As required through the passage of House Bill 2504 and subsequent rules by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas State University submits the following report to document compliance with all provisions of the legislation and rules related to “Public Access to Course Information.”
The university’s HB 2054 Web site is located at http://hb2504.txstate.edu/
and is accessible by one link from the university’s home page. The Web site provides useful information and demonstrates the university's commitment to accountability, transparency and open communication with students, parents, legislators, the public, and all stakeholders. On this site, users easily find:
1. For each undergraduate classroom course offered for credit by the institution, a syllabus and a curriculum vita for the instructor of record;
2. For each academic department, a departmental budget report;
3. For work-study employment opportunities, a link to current job openings; and
4. In early 2011, summarized end-of-course student evaluations of faculty for each undergraduate classroom course.
Online Syllabus Requirement
Instructors of record are responsible for developing course syllabi. The university requires consistent elements in each syllabus, which mirrors the legislatively mandated information, including a brief description of each major course requirement, including each major assignment and examination, learning objectives, required/recommended reading, and a general description of the subject matter of each lecture or discussion. Syllabi are uploaded to the HB 2504 Web site through a simple file transfer protocol (FTP) process, typically managed by faculty members or administrative assistants. Syllabi must be uploaded by the seventh class day in a given semester. Public access is available at http://hb2504.txstate.edu/browseinstructors.html
by clicking on the instructor’s last name (for example, click R for Professor Rodriguez’s course) or department/course prefix associated with the instructor’s course (for example, click MATH for Department of Mathematics). Course syllabi may also be accessed through http://hb2504.txstate.edu/browsecourses.html
by clicking the appropriate prefix for the course or department of interest (for example, click ENG for English courses). The course syllabus for each undergraduate classroom course is posted each semester by the seventh class day of the term.
End-of-Course Evaluations Requirement
In addition to the evaluation measures already in place in departments and colleges, Texas State created a new end-of-course student evaluation system for all undergraduate classroom courses. Using a broad-based approach, a committee led by the Faculty Senate developed common end-of-course student evaluation items for all undergraduate courses. Following a review period that included two public forums, the committee finalized the following items for the Student Perceptions of Instruction (SPI) measure:
- The instructor communicated effectively.
- The course was organized effectively.
- The course goals were made clear.
- The instructor conducted class as scheduled.
- The instructor provided opportunity to learn.
Departments implement the SPI each semester in undergraduate classroom courses using a Scantron form provided by the university. Students in online courses receive an electronic version of the SPI. The university’s Testing, Research Support and Evaluation Center (TREC) manages the scanning and data analysis process. A pilot of the SPI was implemented in July 2010 to ensure data consistency and correct process weaknesses. University-wide implementation occurred at the end of fall 2010 term. Summary results of the SPI evaluations are made publicly available on Texas State’s HB 2504 Web site in mid-january 2011. As with other Web site elements, the results are easily searchable and accessible by instructor name and course number/title. Therefore, Texas State is ahead of the schedule presented for this legislative requirement.
Web Site Requirements
Texas State’s HB 2504 Web site has the following characteristics and features:
1. Accessible from the institution's Internet Web site home page by use of not more than three links;
2. Searchable by keywords and phrases;
3. Accessible to the public without requiring registration or use of a user name, a password, or another user identification;
4. Updated for each semester by the seventh class day of the term during which the undergraduate classroom course is offered; and
5. Retains information through the second anniversary of the date on which the institution initially posted the information.
Dr. Debbie Thorne, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs (AVPAA), is the institution’s administrator responsible for implementing provisions of HB 2504. The AVPAA is responsible for continuing oversight of the reporting system, ensuring participation and support, and submitting a compliance report not later than January 1 of each odd-numbered year, with the first report due January 1, 2011. Information on deadlines, plans for modifications, and other updates originate from the AVPAA and are communicated to deans, department chairs, and faculty. Inquiries regarding Texas State’s HB 2504 Web site and compliance plans may be sent to email@example.com
Cost and Usage Patterns
To meet this legislative requirement for the fall 2010 semester alone, Texas State faculty and staff uploaded nearly 4,000 unique documents to the HB 2504 Web site. In addition, staff developed software, hardware, databases, and other infrastructure to support the project. Despite the effort and cost, the Web site does not appear to generate significant traffic or interest. Details are below.
Initial implementation costs:
IT programming to develop databases and web pages - $20,000
Administrative time and oversight - $30,000
Faculty and staff time to manage and upload documents - $200,000
Prior development of curriculum vitae database for SACS - $150,000
IT programming support - $10,000/year
Administrative oversight and reporting - $15,000/year
Additional Scantron forms (to implement instructor evaluation) - $30,000/year
Overtime pay for increased scanning services - $2,500/year
Server hardware usage – $6,000/year
Faculty and staff time to manage and upload documents - $200,000/year
Between September 2, 2010 and December 9, 2010, Texas State’s HB 2504 Web site received a total of 5,025 visits. Of these visitors, approximately 46 percent were “new” to the site, indicating over 50 percent were repeat visitors. On average, users visited six pages and stayed on the site for just over four minutes. Peak usage occurred on September 2, 2010, the deadline for syllabi and vitae to be uploaded for the fall 2010 semester.