The University of Oklahoma

(Norman Campus)




To:                   Mike McInerney

                        Chair of OU Faculty Senate (Norman Campus)


From:               Kevin Grasse

                        Chair of Academic Programs Council


Date:                February 9, 2004


Subject:            Academic Programs Council endorsement of “Principles of Good Practice for Courses and Programs” document


Subject to the assumptions set forth below, the Academic Programs Council hereby endorses the guidelines for the development, delivery, and evaluation of courses and programs at the University of Oklahoma as formulated by the Provost’s University Wide Task Force in the Fall of 2002 in the document “Principles of Good Practice for Courses and Programs at the University of Oklahoma” (see Attachment A).  Our endorsement is contingent on the following overarching assumptions (the first two of which are present in the referenced Task-Force document):


·        Principles are applicable to all courses and programs.

·        Institution has the responsibility to review all courses and programs for quality.

·        Departmental policies remain consistent across all modes of delivery.


As stated in the Foreword of the Task-Force document, the original stimulus for the creation of the Task Force was the perceived need for standards for courses and programs delivered by on-line or other non-traditional methods of delivery.  The Academic Programs Council supports the view enunciated in the Task-Force document that criteria for the development, staffing, execution, and evaluation of courses and programs should be consistent across all modes of delivery, including traditional, on-line,  and synchronous or asynchronous distance learning.  Since the on-line (electronic) method of delivery is in an incipient stage of development, APC also views as a useful reference the Chapter Reference C, “Best Practices for Electronically Offered Degree and Certificate Programs” in the NCA’s Handbook of Accreditation (see Attachment B --  This document gives an in-depth discussion of the principles summarized in (and endorsed by) the Task-Force document, while emphasizing issues of specific relevance to on-line courses and programs. 


Attachment A: Principles of Good Practice for Courses and Programs at the University of Oklahoma, Provost’s University Wide Task Force (Craig Hofford, Chair), October 2002.


Attachment B: Addendum to the Handbook of Accreditation (2nd ed), Chapter Reference C, Best Practices for Electronically Offered Degree Programs, North Central Association for Colleges and Schools, March 2001.


cc:        Dr. Nancy Mergler, Senior Vice President and Provost

            Dr. Paul B. Bell, Vice Provost for Instruction




Attachment A

Principles of Good Practice for Courses and Programs at

The University of Oklahoma


Foreword: In the Summer of 2001, a university-wide task force was established by the Provost’s Office to create a document that reflected the guidelines that might form the foundation for the delivery of online courses and programs offered by The University of Oklahoma.  After much deliberation and discussion, that task force recognized the value in creating this document in such a manner that the guidelines applied to ALL courses and programs offered at the University (traditional classroom, synchronous and asynchronous distance learning, online, etc.).  Moreover, the document would serve as the reaffirmation of what are ‘good practices’ that lead to the creation and maintenance of a high quality educational experience for Oklahoma students and faculty alike.


These guidelines are meant to be a resource for individual faculty and departments proposing and/or refining courses and programs, as well as the various administrators, committees and councils who are charged with the review and approval of courses and programs.  The task force recommends that these guidelines be used by these entities throughout the development, review and approval process and that each entity create a strategy to evaluate adherence to these guidelines.  We strongly suggest that quality control and assurance be primarily the responsibility of the department offering the course or program.


As a note, these guidelines include all standards set by our accreditation organization, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.  In addition, they were developed with full consideration of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) and Southern Regional Educational Board (SREB) Principles.


Assumptions: These guidelines were developed with the following two assumptions:


·         Principles are applicable to all courses and programs.

·         Institution has the responsibility to review all courses and programs for quality.


Curriculum and Instruction: The following guidelines pertain specifically to curriculum and instruction’s role in assuring quality education:


·         Curriculum is coherent and complete.

·         Oversight and supervision is provided by qualified faculty.

·         Learning outcomes are appropriate to the rigor and breadth of the degree.

·         Academic standards are the same for all courses and programs in the degree, independent of delivery technology.

·         Curriculum/Instruction provides for timely student‑faculty as well as student‑ student interactions.

·         Student learning is consistent across courses and programs, independent of delivery technology.

·         Materials and resources used are current and appropriate to the curriculum.

·         Clear policies are in place regarding ownership of materials, faculty compensation, copyright issues and use of revenues derived from the creation and production of course/program products.


Institutional Context and Support:  The following guidelines pertain specifically to the institution’s role in assuring quality education:


     Role and Mission

·         Institutional review and approval processes ensure appropriateness of the technology (methods and delivery) to meet the educational objectives.


     Faculty Support

·         Faculty provided with support services specifically related to the delivery of all technology‑based teaching.

·         Faculty development for instruction is available.

·         Faculty have adequate equipment, software and communications capabilities for interaction with students, other faculty and the institution.

·         Teaching and scholarship related to all assigned courses/programs are considered in faculty evaluation.


     Resources for Learning

·         Appropriate learning resources are available to students.

·         Adequacy, costs and appropriate use of learning resources, including electronic, are evaluated periodically.

·         Students have access to and can effectively use library resources.

·         Laboratories, facilities and equipment are available as appropriate.


     Students and Student Services

·         Students have reasonable access to resources and services that support their learning.

·         Accepted/Enrolled students have adequate background to succeed.

·         Marketing materials (advertising, recruitment, admissions) accurately represent the courses/programs and services available.

·         Students are provided with clear, complete and timely information: curriculum, course and degree requirements, pre-requisite competencies and skills, equipment requirements, academic support services, financial aid, and cost and payment policies.

·         Adequate means for resolving student complaints are in place.


    Facilities and Finances

·         Institution possesses equipment and expertise required to support all delivery technologies.

·         Institutional planning, budget and policies reflect resources necessary  to be successful.

·         Institution is committed to ongoing support, financial and technical,  for faculty and students.


Evaluation and Assessment:  The following guidelines pertain specifically to evaluation and assessment’s role in assuring quality education:


·         Effectiveness (learning outcomes, retention, student satisfaction) is assessed periodically.

·         Student achievement is assessed and documented at the end of all courses and at the completion of all programs.

·         Curricular announcements and catalogs provide accurate and appropriate information.

·         Integrity of students’ work and credibility of degrees and credits is assured.


Online Course/Program Task Force:


Craig Hofford (Chair) - Director, CCE Health Promotion Programs; Associate Professor (Health & Sport Sciences)

Andrea Beesley – Program Development Specialist, CCE Independent Study

Paul B. Bell, Jr. – Dean, Arts & Sciences; Vice Provost for Instruction

Amy Bradshaw – Assistant Professor (Educational Psychology)

Doyle Cavins (deceased) – former Director, CCE Center for Independent Study & Distance Learning

Karen Jones Cozart – Information Technology Specialist, College of Arts & Sciences

Linda DeBrunner – Associate Professor (Electrical & Computer Engineering)

Connie Dillon – Director, Research Center for Continuing Professional & Higher Education; Associate Professor (Educational Leadership & Policy Studies)

Rosemary Hayes – Director, CCE C-IDEA; formerly Information Technology Specialist, College of Arts & Sciences

Bruce Mason – Associate Professor (Physics & Astronomy)

Susan Nash – Director, CCE Online Curriculum Development

Karen Rupp-Serrano – Reference Librarian, Bizzell Library

Bob Swisher – Academic Director, Information Technology Programs

Lee Williams – Vice President, Research; Dean, Graduate College