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Welcome to our web page. This year marks our department's periodic review, what we call an Academic Audit. So I thought I would use this space to update our constituencies on the process.
According to the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) Office of Academic Affairs, the Academic Audit, "is a faculty-driven model of ongoing self-reflection, peer feedback, collaboration, and teamwork based on structured conversation to improve educational quality processes in teaching and learning...and hence student success." Our Academic Audit site visit took place in April of 2014, but the process itself started much earlier with the preparation of our "self-study," which was thoroughly and generously crafted by Dr. Ginni Blackhart. Subsequent to our self-study submission, the TBR sent an auditing team to ETSU to meet with faculty, students, and various supporting and supported units linked to our department, with a focus on undergraduate programs of study. The audit focused specifically on our undergraduate psychology major and minor, and our five concentrations (behavioral neuroscience, child psychological science, clinical psychological science, cognitive science, and general psychology).
We had a great series of meetings with our Site Visit Team members, who were impressively informed about our department. The Team was comprised of Frank Andrasik (Chair of Psychology at U. Memphis), Deanna Garman (Executive Director of Planning, Research, and Assessment at Walters State), and Scott Woods (Team Chair, and Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Jackson State Community College). But the bottom line was that we received across-the-board "Mets;" which means that we met every single evaluation criterion!
We also received four commendations, three affirmations, and three recommendations. In terms of commendations, the team loved our speaker series requirement, and also our "rigorous matrix of improvement initiatives." The team also affirmed our faculty "collegiality with each other and with internal stakeholders," and the "democratic process utilized ...when making decisions about outcomes, curriculum, and student success."
Our weakest link, though, was our advising system. The team wrote, "In spite of continual efforts by the psychology faculty to improve the advising process, advising continues to be a common complaint among current and former majors. The Visiting team cannot currently envision a workable solution without an advising center dedicated to psychology." This was the Team's #1 recommendation.
The advising issue did not come as a surprise to us, and certainly not to our students, because we had been struggling to address it for years. Our majors more than doubled in less than 10-years, and we added two Ph.D. concentrations. However, it was nice to know that our external review team saw things the same way that we did. As we move forward, and discuss the outcomes of our academic audit with ETSU administration, we hope to begin making some inroads toward improving the quality of our advising system. This is our next great challenge.
Thank you for visiting our webpage. Please keep us in mind in your giving plans, and keep us informed of major professional developments taking place in your lives. I don't think I can overstate how much we enjoy hearing of the successes of our students. Send any news to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have concerns or suggestions about how we might improve our web page, please send those to Dr. Andi Clements at email@example.com.
Wallace E. Dixon, Jr., Ph. D.
Chair and Professor of Psychology