V. Self-study Related to Three Themes

V. Self-study Related to Three Themes

During the self-review leading up to the Institutional Proposal, NPS identified several areas in which the campus was beginning to work, or needed to work more, to enhance our planning and institutional effectiveness. The increases in academic programs and student enrollment, as well as fiscal, administrative and physical factors, made a review of these critical infrastructures necessary. The review of the WASC Criteria for Review, plus the results of an institution-wide SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) survey, also helped identify three areas, which were then crafted into the main themes of the proposal. These themes are: 1) Strategic planning for the next centennial, 2) Integrating a campus-wide program for improvement and 3) Supporting an evolving academic enterprise. What follows is an examination of each of the themes from the standpoint of capacity and resources in support of the academic mission. (43) [CFR 1.2, 1.9, 4.3]

Theme 1: Strategic Planning for the Next Centennial

Process for Strategic Planning, Change Management and Implementation

To achieve these goals, NPS developed a strong and coherent strategic plan that integrated important inputs from accreditation reviews; key objectives for national defense strategies, military strategies, and strategic maritime security; as well as the relevancy of stated educational and research outcomes to the defense mission. [CFR 1.2, 4.2]

The plan was informed through two major internal information collection efforts. First, an overall SWOT evaluation was initiated by the Executive Council. Each major division within the university was invited to present their most important issues, which were then combined into one document. (44) Following this effort, a survey was distributed to all faculty and staff asking for input as well. The NPS WASC Steering Committee compiled and reviewed data from that survey. (45) [CFR 4.3, 4.5]

In 2006, a small team comprised of executive leadership at the Naval Postgraduate School began meetings to review institutional data and draft its new strategic plan for the next NPS Centennial. During 2007, the President and Provost presented a first draft of the strategic plan for review and input to the Secretary of the Navy, Donald Winter. This was followed by a series of campus presentations to the Deans, Chairs, the faculty and staff of NPS. These meetings stimulated vigorous discussion and feedback that further defined and clarified the unique mission and priorities of the Naval Postgraduate School as a flagship educational institution. Inputs from these groups were included in the final strategic plan that was presented to the Board of Advisors in April 2008. This plan, Vision for a New Century, was later published and made available to all constituents to serve as a framework to better align academic planning, resource allocation, and the periodic assessment of institutional processes and programs. (17) [CFR 1.2, 4.2]

Through its strategic planning process, NPS demonstrates an ongoing institutional commitment to enterprise-wide collaboration among stakeholders about short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals. Campus strategic planning was defined as an iterative process that involves periodic inputs and review by external sponsors, key military and academic administrators, alumni leaders, faculty, staff, and students. This strategic plan endeavored to integrate the findings from relevant institutional information, campus surveys and focus groups, as well as the indirect benefits derived from the experiences of peer institutions. Institutional financial data typically used for planning and evaluation were contrasted with emerging/changing indicators of both internal and external benchmarks for success. Although new processes have been initiated, the work is ongoing and overseen by the Strategic Planning Council, a group formed by the President and Executive Vice President and Provost earlier this year. The Strategic Planning Council is comprised of the representatives from the administration and faculty. (46, 47) [CFR 1.2, 4.2]

The Strategic Planning Council held an off-site meeting on April 2, 2008, at which the finalized strategic plan was reviewed, and a new set of metrics was introduced and discussed. Initial metrics were developed for each goal. Each major area on campus then gave an overview of its planning process. It was decided that the Strategic Planning Council would meet on a quarterly basis to review progress of plan implementation and to discuss any changes in priorities based on emerging requirements or changes in the institutional resource base. Following the adoption of an institution-wide plan, each School reviewed their plans to ensure alignment with the overall plan. This process will continue throughout the campus organization structure to assure alignment at all levels. [CFR 1.2, 4.2]

On a more macro level, the Strategic Planning Council provides quarterly oversight of the institutional strategic plan, accomplishments, barriers to progress, reviews of emerging requirements, changes in contextual conditions and resource baselines, etc. Adjustments to resource planning and allocation models are made accordingly, and will be reported to the campus through an annual report mechanism. [CFR 4.1]

Important by-products of the WASC self-study and the strategic planning processes were 1) heightened participation and communication among internal and external stakeholders, and 2) greater transparency in decision-making processes. The two institution-wide efforts informed one another and provided an over-arching framework for guiding campus plans and priorities.

Institutional self-study about strategic planning reflected upon two important research questions:

  • To what extent are the appropriate stakeholders involved in strategic planning?
  • Are resources properly allocated to achieve the NPS vision?

The self-study process underscores the need for a campus-wide systematic review process to ensure balance between the competing demands of academic excellence and defense relevance, and the budget allocation and assessment priorities within Schools and departments. The Strategic Planning Council has been charged with the responsibility for ensuring ongoing monitoring and oversight of those processes. [CFR 4.1, 4.2]

Communication and Alignment

NPS is attentive to responsible stewardship of its human, physical, fiscal, and intellectual resources. NPS is committed to operational excellence, which encompasses the people, tools, systems, resources, decision-making and shared governance structures of the institution. Achieving its mission and supporting relevant national, security-related, graduate education for military officers is made possible by our excellent faculty and staff, systematic planning and alignment, and investments in educational resources and technology, fiscal responsibility, and participatory and transparent decision-making processes. [CFR 1.2, 3.5, 3.6]

Critical to these processes was the implementation of a new communication strategy to encourage collaboration and alignment across the Schools in a comprehensive decision-making process to achieve the institutional goals and the academic mission of NPS. A new monthly campus newspaper,Update NPS, has been published since September 2007. (15) Distributed across campus, the newspaper provides a regular venue for disseminating strategic planning updates, campus news items and pertinent topics of interest to the campus community. The NPS website is undergoing transformation, including adding an institution-wide calendar, to provide a more effective online communications vehicle. In addition, the Office of Institutional Advancement provides a daily "NPS in the News" update, reporting on the various ways in which NPS has been featured in local and national media. (48) Previously published on an informal schedule, the NPS magazine, In Review, has been institutionalized as a quarterly publication. (16) NPS is finalizing a formal Communications Plan that will be implemented to give further institutional attention to university communications.

In past practice, budget requests were not strongly linked to the strategic plan and were handled in an inconsistent fashion. In FY2008, budget proposals were requested of all major areas. Academic Planning then compiled and reviewed budget proposals and returned a draft budget to each area. The Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and the Director of Academic Planning met with each Dean and administrative unit head to discuss how the draft budget allocation and the requests were tied to the strategic plan. Additionally, the shift from NPS's old faculty budget model to the new nine-month model will be the basis for School budgets beginning with FY 2009. This new budget model provides funding support in alignment with strategic goals, due to its basis on workload and guaranteed support for nine months of faculty salary. [CFR 3.5, 3.6]

Theme 2: Integrating a Campus-Wide Program of Improvement

The four primary goals in Vision for a New Century, upon which NPS will focus its primary efforts are:

  • to sustain continuous improvement in the quality and relevance of NPS education and research programs
  • extend NPS educational opportunities to the total force and our global partners
  • broaden research in the areas of national security
  • streamline and optimize business practices and procedures.

These goals reflect NPS's commitment to integrating a campus-wide program of continuous improvement. Because three goals relate directly to the academic enterprise, specific processes that support the NPS academic system "” Program Review, Assessment, and Faculty Development "” will be examined.

Program Review

NPS has a number of related systems through which it continuously reviews its academic programs. Central to how NPS operates is the long-standing Curriculum Review process, which focuses on the individual curricular programs of study offered at the university. NPS has additionally established an Academic Program Review process, which focuses on the academic departments within the university. In addition, most recently, NPS is institutionalizing a more systematic New Program Review process, which focuses on new academic degree, curricular or certificate programs that may be proposed for adoption. Though each review process is concerned with the quality, relevance and capacity of our academic programs, each also has its own emphasis, suggested by these central questions:

  • Curriculum Review (CR): Are NPS curricula of high academic quality and aligned with the mission of NPS and the needs of its sponsors?
  • Academic Program Review (APR): Are the academic programs (education and research) offered in NPS Schools and departments current, relevant and of high quality, as assessed by peers in the academic community?
  • New Program Review (NPR): Do proposed new programs meet NPS academic standards and is the NPS academic support and resource infrastructure appropriate to ensure their quality and success?

Curriculum Review

Some aspects of NPS academic systems are well established, while others are evolving through the stages from initiation to implementation. Well established is the Curriculum Review process, central to the academic enterprise, which examines the academic quality of NPS educational programs, and how well they align with the NPS mission and the needs of NPS sponsors. Each curriculum (26) at NPS serves a specific educational function that has been identified by a sponsor within the external defense community. Included in the Curriculum Review process are the Educational Skills Requirements (ESRs), which define a particular set of skills that graduates of NPS should possess to function effectively as a professional in a given area of specialization. (49) Curriculum sponsors collaborate with faculty within the relevant academic area at NPS to develop ESRs. [CFR 4.4, 4.7, 4.8]

Because each curriculum at NPS has an external sponsor, the unique positions of Academic Associate and Program Officer "” positions critical to the Curriculum Review process "” were created.

Academic Associates. Once a curriculum is established, a part-time academic associate, a faculty member recommended by a School's Dean, is appointed by the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. (50) The Academic Associate assumes the primary responsibility for managing the curriculum by developing, maintaining, and updating the curricular program to accommodate the needs and academic requirements of NPS, the Department of Navy and the Department of Defense. The Academic Associate maintains a close relationship with the curriculum sponsor to ensure Navy requirements are linked to the academic ESRs. The Associate works with specialty sponsors and consultants to define pertinent needs, including professional objectives, to delineate projected utilization of program graduates, and consults with department Chairs and faculty to propose useful courses and curricula. These plans and projections consider the impact of developing technology, evolving bodies of knowledge (i.e., other graduate programs related to those under their purview), and the changing mission of the Navy and other military services.

Program Officers. The Program Officer, an active duty military officer typically at the rank of Lt. Colonel or Commander, who holds a military faculty appointment within a specific School or department, has administrative responsibilities for a set of curricula, including student oversight and the Curriculum Review process. The Program Officer also acts as a liaison between program sponsors and Academic Associates in overseeing the content of a School's curricula. (51)

Academic Associate/Program Officer Oversight. Although the Academic Associate and Program Officer operate as a team, the former oversees the academic quality and integrity of the curriculum while the latter represents the sponsor's interest in the content of the curriculum. Each Academic Associate/Program Officer team maintains ongoing contact with the students, faculty, sponsors and alumni of their curriculum. Shared practices may include academic advising, evaluation meetings, exit interviews, review of course evaluation data, hosting campus visits and conducting biennial and informal curriculum reviews with sponsors, maintaining contact with NPS alumni, supervising course coordinators, and reviewing course outlines with faculty.

Curriculum Review Process. Every two years, the content of each curriculum at NPS is assessed and, if necessary, revised, following the sponsor's formal Curriculum Review, which is conducted jointly by NPS and the sponsor. (52) During this process, the sponsor validates current ESRs and proposes new ones, validates joint stakeholder requirements; reviews degree requirements that may be independent of the ESRs, conducts an assessment of the design and execution of the curriculum, interviews students, and examines a department's foundation "” including faculty, resources, and scope of research "” for ensuring delivery of a mission-related, high-quality program.

Leading up to the sponsor's formal Curriculum Review, NPS initiates the following sequence of steps:

  • The Academic Associate begins coordinating with sponsors and stakeholders on issues related to the curricular review, and collecting required internal data such as exit interviews, survey results, and course content for analysis.
  • An external review may be conducted by the curriculum sponsor who identifies manpower, numbers of personnel needed, and the mission-related requirements for NPS students within specific areas.
  • The Academic Associate conducts a curriculum self-study, identifying a set of curriculum issues to be discussed with the program sponsor that will become part of the agenda for the formal Curriculum Review. The department conducts a review to assess the curriculum's quality and relevancy to the sponsor's needs.
  • The Academic Associate consults with the sponsors on the status of the review, gathers a set of expected issues, and drafts an action plan. The Academic Associate reviews and formalizes the issues and the proposed presentation to the sponsor along with the NPS President, Provost, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, and the Director of Programs.

During the formal Curriculum Review process, items for action are identified and drafted for implementation. (52)

Academic Program Review

Under the Academic Program Review (APR) guidelines, each academic department conducts a review approximately every six years. (53) Those departments that are reviewed by external accreditors (Mechanical, Electrical and Astronautical Engineering by ABET, Business and Public Policy by AACSB and NASPAA), are considered to fulfill their program review process through their programmatic accreditation. (40, 41, 42) [CFR 4.4, 4.7]

The purpose of a program review is to foster academic excellence, to improve quality of every department, and to provide guidance for administrative decisions in support of continual improvement. The review focuses on the following areas:


The overall quality and direction of the research, scholarship, and creative activity of the faculty, in comparison with departments at other nationally ranked research universities.

Graduate Programs

The overall quality and direction of the department's graduate programs, including curriculum, teaching, research, laboratories, and service activities. Priorities for continual improvement are of prime concern.

Capacity and Capability

The adequacy of the administrative and support functions as well as resource allocations.

Strategic Direction

The progress the department has made over the previous six years, together with goals and implementation outlined in its strategic plan for the subsequent six years.

In 2006, a set of guidelines for the review process were established. During 2007, a department was chosen as a pilot to undergo and evaluate those guidelines. The subsequent review of the pilot resulted in an improved and formalized set of Academic Program Review guidelines that include [CFR4.4]:

  1. Self-study. The unit under review prepares a self-study comprising a narrative description of the department's scholarly and creative direction and degree program, along with specified data on curricula, programs, faculty, students, administration, and resources.
  2. Departmental Strategic Plan. Each unit drafts a strategic plan describing future directions for the subsequent six-year period. The plan should reflect a consensus view of the department faculty and document the department's strengths, shortcomings, and perceived opportunities for growth or improvement.
  3. External Review and Campus Visit. The external review board consists of at least three distinguished scholars or experts in the relevant field(s) of study, at least two of who are not closely affiliated with NPS. A standard charge to the board requests the board to examine scholarship, education, faculty, support and resource matters. External reviewers are provided with the self-study and all relevant data.
  4. Review Board Report and Follow-up Activities. Within a month following the campus visit, the external reviewers submit a written report with an evaluation and recommendations for the unit. This report is presented to the department and the Dean of the School with identification of action items. The department submits a follow-up report to the Dean one year later.

New Program Review

NPS's mission includes increasing the effectiveness of the Armed Services, a task that requires maintaining relevance to the current military and defense environment. The Schools and departments, administrators and faculty, therefore, are encouraged to create and develop new programs that respond to opportunities to support that mission. Leadership and initiative for new academic programs at NPS may be top-down or bottom-up and may be initiated from three general directions: 1) NPS leadership (President, Provost, Deans); 2) faculty initiating programs following from advances in their academic disciplines; 3) sponsors from Navy and military commands identifying graduate education needs within the defense community. [CFR4.4, 4.7, 4.8]

Once a possible new program is identified, it must undergo a review that covers these factors and answers the following questions:

  • Academic: Does a proposed new program meet NPS academic standards?
  • Programmatic: Is a proposed new program consistent with NPS mission and strategy?
  • Support: What academic support requirements are generated as a result of potential approval of a new program?
  • Resources: What are the financial, staff and faculty resource implications of a proposed new program?

The first step in new program review occurs at the department level. NPS departments have a subgroup of faculty, often called a Curriculum Committee, which has responsibility for oversight of existing curricula and review of proposed new ones. (54) While the exact process varies within departments, the following factors must all be considered:

  • Customer Need. The program meets a well-defined stakeholder need and a student population has been identified.
  • Core Expertise. The program should be an extension of, and related to, the department's vision and core mission.
  • Faculty Capability. The faculty should have the capability (both expertise and capacity) to deliver the program.
  • Financial Viability. The program pricing is expected to, at a minimum, break even on all costs (direct and indirect).
  • Academic Support. The department must clearly identify support requirements coming from outside the department and/or School.

As new degree or education programs reach the proposal stage, circulation of the program proposal among academic support elements takes place to provide visibility and communication concerning program support requirements that may arise. During this review period, the need for additional resources of any type is brought forward and possible solutions are identified. Major support elements involved include:

  • Academic Administration (Registrar, Admissions, Scheduling)
  • Dean of Students (Student Support)
  • Director of Programs
  • Accreditation Liaison Officer
  • Information Technology
  • Educational Technology
  • Office of Distance Learning
  • Library
  • Academic Planning
  • Comptroller

Following the completion of the review at the department level, all proposed new programs are then reviewed by the relevant Department Chair and School Dean. In addition to the academic merit of a proposed program, Chairs and Deans are particularly charged with consideration of programmatic orientation and program resource requirements. [CFR 4.4]

The final stage in the review and acceptance of a new program is by the NPS Academic Council. The purpose of the Academic Council is to establish, monitor, review, certify, and advise on policies and procedures that will ensure high and consistent academic standards of graduate education throughout the Naval Postgraduate School It carries out this responsibility by approving new degree and academic certificate programs and major alterations to existing degree and academic certificate programs. The Council is NPS's final authority concerning the academic merits of proposed programs and its acceptance establishes proposed programs as approved offerings. [CFR 4.4, 4.7, 4.8]

The appendices to this Capacity and Preparatory Review contain three documents; together, they provide deeper insights into aspects of NPS's new program review process.

  • The NPS Academic Council Policy Manual, explaining the full workings of the Academic Council. (55)
  • An example of a proposed new program document, providing an illustration of a specific program proposal currently under review. (56)
  • A draft New Program Guidelines Instruction. This introduces a possible evolution of NPS's new program review process to incorporate consideration of programs proposed by NPS's Provost Council. (57)


Information is a key element of any program assessment. Since the submission of the proposal, NPS has worked to increase the number and quality of the assessment instruments. Additionally, NPS is striving to improve the distribution and dissemination of information coming from these instruments and to create a complete system for evaluation and feedback.

NPS programs and curricula have various stakeholders, including students, alumni, faculty, program sponsors, and the broader defense and academic communities. NPS's program of assessment consists, in part, of systems designed to collect feedback from program stakeholders. To assess the institution's performance and the accomplishment of its educational mission, NPS relies on a number of procedures, both formal and informal, to obtain feedback from each of these stakeholder groups. Particular attention is paid to immediate communication with students for an assessment of their individual educational experiences. [CFR 4.8]

Formal systems, including such items as surveys and questionnaires, are routinely administered, to current students, as well as alumni. (27, 28, 29,58) Informal systems include the network of contacts that exist between faculty and former students, military officers, and executives within the larger defense community. [CFR 4.5]

University-Wide Assessment Instruments

  • Student Opinion Forms (SOFs): An evaluation completed by all students, it provides quantitative and qualitative course and instructor evaluation. It is used by instructors to revise and improve courses. It is used by academic departments to evaluate faculty instructional performance and course success. SOFs are the university's principal systematic method of assessing instruction for individual courses. (59)
  • Graduating Student Survey: All students in their graduating term are requested to fill out a survey asking about their experiences and covering preparation, academics, faculty, facilities and more. The survey frames questions around the WASC Criteria for Review. Data summaries broken out at the School level are provided to Deans each term, plus an annual report. (27)
  • Alumni Survey: While NPS receives a substantial amount of feedback on its programs from the sponsors who eventually employ our graduates, only recently has input been requested directly from alumni. The survey also frames questions around the WASC Criteria for Review. In 2008, the first alumni survey was distributed to students who had graduated two, five and ten years ago. Schools were able to insert questions specific to their mission. (58)
  • New Student and Mid-Term Student Surveys: In cooperation with the NPS Student Council, the Office of Institutional Research worked together with a student survey class to develop two new instruments. Both were created using the WASC Criteria for Review and sought to acquire similar data across the entire student experience. The contribution of students to this process made the surveys particularly relevant. These surveys will go into permanent, quarterly administration in the 2009 academic year. (28, 29)

Department Practices

All departments and curricula employ practices for obtaining feedback on students' experiences in their academic programs. All departments collect information from students to assess similar aspects of their programs, focusing on: 1) the quality and effectiveness of instruction, 2) the relevance and usefulness of course and curriculum content, and 3) the challenge and learning achieved. Although specific practices, instruments and processes differ across the NPS Schools and departments, all rely on similar approaches. Three common approaches include:

  • Program or Curriculum Surveys:
  • Formal questionnaires collecting assessments of program, courses, and instruction. Such surveys may include either quantitative information, such as rating of program elements, or qualitative responses to open-ended questions. Questionnaires may be administered during students' programs, although more typically, they are done at graduation. (60)
  • Student Interviews and Group Meetings: Personal interviews or focus-group discussions with students are typical across most NPS departments. Feedback meetings with student cohorts may be held as frequently as each quarter, although periodic sessions are a more common practice. Exit interviews held with students at the end of programs are also common.
  • Ad Hoc Student Input: In some respects, one of the most effective student feedback "systems" at NPS is simply the cultural norms that exist between students and faculty. All NPS education is at the graduate level. All NPS students are adult professionals, almost universally with several years of significant, responsible career experience. All understand that their education is NPS's core mission. All students are assigned to Academic Associates and Program Officers who act as their advisors, and have acknowledged responsibility for the students' curriculum and education. These circumstances create a culture in which student communication with faculty and advisors concerning their academic experience is expected and encouraged. Often the unsystematic, ad hoc feedback from students promoted by this culture provides the most useful insights concerning the effectiveness of the academic programs.

Towards Enhanced Educational Effectiveness

The NPS Theme Two calls for integrating a campus-wide program of improvement, directed centrally toward the enhancement of educational effectiveness at the university. This challenge has brought attention to the wide range of academic systems, processes and practices "” both current and potential "” that are within the control of NPS to improve the educational programs. [CFR 1.2, 4.7, 4.8]

NPS has initiated a number of steps directed toward advancing and coordinating academic assessment at the university.

The LATF provided an initial picture of the range, variety and scope of NPS's assessment practices. (8)

Learning Assessments Task Force. As an initial step, a Learning Assessments Task Force (LATF) was established in March 2007 to provide an initial review of academic assessment practices across the university. In November 2007, the LATF reported on four broad questions with concerning our educational processes:

  • How do we know we are teaching the right material?
  • How do we know we are teaching it well?
  • How do we know our students are learning it?
  • Are our feedback mechanisms adequate and do they work?

Ad Hoc Educational Effectiveness Group. In February 2008, NPS assembled an Educational Effectiveness group to develop the university's approach to enhancing its educational assessment systems further. The group identified additional steps for the university, with the first step being a more comprehensive inventory of NPS's current academic assessment systems and practices. An effort related to this followed with an Academic Policies Survey conducted in May 2008. Survey findings document academic practices across the NPS Schools and departments related to faculty policies, program review and learning assessment. (14)

Broad findings following from the efforts of the LATF, the EE Group and the Academic Policies survey would characterize NPS's academic assessments program as follows:

  • Breadth: Widespread use of assessment techniques and practices reaches across all Schools and academic departments in the university.
  • Variety: There is similarity across the Schools and academic departments in the sources of assessment information (from students, alumni, program sponsors, employers, faculty), but wide variety in individual assessment practices (in the breadth and depth of the effort, the processes and instruments employed, and the utilization of assessment information).
  • Indirect Measures: With respect to student learning assessment, current practices (with some notable exceptions) rely heavily on indirect rather than direct measures of learning outcomes.
  • Excellence: There are strong areas of excellence in assessment, most notably in those departments in the university subject to discipline-specific accreditation (ABET, AACSB, NASPAA). (40, 41, 42)
  • Distributed: While there is widespread practice of assessment across the university, many aspects of the assessment practices are distributed and idiosyncratic, rather than more centrally coordinated and integrated.
  • Follow-up: Follow-on improvement activities that are to result from assessing educational effectiveness tend to be unsystematic and not well documented.

Initiatives for Academic Year 2009: Benchmark Projects. Starting with an understanding of the existing foundation of assessment processes at NPS, the university has initiated a program, titled "Benchmark Projects" for the coming academic year. Since a wide variety of assessment practices have developed at NPS "” motivated by, and tailored to, the needs of the separate Schools and departments "” the Benchmark Projects will attempt to build on the particular strengths of the individual Schools. (61) The approach NPS has adopted is one of "centralized responsibility to assure that effective, decentralized assessment practices occur." Benchmark Projects are to be conducted as a joint effort of NPS Academic Affairs with each of the NPS graduate Schools (or departments).

University objectives of the Benchmark Projects include:

  • Extension of assessment best practices more widely across campus
  • Progress toward additional direct assessments of student learning
  • Systematize feedback and improvement activities from assessment evidence

Each School will be able to identify its particular strengths and weaknesses with respect to assessment practices and educational improvement feedback processes, and design an effort to advance. Each School will be able to identify where and how it most wishes to move forward with its assessment activities, to its greatest benefit.

Faculty Development

The NPS WASC proposal stated that the university would determine how faculty development efforts were preparing our faculty for current and future learning environments, and that an enhanced program of faculty development would result. This attention to faculty development remains a focus of NPS, but the development of NPS's strategic plan and the institutional priorities stated by NPS leadership now reframe faculty development within a larger context. The NPS vision calls for an enhanced research orientation for the university and faculty, and support of the faculty to be successful in NPS's unique defense/security academic domain. Moving further toward this vision requires NPS to be concerned with all aspects of faculty life, including faculty recruitment, faculty development and faculty retention. [CFR 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4]

Faculty Recruiting and Retention Initiatives

During 2008, the NPS President set faculty recruiting and retention as one of NPS's highest priorities. To provide sharper focus on faculty recruiting and retention, several programs were initiated:

  • Distinguished Professors: NPS has initiated a retention bonus plan to incentivize, reward and retain faculty who achieve Distinguished Professor rank.
  • Faculty Recruiting and Retention Fund: With resources provided by the NPS Foundation, NPS has initiated an annual fund devoted to supporting faculty recruiting and retention effort in the Schools and academic departments. Presently a pilot program, there are plans for growth as positive effects from support efforts are realized.
  • Assistant Professors Research Support: As mentioned earlier, NPS has long had a Research Initiation Program (RIP) providing support for a two-year period to newly hired faculty to assist them in developing research programs. However, junior faculty, untenured assistant professors in particular, are at increased risk of departing NPS following the end of their period of RIP support. Starting in 2008, NPS instituted a program of continued support, in the form of funding for research time, for assistant professors during their years following RIP and leading up to tenure.

Faculty Workload Model

Another significant initiative during 2008 was a major re-thinking of the workload model for all tenured/tenure-track (TT) faculty at NPS. As used here, the term Faculty Workload Model really refers to two inter-related issues: Faculty Funding and Faculty Activities. Both parts of the Faculty Workload Model issue raise fundamental questions associated with the faculty's professional life at NPS.

  • Faculty Funding: How will NPS resource the Schools and departments to provide for faculty accomplishing their academic mission? What mechanisms will be used to determine the required level of funding necessary for faculty activities within the Schools/Departments?
  • Faculty Activities: What level of workload is expected of TT faculty during an academic year? What is the range of activities expected to be accomplished by TT faculty during an academic year?

The issue of the appropriate Faculty Workload Model for TT faculty has a long history at NPS. A significant event was a report from an ad hoc Faculty Workload Committee in 2002. (62) The report documented that the typical teaching load for NPS faculty, per academic year of funding provided by the university, was significantly higher than at comparable universities. The report additionally noted that the NPS funding model for Schools and departments placed heavy emphasis on the volume of instructional activities.

Because funding was seen as being tied to instruction activities, the TT faculty tended to face a choice between two alternatives: accept heavy teaching loads in order to be funded by the institution for a full academic year, or seek external reimbursable funding (ideally for research activities) to reduce the teaching load required. This dynamic resulted in some unfortunate consequences: 1) academic units had incentives to increase instructional activities, perhaps unnecessarily, in an attempt to secure additional funding from the university, 2) TT faculty would carry heavier teaching loads than desirable at a research university, 3) faculty would become excessively concerned with the manner and source by which they would fund their academic year, 4) faculty would see instruction as the principal activity the university funds them to accomplish, thus dis-incentivizing participation in other academic activities.

Both the NPS vision as a research university and the President's focus on faculty recruiting and retention have called for a reconsideration of the current faculty workload model at NPS. Academic Year 2008 brought efforts and plans to transition to a new model starting AY2009. This initiative is called the Nine Month Model (9MM). (63) The name itself describes aspects of the plan:

  • Faculty Funding: The university will provide resources to Schools and departments sufficient for all TT faculty to be funded for a nine-month academic year, with TT faculty, on average, expected to carry a four-course teaching load
  • Faculty Activities: The typical TT faculty will be expected to carry a four-course teaching load during an academic year and, in addition, engage in the range of activities common to research universities, including advising, projects, administration, and, most importantly, scholarship.

The goal is to have all tenure-track faculty members on a nine-month compensation model, putting NPS faculty on a funding and workload basis similar to other major research universities. Since NPS has many non-tenure-track faculty who are significant and integral contributors to the accomplishment of the institution's mission, the 9MM addresses only part of the faculty workload issue. NPS recognizes full implementation will occur over a period of years, with AY2009 as a period of transition. (63)

Faculty Development Programs

Developing and retaining high-quality faculty is central to the NPS mission. While coming to NPS with expertise in many defense-related areas, many new faculty members also come with limited understanding of military and government structures and functions, a limited exposure to the various forms and methods of pedagogy, and limited experience in the effective use of technology to enable instruction.

To support its mission and to ensure continuous improvement and educational effectiveness, NPS recognized the role of ongoing professional development by staffing a full-time position for faculty development late in 2006. Reporting to the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, this position is responsible for developing a variety of programs that support the effectiveness of teaching, learning, and assessment at the Naval Postgraduate School. [CFR 3.2, 3.4]

Faculty development programs provide quality resources and support services for NPS and DoD faculty to improve their teaching in face-to-face, online, and blended environments. Key areas of concentration include:

  • Instructional Practices Courses: Short courses that introduce best instructional practices and apply theories of adult learning in course development and the delivery and assessment of DL and blended programs. (64)
  • Education Seminars: An interactive, discussion-based seminar series designed around topics of educational effectiveness. (65)
  • Instructional Technology Consultation: One-to-one assistance in the selection and effective use of media and instructional technologies.
  • Course Development Support: Consultative support for course planning/development and evaluation.
  • Faculty Orientation: Planning and facilitating new faculty orientation programs. (66)
  • Educational Effectiveness Programs: Planning, coordination and resourcing of projects that validate student learning, program effectiveness, and are aligned with the educational mission of NPS.

Theme 3: Supporting an evolving academic enterprise

As outlined in the Section III, NPS has undergone many significant changes over the past decade, both in terms of structure and process. The institution has expanded "” from a relatively small number of departments and research programs to an academic organization similar to what is seen at other universities "” with the establishment of four academic Schools and four major multidisciplinary research institutes. The number of students has increased, and the externally funded research program has doubled in size.

The rate of change has been substantial, and the support services have worked hard to sustain the expanding academic mission. A number of efforts have been undertaken to assess administrative support services, and provide feedback and guidance about meeting institutional requirements, customer satisfaction, staffing levels, priority setting, and generally serving the academic mission.

Assessment of Academic Priorities and Organizational Structure

In early 2006, Provost Ferrari appointed a group of faculty, directors and administrative officers from the Schools and key administrative areas to the Ad Hoc Committee on Business Practices. (72) This committee focused on one overarching proposition: "The need to rededicate the efforts of our institution in support of our core mission of graduate education and research." This was elaborated with 15 specific action recommendations. (73) The Provost immediately endorsed the Committee's work and established the Business Practices Implementation Task Force, which worked through 2007, completing its initial tasking by beginning major new improvements and providing additional recommendations for sustaining those improvements with a number of university-wide initiatives: (74, 75) [CFR 3.8, 3.10]

  • Web Initiative. Many of the business practice improvements required a revamping of the institutional website, and a major university-wide initiative is now >well under way. This effort will clarify the functions of the external and internal websites, increase information flow to the campus and external communities and provide a means to highlight the accomplishments of faculty, staff and students. (76)
  • Business Practices. The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and Process Mapping group consisted of staff representatives from across campus. The Committee charge was to establish SOPs, process maps and flow charts for all NPS administrative processes. These efforts resulted in internal web pages that improve information sharing, automate many business-related tasks, and provide more accessible training opportunities, etc. (77, 78)
  • Financial Systems. Many of the business practice improvements required an updating of NPS financial systems. A much-improved online reporting system was deployed to assist NPS Principal Investigators in managing sponsored funding. An initiative is underway to adopt Kuali, an open source financial system, developed by research universities for their particular needs. (79) [CFR 3.5]
  • Staff Development. A Staff Development Advisory Committee was established and provided its first series of recommendations earlier this year. (36) As a result, the development of a training series is underway, with plans for more opportunities in the future. The Committee continues its work as a standing committee of the administration.

Ongoing Mechanisms for Improvement

As NPS works to continually review, renew and improve itself, a number of continuous assessment tools are in place [CFR 3.5, 3.6, 3.8, 3.10, 4.3,4.4]

  • The Strategic Planning Council is charged with the review of strategic plan metrics, individual department strategic plans, benchmarking information, selected survey data, and resource allocations plans.
  • Department-level strategic plans and metrics are now being summarized for presentation to the Strategic Planning Council.
  • Major administrative areas have been asked to include performance metrics in their individual department-level strategic plans.
  • Benchmarking information from other institutions was requested for effectiveness and efficiency comparisons. A peer analysis study has been commissioned to provide benchmarking information for key performance indicators.
  • The Equal Opportunity Office periodically conducts campus climate surveys that include questions about perceived fairness of treatment of individuals on campus, as well as service quality and delivery. (80)
  • A series of surveys (Graduating Student, New Student and Mid-Term Student) collect student perception and satisfaction data. (27, 28, 29)
  • Annual alumni surveys query former students about their experience at NPS, including questions about quality of services at NPS as well as academic and career impact questions. (58)
  • Administrative area external reviews are now being undertaken for major administrative areas.

In summary, the institution has undertaken two levels of assessment and continuous improvement initiatives: macro and departmental level planning. The macro-level planning is embodied in the university-wide plan, Vision for a New Century, and is reviewed on a quarterly basis by the Strategic Planning Council and annually by the NPS Board of Advisors. Departmental level plans clearly have more unit-based goals and objectives, but all are asked to demonstrate alignment with the larger university plan.

All planning shares a similar framework of requiring benchmarking information, customer satisfaction data, relevant peer comparisons, and ways in which assessment information is used for updating and ongoing planning efforts.