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Committed to Excellence Report_December 2012_FINAL

Committed to Excellence Report_December 2012_FINAL

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Published by The Texas Exes

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Published by: The Texas Exes on Dec 06, 2012
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Committed to Excellence:
An Assessment of the Conditions and Outcomesof Undergraduate Educationat the University of Texas at Austinand at Texas A&M University
Michael K. McLendon, Ph.D.Professor of Higher Education Policy and LeadershipSouthern Methodist UniversityDecember 6, 2012
Supported by:The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Educationwww.TexasEducationExcellence.org
Preface and Acknowledgements
This report summarizes the findings of an independent study, conducted in late 2011 andin 2012, of the performance of the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) and of Texas A&MUniversity (Texas A&M) in the realm of undergraduate education.Clearly, no single study can address all of the issues in undergraduate education thatwarrant thoughtful discussion
nor is the report that follows an effort to do so. For example,because a number of reports published in 2010 and 2011 had already addressed the topics of instructional efficiency and faculty productivity at UT Austin and at Texas A&M, the presentstudy places its focus elsewhere.The availability
and the limitations
of data also helped establish the parameters forthe study. Much of the analysis examines the
performance of UT Austin and of TexasA&M, with a focus on how well the two universities perform as compared to their benchmark 
 peers and to the nation‟s other top public research universities on select indicators of the
conditions and outcomes of undergraduate education on the campuses. This particular focusnecessitated the use of performance indicators for which reliable, replicable data exist bothacross the institutions and over time. As a result, and as described in the report, the study made
extensive use of data from the U.S. Department of Education‟s Integrated Postsecondary
Education Data System (IPEDS).On many important dimensions, however, comparative data of such a nature do notpresently exist. There is indeed much about U.S. higher education, and about the conditions andthe performance of its colleges and universities, that only partially can be understood as a resultof present data limitations. This factor imposed several conditions on the study.On a number of pertinent questions, such as the quality and the innovativeness of theundergraduate curriculum, the study turned to other forms of information, including a closereview of institutional documents and a variety of reports by national professional associations.Consequently, this study relies on a range of data drawn from different sources. This is as itshould be; assessments of educational institutions
whether conducted externally or internally tothe institution
should strive to use multiple measures and data sources.The project was undertaken and completed during my tenure on the faculty of VanderbiltUnive
rsity‟s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. I appreciate the support
that I received from several graduate students at that institution. As lead analyst, Justin Shepherdprovided expert assistance in the organization and analysis of the IPEDS data that underpin theseries of institutional comparisons presented in Section Four of the report.
Likewise, Morrie Swerlick, Ashley Nichols, and Amanda Ochoa collected informationfound in various sections of the report. Patricia Whatley Stewart provided invaluable editorialassistance.Michael K. McLendon, Ph.D.Professor of Higher Education Policy and LeadershipSouthern Methodist University

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