Total Student Management©, Its Implementation and Vision: A Report
by Richelle Mhee
During the 2012-2013 academic year, as part of the Purewater University Commitment to Excellence Centennial Campaign, we began implementation of Total Student Management© (TSM©), a systematic approach to the creation of positive outcomes throughout the university product chain, from planning phases through educational implementation and beyond.
Unlike other approaches to academic quality and performance standards, TSM© seeks to not simply achieve positive student outcomes, but to create a high quality student product. TSM© is the only student achievement and academic product quality system that uses best practices to create the best student currently available.
In order to implement TSM©, a Standards and Practices committee was developed consisting of top administrators, technical staff, and industry leaders. The committee met twice monthly to carefully select curricular packages (CPs) that were then assigned to the various university colleges for distribution. The curricular packages were designed to assure both consistency and measurability. Prior to implementation of TSM©, a common student complaint was that different instructors taught differently, and that different section numbers of the same course even included slightly different content! The old, non-evidence-based teaching methodology, which involved individual instructors "choosing" the content—and sometimes the structure—of any given course, led both to confusion and dissatisfaction. Worse, it created problems in tracking outcomes and performance as it became difficult to know exactly what standard to measure each section against.
The elimination of this arbitrary element was our first aim, and it was achieved quite effectively through the creation and replication of CPs. Within each CP is provided a list of texts for each section along with a bar code for instructors to scan when ordering texts (physical books have long been eliminated from the PU campus) and a series of scripts for each class session. When each paragraph of the script is delivered, the instructor simply touches the screen next to it on her instructor's tablet, instantly alerting the campus network to its completion. CCTV cameras have been installed in every classroom in order to assure correspondence between delivery of the CP and the instructor's indication of its delivery. CCTV feeds are monitored by the iCampus® corporation under a special contract with Purewater University, with reports on instructor performance of CP delivery uploaded to department chairs nightly.
Ample time (5 minutes per every hour of class time) is given for the instructor to answer questions, and every week the instructor is reviewed by the department chair on the quality of his or her instruction and response to student questions. This process eliminates all but the most necessary elements of chance in curricular delivery and frees instructors of the burden of course design, preparation, and planning.
For those few classes for which written work is still necessary, explicit and detailed instructions for writing each piece are provided, with topics pre-chosen for maximum educational efficiency. Special software is used to scan each written piece for deviation from expected expectations and objectives. This further frees each instructor from actually grading written work, realizing immense systemic efficiencies. Prior to implementation of TSM©, instructor commitments were essentially open-ended, and academic business had to be conducted in such a way that produced a two-tier pay structure, with full-time, tenure track faculty forced into the confines of the academic year, forced to actually teach classes, preventing them from pursuing fruitful contracts with industry. On the lower tier were adjuncts, whose commitment was measured by class taught; some adjuncts thus worked much harder than others, as they were fettered with the business of grading papers. Via TSM© and CP implementation, tenure-track instructors are now expected to pursue industry collaborations full time, and classroom instructors (we have eliminated the stigmatizing labels "adjunct" and "lecturer") are provided with an hourly wage which can be easily calculated as it corresponds directly to class time. This frees instructors in one more way, allowing them to take other part-time positions (such as service-industry or call-center work) without the uncertainty and inconsistency of traditionally open-ended academic appointments.
Industry collaborations between tenure-track faculty are in their initial stages but promise to create revenue-positive activity,as PU policy assures a university share of royalties from intellectual property and product creation.
The process of answering student emails has also been subject to increases in quality and efficiency. In TSM©, each email is to be answered within 24 hours of receipt, or instructors are docked the hourly pay they might otherwise receive for answering the message. Software installed on the campus email program measures editing time for each email, with a maximum time of five minutes for each, and bonuses given for each email responded to in three minutes or less. Each month, iCampus® staff assess instructor emails for content of quality, and iCampus® software scans messages for accuracy of keystroke.
Unlike other systems for academic excellence creation and assurance, TSM© is based on one important and vital realization. Where other systems view the educational product as their primary end and stop their efforts at only improving its efficiency and delivery, TSM© realizes that the educational product is the penultimate step in the creation of academic excellence. Rather, the student itself is, properly speaking, the final step in the educational product chain.
To further this, each student at PU is equipped as a freshman with an Educational Tracking System (ETS) bracelet. The ETS bracelet uploads each student's position and velocity vis GPS and records learning effort and attempt via analysis of variations in body temperature, heart-rate, and dermogalvanic reactions to a specially-designed, multipurpose probe. This data is then fed back into PU's campus network. Custom algorithms add these datapoints to instructor evaluation tracking, creating a cumulative instructor quality score. This has the ancillary benefit of being able to immediately dismiss underperfoming instructors and automatically contact their replacements, who can then be dispatched in real time from the awaiting instructor pool.
For students however ETS has another benefit: constant, customized, and instantaneous correction. Today's student is used to immediate feedback, surrounded as he is with social media and video games. ETS bracelets fit in well with youth culture and current trends in cyber-biological convergence.
Correction is achieved through the aforementioned multifunction probe which delivers small, but noticeable, electrical "reminders" of varying energies depending on the seriousness of the student's situation and guidance needs. This obviates the need for more unreliable means of such things as getting to class, currently dictated by old-fashioned standalone alarms or inconsistently-programmed cellular phones. Mild energy reminders can be delivered when students stray too far off predetermined routes to and from class, for example. This further enhances the revenue of campus franchisees, who have been relocated along these routes.
Incorrect answers, excess drowsiness, unprogrammatic or unsanctioned leisure activities, and other forms of lassitude or deviations from academic pursuits agreed to in the student-learning contract are accompanied by higher energy reminders proportionate to the deviation. Initial student reactions to ETS have been overwhelmingly positive. Post-9-11 Millennials report that the electronic reminders create welcome "structure" and a "sense of safety" and "reassurance." Some even noted the extra self-discipline provided by the ETS bracelets and appreciated the way their ubiquitous distribution among PU students made everyone "feel the same." To assure fidelity to actual service conditions, only students wearing ETS bracelets were allowed to take the online survey demonstrating their effectiveness and popularity.
By means of carefully promoting excellence in even the most unpredictable and intransigent aspects of academic pursuit, PU moves beyond other organizations by creating student-products imminently well-suited to the businesses into which they will be graduating and for which they are all too often unprepared. PU considers Total Student Management© the ultimate innovation in education, one that finally eliminates all the dead wood currently shoring up the musty structure of the Ivory Tower.