Developing a college course: You’re part of a big picture of curriculum procedures and accrediting standards

When you develop a course syllabus, you are part of a much bigger process that includes your own department’s curriculum, the university’s curriculum guidelines, and accrediting standards.

At the University of Florida, every college is required to develop measureable student learning outcomes (SLOs) and to collect data on every student in the college. This new requirement is due to an upcoming accrediting assessment of UF in 2014 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Faculty are to use the student results of the assessment of the SLOs to evaluate and improve teaching and learning.

As a college, we also have accrediting standards from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC), the accrediting component of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). Communications programs are evaluated on nine accrediting standards. Standard 2 is Curriculum and Instruction.

Take a quick read though Standard 2 — professional values and competencies and the indicators for assessment — and consider those factors in relation to the course that you would like to teach.

The curriculum of communications programs has become a hot topic of discussion in the last couple of years. Programs are grappling with how to respond to the changes going on in the media industry. Some say that time spent on teaching hardware and software takes away from teaching the fundamentals. Others say that the changes in the media industry have changed what the fundamentals are.

Read An Open Letter to America’s University Presidents that was written by the leaders of six major grant-awarding foundations that have been funders of initiatives in communications and higher education. The letter was published Aug. 3, 2012, and has caused some lively debate.

Also read “Not So Fast,” one of the many responses countering the letter.

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