Carteret Community College Title III Grant

Section 4: Need for Change


A. SWOT Analysis/Focus Group

  • Description of process
  • Discussion of results

B. Recommendations to improve the program and Strategies for change – based on student/employer follow-up, assessments completed and SWOT analysis; Closing the loop.

C. ASAP Objectives developed as a result of this process.

D. A one-year follow-up report to the VP for Instruction on the progress of C above (due April 15, the year following the review).

Detailed Description

Using outcome assessment and accountability measures results to improve programs and services is the most important aspect of annual review. By assessing outcomes, programs often find that students are not doing well in certain areas or that changes need to be made to keep up with trends in the field. Finding program weaknesses or need for change is a “good thing”. This gives a program direction for making changes and the ability to document the effort taken to make program improvements (true institutional effectiveness). Results from measuring student outcomes should be used in this section

Most programs in higher education feel strongly that they are offering a good program that is state-of-the-art in their field. Often this is not true and programs would benefit in taking a frequent inventory of program effectiveness, strengths and weaknesses and make regular feedback part of their planning process. Students and employers are excellent sources of perceived program strengths and weaknesses. Five sections that must be included are:

A. The SWOT Analysis / Focus Group

The SWOT analysis gathers internal and external stakeholders and elicits what they perceive to be the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the program.

  • Internal stakeholders may be current students and non-program faculty.
  • External stakeholders may be graduates, employers, relevant industry representatives.
  • This section requires a description of the process (e.g. list of participants, date of meeting, etc…).
  • What are the results?

The SWOT Analysis Timeline

Facilitating the SWOT and analyzing the data is intensive work. It is also critically important data for your program review. Therefore, SWOT meetings will be scheduled as soon as possible, so that the data and analysis can be turned into a useful product for your review. For this reason, programs under review are being asked to schedule a SWOT meeting to be held before October 7, 2010. The meeting will be facilitated by Title III, or someone appointed by Title III, and data and analysis will be returned to the review team no later than November 1, 2010. Please work with Title III in scheduling your program’s SWOT.

B. Recommendations and strategies for change based on assessments and SWOT analysis (click here for an example)

SACS wants colleges to “close the loop” or use feedback to improve programs. Programs often claim “on paper” to use student feedback to make programmatic changes but evidence of those changes is never recognized. This is why Section Four is so critical to the review process. Programs that are reviewed in a given year will be required to submit a brief document in the Spring of the following year identifying all the programmatic changes made as a result of assessing program and student outcomes the previous year during their annual review.

As the results of the various assessments are analyzed, recommendations based on the findings will start to cluster. You should include a chapter in your report that describes actions taken to improve the program or discipline during the evaluation process and provides a plan to accomplish the recommendations and suggestions you make.

As the recommendations and suggestions emerge, so will the action plan. Resist the urge to write the action plan before all the assessments are completed and recommendations are made. Recommendations and suggestions should be placed throughout the report where the supporting data are reported. Make sure that each recommendation and suggestion is clearly supported by the evidence you present. It is very helpful (both to you as you write the report as well as to readers later) to list all recommendations and suggestions made at the end of the chapter in which they appear. Each recommendation and suggestion that you make throughout the report must also appear as part of your action plan.

C. A one-year follow-up on strategies for change

A recommendation describes an action that must be taken to achieve the goals and objectives of the program or discipline and to make the program effective. The recommendations must be tied to supporting evidence in your report and must be directly and clearly related to the goals and objectives of your program or discipline. Recommendations are to be related to program or discipline specific issues, not college-wide policies and procedures, and include an action to be taken, a rationale for the action, the title of the person responsible for taking the action, and a due date.

Your Division Director will be required to report on the implementation of your action plan one year after it is approved by the President and again one year after that. Therefore, recommendations should address those areas over which you have some control and influence. Do not, for example, indicate that an action must be taken by “the college,” but name the person who will be responsible and accountable for carrying out the recommended action. Finally,

remember this is your action plan. It will detail what you and your colleagues plan to do to improve the effectiveness of your program.

This is where you can tie your findings and plan to your ASAP objectives.

A suggestion describes an action that should be taken to improve the program’s or discipline’s effectiveness. Each suggestion must also define a plan for action in the same way a recommendation does. Obviously, suggestions are not as strong as recommendations and therefore should define areas that while not crucial to the effectiveness of a program or discipline would, if carried out, enhance it.

o The following format is recommended for each recommendation and suggestion in your action plan.  A detailed description of what you will submit next year can be read here. Also, the form you will be required to submit, in order to report on implementation of your action plan is here.

click to download pdf of form

RECOMMENDATION: Include the page number in the report where it appears.

USE OF RESULTS: The evidence from your report that supports the recommendation or suggestion.

ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN: This should be specific in nature. Just what, exactly, is to be done?

RESPONSIBILITY Name a single person (or position) as the responsible party (and it should be someone over whom you have influence since this is, after all, your action plan).

DATE BY: Be realistic here. The wheels of academia grind slowly.

Below are examples of how a program level learning outcomes summary might look.


Program Goal: Seventy five percent of cosmetology students will display accurate safety and health procedures. The student must obtain a passing grade of seventy five percent.

Assessment Techniques: Clinical observation by instructor with rubric.

Assessment Outcome: 65% of the students received a grade of 75% (or higher) on their clinical observation.

Recommendations: Students need a better understanding of Safety & Health procedures.

Actions to be Taken: Students will receive a greater attention to Safety & Health procedures in relevant courses, and during clinical practice. Analysis of those courses that have a Safety & Health component; revise syllabi if necessary.


Program Goal: 85% of students will pass the skill portion of the Law Enforcement Driver Training with a score of 70% or better.

Assessment Techniques: Driver’s Training Assessment

Assessment Outcome: 75% of students are able to pass the skill portion of the LEDT with a score of 70% or better.

Recommendations: Disaggregate components of skill portion. Make a determination as to which of these are creating the greatest challenge to the students.

Actions to be Taken: Increased training for components that create greatest challenges to students.


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