1. Why is it important to document guaranteed applied learning and research experiences at Wichita State University?
Applied learning and research are critical elements of Wichita State University’s strategic plan. This is articulated clearly in the vision—“Wichita State University is internationally recognized as the model for applied learning and research”—and in strategic goal 1—“Guarantee an applied learning or research experience for every student by each academic program.”
To ensure fulfillment of goal 1, it is necessary to confirm that each student meets a college, department, or program graduation requirement that an applied learning or research experience is met through satisfactory completion of designated courses or experiences that meet a set of defined criteria.
2. How was the proposal for the applied learning and research implementation process developed?
In 2015, the Strategic Planning Phase 2 Steering Committee, composed of faculty representation from every college, developed a definition and set of criteria for applied learning, as well as a process for documenting and measuring applied learning or research experiences at Wichita State University. The foundation for the definition and criteria for applied learning is the original strategic plan. The planning process from which the original strategic plan developed was a “bottom up” process, with representation and ideas from all areas of campus.
3. Who will track the information through Degree Works?
Once a program’s applied learning or research experience is approved, tracking will be accomplished through Advising. Students who graduate from a program with an Applied Learning or Research Experience as a graduation requirement will have this noted on their transcript.
4. Who is going to determine if a project is occupationally focused work?
Applied learning and research experiences will be approved through the University Curriculum Change process; however, it is up to each program to discuss, determine, and justify how the program will define and address the criterion for occupationally focused work.
5. Is this making things more complicated for faculty and students?
Wichita State University’s strategic plan was designed to create big audacious goals for the university. The implementation of applied learning and research may be a challenge or “stretch” goal for some programs. Nonetheless, the implementation of applied learning creates competitive advantages for both our students and the university. Our students graduate with know-how that extends classroom lessons through direct practical experience. A guaranteed applied learning experience differentiates WSU from many other universities and helps us recruit and retain students.
6. Why are there three planning horizons?
There was concern by faculty that a February 1, 2016, deadline for the applied learning experience implementation is too soon for some programs. It was decided that some programs need flexibility, as this implementation will be easy for some programs and not for others. The decision was to capture the “low-hanging fruit”—i.e., document current programs with an applied learning or research guarantee. The longer planning horizons offer departments and programs time for thought and reflection.
7. How will this information be used?
This information will be used for two purposes. First, students who graduate from a program with an applied learning or research experience as a graduation requirement will have this noted on their transcript. Second, the number of students graduating with an applied learning or research experience will be tracked on Wichita State University’s Strategic Planning Dashboard (wichita.edu/wsustrategy). It will replace the short-term measurement for Applied Learning being used currently.