Testing the Degree Qualifications Profile at Miami University

Miami University accreditation leaders held over 30 focus group sessions on the Degree Qualifications Profile with students, faculty from all associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs as well as Student Affairs staff and parents.

Participants were asked to sort DQP outcomes in the following ways:

  • Faculty were asked to sort them into four piles: (1) we promote an outcome highly similar to this one in the degree program; (2) we don’t promote it but it would be good if we did; (3) the outcome should be promoted in the context of liberal education courses; and (4) we don’t understand or don’t agree that this outcome should be promoted at all.
  • Parents and staff were asked to sort into four piles: (1) the outcome belongs in major; (2) the outcome belongs in liberal education; (3) the outcome belongs in co-curriculum; and (4) I don’t understand/don’t agree with the outcome.
  • Students were given the same categories as staff/parents, but asked to respond according to where (if at all) they had experienced the outcomes being promoted.  All groups were allowed to add comments or mark changes/questions on each of the items as they sorted them.

Two basic analytic strategies were employed for the sorting data.

  • In the first analysis, we noted whether each outcome received at least 50 percent endorsement from the members of at least 2/3 of the different constituencies.
  • In the second analysis, we divided the outcomes into top and bottom halves in terms of the percentages of votes they received from a given constituency and then noted whether a given outcome was in the top half for at least 2/3 of the constituencies.

Preliminary Findings

  • There was a consensus that the majority of outcomes should be conveyed by the major or degree program.
  • The outcomes that were prioritized in the top ten outcomes for the major were outcomes listed in the “Specialized Knowledge” area of learning.  Only one outcome from each of the other areas of learning was ranked in the top ten outcomes.
  • Outcomes involving creation of projects were included among the desirable outcomes for majors.
  • Outcomes relating to quantitative reasoning, information literacy as well as most of the integrative learning, applied learning and civic learning outcomes were perceived as belonging to the top ten outcomes for liberal education.
  • There was NO agreement among the constituencies about what outcomes would belong to the co-curriculum.

Below are the most common general reactions to the profile made by participants:

  • Most participants perceive a degree profile as useful in prompting us to think about what a particular degree might mean and how a Miami education may be unique. However, they also would not advocate for it to be used in a prescriptive fashion or as an assessment tool.
  • Faculty thought it would be helpful to have more information on the theoretical underpinning of the profile.
  • The wording of many of the outcomes (particularly at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels) is cumbersome and lengthy.
  • Faculty noted that the DQP had little emphasis on reflection, sociocultural diversity and intercultural understanding, history, and quantitative reasoning.  Staff and parents noted the absence of leadership and life skills.
  • Faculty indicated that they typically do not advance outcomes that call for students to make connections in two or more academic fields or that promote public engagement.  Students expressed interest in mastering these outcomes.