropriate organizational level so that you can Connect the outcome down to all the courses.
Using the scenario above, the International Studies Learning Outcomes could be written at the College of Arts & Science. Since the courses needed to collect data, GEO 250 and PSC 200, are nested below the College of Arts & Science’s child units, the College can request data from the courses. While the interdisciplinary courses are not located on centralized location, additional reporting levels are gained if the Connections are assigned to the departments and then assigned to the courses.