The University of California seeks to provide its students with a distinctive learning environment created by faculty who are actively engaged in both teaching and academic research. UC strives to ensure that all students have an opportunity to take small classes, seminars and lab sections, and that they have access to faculty and others active in research. The ultimate goal is for students to develop critical thinking, writing and research skills, along with an in-depth understanding of their specific fields of study.
At UC, individual academic departments and degree programs are responsible for defining learning objectives and for assessing students' progress in meeting them. These objectives and assessments are subject to scrutiny by external reviewers during program reviews conducted at set intervals, e.g., five years. In recent years, academic objectives and assessments have become a major focus of reviews conducted by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), as well as by many other professional accrediting and related bodies. Information about program learning objectives is available on departmental websites, and each campus posts materials related to accreditation.
Educating students and the public
The indicators on the following pages illuminate aspects of the undergraduate teaching and learning experience, including student access to ladder-rank faculty, small classes and opportunities to participate in research. Using survey data, the indicators summarize students' reflections on their undergraduate education, e.g., the extent to which they have developed mastery in their chosen fields and improved their critical thinking and other skills. This chapter also describes faculty workload, including the amount of teaching engaged in by faculty and the number of doctoral degrees produced. In addition, the chapter considers the educational opportunities that UC provides through its extension programs to hundreds of thousands of non-enrolled students, most of them in adult professional and continuing education.
Over the last decade, the University of California has undergone considerable and rapid changes in its size and shape, and has faced substantial reductions in the level and source of funds dedicated to instruction. These changes have led not only to increases in tuition, but also to growth in average class size, reductions in course availability and limitations on faculty hiring. Some campuses are rethinking curricular requirements and exploring new modes of instructional delivery, including online instruction and better use of summer sessions.
In 2012-13, UC campuses and extensions offered approximately 2,600 online courses totaling over 90,000 student enrollments. More than 250 of these online courses were offered for credit in UC undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Of the courses offered to undergraduates, nearly 100 courses were offered during summer sessions and 25 were offered during the academic year. Next year, that number will grow to approximately 60 online course offerings available to undergraduate students during the academic year.
UC recognizes that online education is only one of many learning opportunities available to UC students; therefore, its strategy utilizes technology to expand student access and to improve teaching and learning in all courses.
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