Guidelines for Writing about Academic Programs
Part I: Academic Catalog
What is the Academic Catalog?
The academic catalog provides information about Westchester Community College to prospective students and those already enrolled at the college. It presents all the programs and courses that the college offers. In addition, all the policies and procedures (admissions, academic integrity, student conduct, etc.) of how the college interacts with a student are included. Students follow the catalog year in which they first enroll.
Catalog Program Description
The program description tells what the program aims to do for its students. The overview should be about three – five sentences (125 – 150 words), outlining:
- The intellectual content of the program – the course material that will be covered.
- What students gain by enrolling in this program — the knowledge and skills they will develop.
- What it prepares students for in life and work – what type of careers and opportunities they will have as a result of this program.
Health & Human Performance A.S.
The Associate in Science (A.S.) degree program in Health & Human Performance is an innovative program designed for students who are interested in the fields of health, fitness and wellness. Coursework is focused in the essential areas of: Exercise Physiology, Kinesiology, Human Performance, Nutrition and Fitness, which provide both a strong foundation and great flexibility to students interested in transferring to a four-year college with health-, fitness-, and wellness-related degree programs including: Pre-Professional Programs, Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology, Sports Medicine, Athletic Training, Sports Team Coaching, Physical Education Instruction, Personal Training, Sports Studies, Kinesiology, and Movement Science (to name a few). The Health and Human Performance program also provides students the opportunity to pursue entry-level careers in the rapidly growing, and dynamic fields of health, fitness and wellness.
Program Learning Outcomes
Program learning outcomes describe learning outcomes and concepts – what you want students to learn.
- Describe the ideal student in your program at various phases in your program. What does this student care about and what is this student able to do? List and briefly describe the program experiences that contribute most to the development of the ideal student. Be concrete and focus on those strengths, skills, and values that you feel are the result of your program.
- Write learning outcomes as specific student performance and behaviors that demonstrate student learning and skill development of these outcomes. Before drafting outcomes, it is helpful to consider the following three questions:
- What are the specific student behaviors, skills or abilities that would tell you this outcome is being achieved?
- What evidence tells you when students have met these outcomes? How do you know when they’re “getting it?”
- Describe realistic and achievable outcomes in simple language that focuses on student behavior. Effectively worded objectives use action verbs that describe definite, observable actions (See Bloom’s Taxonomy below).
Upon successful completion of this program, a student will:
- Demonstrate performance in journalistic roles of news gathering, writing, and reporting across traditional and digital platforms.
- Apply theories and principles of communication to making ethical decisions in the practice of journalism.
- Demonstrate understanding of the various roles and responsibilities of news media in a democratic society.
- Demonstrate the ability to communicate in a way that recognizes the legal, ethical, personal and social responsibilities of communicators.
- Demonstrate professionally sound and ethical news judgment.
A course description is a brief synopsis of what students will be taught in a course. For the catalog, a course description includes a course prefix, course number, course title, lecture and lab contact hours (if applicable), semester credit hours, description of the content of the course, and any prerequisites or co-requisites. Rather than sentences, course content should be expressed in concise fragments or phrases.
Catalog course descriptions should not be used to advertise the course, but rather to inform the students of the content. The syllabus course description can be used to further elaborate on the course.
- Titles of courses should convey a clear sense of the course’s overall purview.
- Describe the timeframe, broader concepts, and more important ideas that will be examined in the course. State what the course will cover, not what the course might cover.
- The description is not the place to discuss class requirements or issues of course administration.
BIOL 103 – Human Biology (and Lab)
An analysis of the systems of the human body, the structure and functions of the circulatory, digestive, respiratory, excretory, skeletal-muscular, nervous, and reproductive systems. These systems are approached through an understanding of their functioning in the healthful condition followed by a study of the common disease conditions resulting from their dysfunction.
Prerequisites: Some background in biology is helpful. Biological Science 2 (Human Biology) is a one-semester lecture and laboratory course that may be used as a sequel to Biological Science, but can be taken independently, and deals with general topics related to the human organism.
Part II: College Website
The college website is the place to market your program. You can do this by creating a relationship with the readers and by being personally engaging.
- Instantly grab the students’ attention by answering the question, “What’s in it for me?” This triggers an emotional response on two levels: students feel like you’re speaking directly to them and that you’re interested in what matters most to them. Write as if you and the student are conversing.
- Speak directly to the students and to their point of view. Use “you,” not “student or applicant.”
- Use an active voice, conversational style (you), direct phrasing and strong adjectives.
- Highlight unique aspects of your program that could be an important part of a student’s decision-making process.
- Consider international students. Many of our figures of speech can confuse international students, so be careful that the text is clear for all audiences.
- This degree can help you begin a career in business.
- Not: This degree can help you get your foot in the door of a career in business.
Some ways to establish a relationship:
- Start with a question so the students can immediately determine if this program might be of interest to them. For example, “Do you have a passion for science?”
- Set the tone with a strong, catchy statement or fact. For example, “The medical field is one of the fastest growing professions in this area.”
- Use emotion to convey the importance of the degree (and the importance of people who hold the degree). For example, “The education of our children is one of the noblest professions you can enter.”
- Describe the ideal student in that program and relate it to them. (If they don’t fit the description, they’ll know right off that the degree may not be right for them.) For example, “As someone who embraces justice and order, a criminology degree can help you…”
- Explicitly state what they will gain from the degree and how it will help them in the future. For example, “You’ll learn about the fashion consumer which will prepare you to be a clothing buyer.”
Harness the principles of business security to break into the fields of information systems, information assurance, cyber-security, and digital forensics. The Cybersecurity programs cover computer information system basics as well as the latest practices for managing and identifying cyber-attacks on workstations, servers, and networks. Understand the many types of security breaches and learn how to secure computer systems to pursue a career in this rapidly-growing industry.
Message from Curricular Chair
The message from the curricular chair should begin with a welcome to students. Highlight the strengths of the program including faculty achievements and the career/transfer opportunities the program provides to its graduates. The chair should invite students to contact them with additional questions.
Part III: Website vs Catalog
The following chart shows the difference in wording between the catalog and website.
|Audience||Prospective students||Prospective students, current students, faculty, future employers, funding sources other educators and schools, accreditation bodies|
|Word Count||70-word limit||150-word limit|
|Style||Makes an emotional connection with a student to draw them in so they continue reading||Presents factual and specialized information about the program to help a student decide if the program is the right fit for them|
|Health & Human Performance A.S.||
Interested in the fields of health, fitness, and wellness? The Health and Human Performance program builds a strong foundation for students interested in transferring to a four-year college with related degree programs including: Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology, Sports Medicine, Athletic Training, Kinesiology, Movement Science, Physical Education Instruction, Sports Studies, and more.
The Associate in Science (AS) degree program in Health & Human Performance is an innovative program designed for students who are interested in the fields of health, fitness and wellness. Coursework is focused in the essential areas of: Exercise Physiology, Kinesiology, Human Performance, Nutrition and Fitness, which provide both a strong foundation and great flexibility to students interested in transferring to a four-year college with health-, fitness-, and wellness-related degree programs including: Pre-Professional Programs, Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology, Sports Medicine, Athletic Training, Sports Team Coaching, Physical Education Instruction, Personal Training, Sports Studies, Kinesiology, and Movement Science (to name a few). The Health and Human Performance program also provides students the opportunity to pursue entry-level careers in the rapidly growing, and dynamic fields of health, fitness and wellness.
Bloom’s Taxonomy is a classification of learning objectives. Six levels, which move from the lowest order processes to the highest, are often used to describe the cognitive behaviors of student learning.
|to know specific facts, terms, concepts, principles, or theories|
|2. Comprehension||to understand, interpret, compare and contrast, explain|
|3. Application||to apply knowledge to new situations, to solve problems|
|4. Analysis||to identify the organizational structure of something; to identify parts, relationships, and organizing principles.|
|5. Synthesis||to create something, to integrate ideas into a solution, to propose an action plan, to formulate a new classification scheme|
|to judge the quality of something based on its adequacy, value, logic, or use|
Verbs such as “define,” “argue,” or “create” are more helpful for assessment than vague verbs such as “know,” “understand,” or passive verbs such as “be exposed to.” The following are some examples of action words frequently used in objectives: