Monthly Archives: August 2013

Week of August 26-30, 2013

Hopefully, the semester is settling in for you and your students are getting serious about learning and working on their research projects.  This week’s post explores some recent perception data trends collected in the Graduate School through exit surveys of our graduates over the past three years (2011-2013).  These data are presented in aggregated form.  I can also disaggregate these data by graduate program, if you are interested.

Between 2011-2013, most responses on the Graduate School Exit Survey have been positive (µ = 4.28, σ = .79).  However, five opportunities for improvement are indicated:

Opportunity #1 – promptness of instructor feedback.  With a mean of 3.87 and a standard deviation of 1.11, this is perceived by our students as our weakest area.


Opportunity #2 -access to specialized disciplinary technology applications (i.e., SPSS, desktop-to-desktop conferencing, etc.). With a mean of 3.88 and a standard deviation of .86, this is perceived by our students as our 2nd weakest area.


Opportunity #3 – instructor skill with disciplinary instructional technology. With a mean of 3.90 and a standard deviation of .88, this is perceived by our students as our 3rd weakest area.


Opportunity #4 – satisfaction with quality of faculty feedback on course work.  With a mean of 3.94 and a standard deviation of 1.08, this is perceived by our students as our 4th weakest area.


Opportunity #5 – Commencement ceremony satisfaction. With a mean of 3.94 and a standard deviation of .9, this is perceived by our students as our 5th weakest area.


Of these five opportunities, the first and fourth are the ones we can improve upon most easily.  Over 81% of our graduate students take courses through the Virtual College or in a hybrid (Virtual College + on campus) delivery method.  For some perspective, seven years ago this percentage was 66%.  Students at a distance from campus want the prompt feedback they are used to getting in a classroom on campus.  Certainly, the university needs to invest more resources into making your job easier in this area, but thanks for working to keep these students at a distance better engaged.


The other opportunities are more difficult to improve upon. Granted, some disciplines may not use instructional technology to the extent others do, but as professors we need to stay current or risk obsolescence.  Our Commencement ceremony is at the mercy of the weather given the non-air conditioned Gross Coliseum.  This past year’s hot ceremony data surely is reflected here.

Keep up your good work and thanks for your support of graduate education at FHSU.  Next week, I’ll post more about the characteristics of our Graduate School.  You might be shocked to learn that 18% of our 2013 survey respondents are currently unemployed.


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Week of August 19-23, 2013

Last week, I shared our Graduate School learner outcomes data on our first unit-wide learner outcome dealing with advanced disciplinary knowledge, skills, and abilities. This week, I will share data on learner outcomes #2 and #3 from Spring, 2013.  Thank you to all graduate faculty and departments that are sharing these important data on the admission to candidacy form each semester.

Learner outcome #2 asks program faculty to evaluate each degree candidate in the area of introductory scholarship skills that fit the FHSU definition of scholarly activity.  There were 206 students evaluated for candidacy in the Spring, 2013 semester and the mean value was 4.21 with a standard deviation of .85.  In constructing a box plot, one can see that the median value was slightly below the mean at 4.09 and the 3rd and 4th quartiles span the same overlapping values between 4.09 and 5 (i.e. there is no distinctive 4th quartile of data).  The 2nd quartile is quite small.  This indicates a right-skewed distribution of these data, which can be viewed as a positive description of student performance.  The majority of these data confirm that these 206 students performed at the “mastering” (4) or “practicing” (5) level of assessment in the area of scholarly activities.

Learner outcome #3 measures professional written communication skills and these data are also similarly encouraging.  The mean (4.24) is slightly below the median (4.33) and the standard deviation is .87.  The majority of these data also confirm that the assessed students performed at the “mastering” (4) or “practicing” (5) level in the area of written professional communication.



Deadlines for the coming semester have been emailed to all graduate students and posted on our Facebook page.  Thank you for keeping your students well advised about the comprehensive examination, candidacy, and intent to graduate procedures.  Linda Garner and JoAnne Crispin work diligently to assist students reach their goals of earning a graduate degree and rely heavily upon timely assistance from graduate faculty advisors.  Department chairs, it is time again to nominate faculty members in your department for consideration as graduate faculty members.

Thank you for your continued support of graduate education at FHSU.


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Reflections on the Fall, 2013 Convocation

Congratulations to graduate faculty Dr. Chris Crawford (President’s Distinguished Scholar), Dr. Jennifer Bonds-Raacke (Faculty Member of the Year), and Dr. Robert Moody (National Academic Advising Association’s Certificate of Merit) who won prestigious university awards this morning!  Also congratulations to Christa Weigel (Edmund Shearer Advising Award) and Mehran Shahidi (Internationalization of the Campus and Curriculum Award).   This morning we heard Dr. Hammond announce the university theme for the year – “The Power of One”.  I’d like to expound on that a bit and its application to graduate education, research, and internationalization in this post.

One can look at a unit such as the university faculty from the perspective of being “one” stakeholder group and I believe that was the argument Dr. Hammond made this morning in complimenting the group as a whole by extracting individual example data points to support this from various programs.  I believe the strategy was one of trying to draw a Gestalt analogy whereby the whole of the university is greater than the sum of all its parts.  With the exception of mentioning US News and World Report rankings data on three of our online graduate programs, the Graduate School did not have much on display this morning.  What’s the takeaway from this? I know the conclusion most would jump to, but I want to encourage you to “jump” the other way – to one of opportunity.

This morning is why collecting learner outcomes data is important.  If we cannot articulate what we do well in the Graduate School without resorting to rankings, we need to develop better ammunition.  We began last year to take some early steps in the learner outcomes direction and I am going to work on compiling these data over the next few months, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if the world considered educational success in terms other than comparison/competition?  I used to pose this question to my students in the Department of Music.  Competition is deeply embedded in the discipline of music…often for positive results such as bringing the overall level of performance to a higher standard, but also often for negative results which lead to emotional and psychological health issues and damage.  Where does the balance lie?  Unfortunately, I do not see comparison/competition going away because it is so deeply embedded in human nature.  We can, however, bring some different data forward that shows what the Graduate School does for our students in terms of adding value over time.


Here is a summary chart of how the Graduate School added value to 500 students who sat for comprehensive examinations last year.  You can see that the mean of these 500 assessments was 3.91 (on a 5.0 scale) for the year with a standard deviation of 1.04.  A 4.0 value is defined as “mastering – the student displays advanced level disciplinary work in most examples”.  I was quite pleased to see these data as I believe it emphasizes the value we add to our students near the end of their program of study.  In future posts, I will share the data from last year reported for learner outcomes #2 and #3.  Assessing your students and reporting these data to the Graduate School is important.  Thank you for continuing to work on ways to do that efficiently and effectively within your program.

The only research item that made the presentation this morning was the handout of the Scholarly Environment Committee’s proposal for a system of reassigned time to support undergraduate research.  Please take a look at this and give feedback to the Provost.  Undergraduate research gets a lot of attention and funding these days, but let’s not forget that all of our graduate programs require a minimal amount of research training and activity and it is one of the learner outcomes we measure each semester.  Faculty research and creative activity is also one of the best kept secrets at FHSU…please challenge yourself to continue to be productive even after tenure.  An adage I learned in graduate school that I try to teach to my students is “the more you know about your discipline, the more you learn you really don’t know”.  Hopefully, you have similar anecdotes to keep your spirits up.  The Graduate School, Forsyth Library, your college, and department are going to continue to support research and creative activities even as budgets continue to decline .

Internationalization of the campus and curriculum was given a boost this morning with the first faculty/staff award for Internationalization of the Campus and Curriculum.  The establishment of this award was one of the objectives last year of the Internationalization Team.  Thank you to the Provost for recognizing its value and agreeing to fund the award.  Congratulations to Mehran Shahidi for the win today! The team is going to continue to work on three new projects this year: 1] establishing and supporting the Center for Learning, Literacy, Culture and Writing in Forsyth Library, 2] continuing to develop alumni chapters with our international students, and 3] promoting more education abroad activity.  Look for more news in these areas soon.

Finally, the Provost talked about the Red Balloon project and unveiled the Red Balloon web site (  There are some good ideas here and I encourage you to continue to be creative in thinking of ways to apply these concepts to the Graduate School.  Keep up the good work as we head into the semester!


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Fall, 2013 – August Convocation

Welcome back to all returning graduate faculty!  On Wednesday, Dr. Hammond will officially open the new year.  I hope your summer was restful and productive and that you are looking forward to the opportunities of the coming new year.  My staff in the Graduate School remained busy supporting the summer session, but we had time to reflect upon the coming year and design some new objectives to better serve our stakeholders.  This post will give a brief overview of things we plan to concentrate on in the coming months.  I’ll divide it into three areas – Graduate School, Scholarship and Sponsored Projects, and Internationalization:

Graduate School

Applications continue to arrive daily for the 21 degree programs we support.  This summer we enrolled about 200 more graduate students than we did last summer and enrollment figures for Fall, 2013 are encouraging.  I continue to believe that programs attract students at the graduate level.  At this point in time, enrollments in professional graduate programs are soaring while enrollments in research-based programs remain stable or, in some disciplines, are declining.   The second point about recruiting graduate students at FHSU is how important the dedication of a core graduate faculty member leader is to the success of the program.  Programs that succeed are often identified with a particular faculty member.  Keep up the great work!

There are several new concentrations that will be launching this Fall.  Critical faculty leaders are identified in parentheses.  The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) program will launch four new concentrations: political management (Rackaway), social entrepreneurship (Campbell), Instructional Design (Becking), and Chemistry (Wiese).   The Master of Science in Geosciences will launch four new concentrations: Petroleum Entrepreneurship (Ali), GIS Applications for Business (Heinrichs), Small Museum Entrepreneurship (Barrick), and Remote Sensing Technologist (Heinrichs).  The Master of Science in Education program will begin offering a concentration in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (Dalat-Ward) and Higher Education Student Affairs (Barrett). Finally, the Master of Fine Arts program will begin offering a new concentration in Intermedia.  More ideas are being worked through with various departments across the university to design concentrations to meet the needs of students in our region.  Thanks to all these leaders and their department chairs and deans for recognizing the needs of our students and being supportive.  You make Fort Hays State University a great place to work.

Scholarship and Sponsored Projects

We are pleased to welcome Anna Towns as Leslie Paige’s new assistant for the Office of Scholarship and Sponsored Projects (OSSP) this year as we continue to provide support for sponsored projects, IRB, IACUC, and the Undergraduate Research Experience (URE).  We had an excellent year last year in external funding and the annual report should be ready in the coming weeks.  The IRB continued to provide excellent service to the university community and we successfully launched an IACUC committee to review protocols involving animal use.  This summer Dr. Kobayashi began the process of inspecting our facilities and did excellent work on our required contingency plan.  Undergraduate research surged again last year as new faculty members began worked on projects with undergraduates eager to learn more about their disciplines through research and creative activities.  Last year we organized the first annual Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol in conjunction with the other Kansas public universities.  We will continue to participate in that opportunity for our students in the coming year.  Dr. Jerry Spotswood, Assistant Dean of the Graduate School, performed excellent work in laying the groundwork for and publishing the first issue of the Journal of Academic Leadership in Student Research.  One new idea that the Scholarship Environment Committee is discussing with the Provost is the concept of a reassigned time “bank” for faculty members who mentor undergraduate students over several semesters.  Look for that possible opportunity in the coming months.


Last year, the Internationalization Team examined our current campus internationalization progress according to a national survey produced by the American Council on Education.  Our results indicate we are doing quite well in comparison to similar state comprehensive institutions of our size.  Some opportunities for improvement were discussed and the concept of a Provost’s annual faculty/staff internationalization award emerged.  The first award will be presented at this year’s Convocation.  I am also excited to partner with Forsyth Library in the creation of a new Center for Language, Literacy, Culture, and Writing on the first floor of the library this fall.  Over the coming weeks, you will see more publicity on this initiative.  We hope that this center will emerge as an essential student resource for supporting all of our students.  Thanks to the following collaborative efforts of the following departments and units, this effort will be an exciting addition to our campus internationalization efforts: Forsyth Library, Graduate School, Department of English, Department of Modern Languages, ESL program, and the Office of International Student Services.

September is the time to plan faculty-led study abroad experiences.  If you are interested, please contact me so that I can help.  The university has developed a Faculty-Led Short-Term Study Abroad Guidebook that can help you design your experience.  Several departments offered summer experiences for their students in the past year including Modern Languages, Nursing, Center for Civic Leadership, Geosciences, and the Math and Science Institute.  The university will hold its annual Study Abroad Fair in the Union on September 25 from 11am-1pm, so that is an excellent time to market your programs and recruit students.

Advisors – don’t forget about the university minors and certificates with international themes as you discuss opportunities with your students in your classes.  You have direct contact with our students, so your importance in promoting internationalization of the campus and curriculum is critical.

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