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Comprehensive Standards 3.4.1

The institution demonstrates that each educational program for which academic credit is awarded (a) is approved by the faculty and the administration, and (b) establishes and evaluates program and learning outcomes. (Educational Programs Standards for All Educational Programs) (Includes all on-campus, off-campus, and distance learning programs)



Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) is in compliance with this comprehensive standard. Each new program or each modification to existing programs are reviewed and approved by the College’s Curriculum Committee made up of faculty and administration representatives. The College also complies with the Curriculum Standards established by the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges for each curriculum program of study. The Curriculum Standard contains program and learning outcomes, as do the standardized course descriptions contained in the Common Course Library also established by the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges. Lead instructors and department chairs in each program also participate in the College’s strategic planning online and establish student learning outcome objectives each year. Program instructors are also assisted by advisory committees, comprised of occupational and industry experts, which evaluate programs against the needs of the community on an annual basis. Each program is also subjected to an extensive program review at a minimum of once every five years. This review also evaluates programs for relevance and considers learning outcomes. Finally, the success of many vocational or technical programs is measured by the passing rate of its graduates in certification and licensure examinations. Cape Fear Community College provides evidence of exceptional performance in this area.


At Cape Fear Community College, each educational program awarded academic credit is approved by the faculty and administration. Initially, new or changing employment opportunities within the College’s service area may act as the catalyst for the establishment of new programs. All new programs or modifications to existing programs are presented by the appropriate department chair and/or dean to the college’s Curriculum Committee for a determination of feasibility and impact upon other college programs. An example is the Curriculum Committee’s 2003 review and approval of an Associate in Fine Arts (AFA) degree with a drama pre-major (Curriculum Committee Minutes pg 17). All program starts and terminations are then presented to the Curriculum Committee of the CFCC Board of Trustees. This committee evaluates the recommendations brought by the college’s committee and, if approved, carries the item to the full Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees votes on the recommendations of the Curriculum Committee for the establishment and/or termination of programs. Again, an example is the Board’s 2004 approval of the AFA degree (May 27, 2004 Board Minutes pg 4). The program is then sent to the System Office for consideration by NCCCS Curriculum Review Committee and ultimately, for review and approval by the State Board of Community College. The System Office will then notify CFCC if the approval is granted. The Program may then be entered electronically for System Office final approval. This electronic evaluation process is for all new and modified programs. This process is to verify that each course, as well as the program in its entirety, meets the Curriculum Standard developed by a statewide committee of faculty, staff and other experts in the program’s discipline. CFCC programs of study and curriculum standards are attached (Curriculum Standards). Each curriculum standard for an academic program contains program outcomes. All courses taught in the North Carolina Community College System are part of the Common Course Library. Each course description in the CCL specifies a learning outcome for that course. As an example, the CCL description for business courses is attached (Business Courses).

Further, with regard to establishing outcomes, all colleges within the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) must follow a specified application process for the development of new programs (Curriculum Program Application Procedures). Program and learning outcomes are established as part of this process. An example is CFCC’s application to begin a new Medical Sonography program (Sonography Application), which lists job competencies as part of the application.

As far as outcomes evaluation is concerned, in 1995, Cape Fear Community College adopted a model for institutional effectiveness and outcomes assessment developed by Dr. James O. Nichols, often referred to as the “Nichols’ Model" (Institutional Effectiveness Model). In November 1995, Dr. Nichols visited CFCC and conducted a two-day workshop on campus for all faculty and staff on how to implement a planning and outcomes assessment process for its educational programs and administrative and educational support services. Beginning in planning year 1999-2000, CFCC moved its outcomes assessment planning process to an online system called Strategic Planning Online (SPOL). CFCC worked in partnership with Indian River Community College (IRCC) located in Fort Pierce, Florida, to develop the online system with CFCC serving as a beta test site in early development stages. Since inception of the system in 1999, Cape Fear has progressively modified the SPOL system to fit CFCC and has invested in the development of a third generation version to include a budget planning module. The third version is pending implementation.

Every academic program is considered a planning unit. Annually, every planning unit develops an outcomes assessment plan using the college’s online planning system. The program lead instructor, along with other faculty teaching in the program, select from three to five program outcomes to be assessed annually. Program outcomes are the skills, knowledge, behaviors and/or attitudes that graduates of the program are expected to have acquired. Assessment methods and criteria for measuring success are specified in each assessment plan and the assessment results and how these results are used for the improvement of the program are documented in the plan (Developing an Institutional Effectiveness (IE) Plan for an Academic Program), (Academic Program Assessment Plans in SPOL).

Program and learning outcomes for existing programs are evaluated in other ways as well. First, for each Vocational Technical program, a Technical Advisory Committee is established (Advisory Committee List). These committees, comprised of area occupational experts, employers and CFCC instructors and administrators, meet at least annually and review each program for relevance in the technical specialty. Committee responsibilities are specifically delineated in a brochure distributed to all members (Advisory Committee Information). Further, each Vocational Technical program and the College Transfer program are subject to an in-depth Program Review. The lead instructor of the program being reviewed will be an ad hoc member of his/her program review team. The reviewing team will have seven members from the Institutional Effectiveness (IE) Committee including the dean of arts and sciences, the dean of vocational technical education, the director of career and testing services, two instructional department chairs and two members at large. The institutional researcher will serve as an ex officio member. Cross-institutional membership of the review team ensures that the program review process is thorough and objective. The program review team examines strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for each program by looking at issues such as purpose, enrollment, graduation rates, student outcomes and assessments, staffing, curriculum relevancy, facility and equipment requirements and student survey results (Program Review Process for Vocational and Technical Programs), (Program Review Process for College Transfer Programs). Each program is reviewed at a minimum of once every five years (Program Review Schedule). Programs with low enrollment or other significant issues or problems are reviewed more frequently. Program reviews are documented with copies maintained in the office of the appropriate dean and department chair (Medical Transcription Program Review). Instructors also evaluate the relevancy of their programs to current industry and educational standards and trends by maintaining currency in their respective fields. See Comprehensive Standard 3.7.3 for a discussion of CFCC’s professional development activities. A further evaluation of CFCC’s program and learning outcomes is conducted through our Graduate Survey. In the most recent survey, over 80% of graduates felt that CFCC had adequately prepared them for employment or for transfer to a senior institution, and again over 80% expressed satisfaction with their program of study (Graduating Student Opinion Survey Results). In addition to internal evaluations of programs, many CFCC programs are also subject to external evaluations by national or state accrediting agencies. Following is a listing of those programs and accrediting agencies as specified in the CFCC Catalog and Student Handbook (Accrediting Agencies pg iii):

Associate Degree Nursing:
The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.

Criminal Justice Technology:
The North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission.

Dental Assisting:
The Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association.

Dental Hygiene:
The Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association.

Occupational Therapy Assistant:
The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE)
of the American Occupational Associate Therapy Association (AOTA)

The National Accreditation Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences

The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology

The North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges has created twelve performance standards against which individual and aggregate program and learning outcomes are measured. These measurements include performance on professional licensure examinations and performance of college transfer students among others. CFCC has been rated superior for meeting or exceeding eleven of these twelve standards. For a community college, one of the most important of these measurements is the employability of our graduates. For 2003-04, two state-measured standard are in this area – 97% of employers report satisfaction with the training of their CFCC graduate employees received, and 99% of CFCC’s graduates are either employed or furthering their education within six months of graduation (Performance Measures).


Source Location

Curriculum Committee Minutes,
December 8, 2003 (pg 17)

Board Minutes,
CFCC Board of Trustees
May 27, 2004 (pg 4)
See Bookmarks

Curriculum Standards


Business Courses,
NCCCS Common Course Library

Curriculum Program Application Procedures,
NCCCS Website
Sonography Application sonographyapplication.pdf
Institutional Effectiveness Model,
Institutional Effectiveness
Cape Fear Community College Website
Developing an IE Plan for an Academic Program devieplan_academicprograms.pdf
Academic Program Assessment Plans in SPOL
SPOL Access
(Internet access is necessary)

1. Login with Username: capefear and Password capefear.
2. From the Main Menu, select <Search Menu>,
3. Then select <Objective/Outcome Search by Planning Unit>.
This will take you to the Objective/Outcome Search Screen.
4. Using the drop down arrow, scroll the list and select the
academic program planning unit you wish to view.
You may select another Planning Year by using the arrow
in the drop down list in the left upper corner of the screen.
5. After selecting the planning unit and the Planning Year you
wish to view, click the <Search> button and the planning unit
name will appear. Click on the name of the planning Unit and
the unit objectives/outcomes for the chosen year will appear.
6. Click on the objective/outcome you wish to view and you will
be taken to the <Objective/Outcomes Data> screen. Scroll
down the page and click on each of the tabs to view the
associated information.
7. To get back to the search page, Scroll to the very bottom of
the page and select the <Back To Search> flashing arrow to
return to the objective/outcome search.
8. You may then select another objective/outcome for that
same planning unit or select another planning unit using the
drop down arrow.

Advisory Committee List advisorymembers.pdf
Advisory Committee Information advisorybrochure.pdf

Program Review process
for Vocational and Technical Programs


Program Review process
for College Transfer Programs


Program Review Schedule prog_rev_sched02-07.pdf
Medical Transcription Program Review medtransprogreviewfinal05.pdf
Graduating Student Opinion Survey Results,
Cape Fear Community College Website
Accrediting Agencies,
CFCC Catalog and Student Handbook (pg iii)
Performance Measures,
Cape Fear Community College Website



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