Asst. News Editor
Every department at Boise State spent the last year analyzing their programs, majors, minors and anything else which could affect students’ education and graduate rates as part of program prioritization.
For University Advancement, program prioritization has been a process of downsizing, restructuring and examining resources.
“What (program prioritization) signifies is that we are in this constant state of continual improvement,” said Laura Simic, vice president for University Advancement. “It is all about providing a better education for our students. It is about how we do what we do better for our students. Knowing that we can never be stagnant, we have to constantly be improving and constantly be willing to change, to evolve to get better.”
To do this, department heads and vice presidents were asked to look over the aspects of their departments and decide what to keep and what to get rid of or consolidate.
Of the 159 minors, alternative degrees, options and emphasises evaluated, 43 are making substantial changes to increase graduation rates and 16 will be consolidated or eliminated. One hundred and thirty-five degree and graduate certificate programs were also evaluated. Twenty-nine are making changes and 22 were marked for low graduate numbers, which means changes will need to be made to increase the number of graduates.
Program prioritization paid a special interest to improving the university by focusing on being aligned with student need and workforce economy after graduation. There was an emphasis placed on eliminating programs that haven’t been used and consolidating programs with similar interests.
For example, the Department of Kinesiology and the School of Social Work will be incorporated into the College of Health Sciences.
“We looked at all the emphasises, the minors, the options and we looked at those and said simply, ‘what is their productivity, how many students are earning (degrees) this year,’” said Provost Martin Schimpf. “If they didn’t meet the threshold, they had to come up with a plan and tell us why.”
According to Schimpf, students currently enrolled in these programs shouldn’t worry. Majors and minors will be taught until students graduate or leave Boise State; these programs will just no longer accept new students.
All evaluated programs will be revisited in 2017 to see if growth and productivity increased.
Asst. News Editor
As part of program prioritization, 242 administrative and support programs were evaluated; 222 require actions which will better align them with the overall goal of Boise State.
The programs were assessed based on four criteria including relevance, overall quality of the program, productivity, or the number of students who graduate, and efficient use of resources.
Better alignment was accomplished by improving existing programs and activities and restructuring them to become more efficient.
To better facilitate student classroom success, student success dashboards were created.
“The idea is that when appropriate, you reach out to the students at risk (of struggling academically),” said Max Davis-Johnson, associate vice president for Information Technology at Boise State. “We’re still working out intervention strategies.”
According to Davis-Johnson, the program has already been initiated for freshmen. The Student Success Dashboard feeds off of what he calls “indicators,” which can be anything from high school test scores to unmet financial aid. A student or faculty advisor will then be able to see if a student is going to struggle throughout the semester, based on prior analysis.
Although this is only the beginning, Davis-Johnson believes this program will work based on his time spent using it at Arizona State, where retention rates went up by 7 percent.
In November a second set of dashboards will be available to advisors to include upperclassmen. It will assess information about students based on their overall GPA and use the degree tracker already in place. Based on this information, advisors will be able to make suggestions to students about what classes to take or if they should switch majors based on performance in other classes.
“It’s a very valuable tool, if we use it properly,” Davis-Johnson said.